Sunday, June 10, 2012

Review: The Art of Duke Hunting

The Art of Duke Hunting
Sophia Nash
Historical Romance
Royal Entourage/Book 2
Avon/March 27, 2012

Last night was a blur. This morning is a shock. Tonight will be a secret...

The Duke of Norwich has two rules: never marry and never go to sea. So on the morning after the most extravagant royal bachelor party of the century, he is stunned to find himself aboard a storm-tossed ship and locked in the arms of a proper lady.

The Countess of Derby has two rules as well: never give away your heart and never let anyone get in the way of your life's deepest passions. But Esme cannot resist Roman when all seems lost at sea. Yet when their ship returns to London, everything will be forgotten... as long as they can keep their secret from the Prince Regent. For if the future king commands them to marry, all their fondest dreams will be ruined. But where love is concerned, some rules are made to be broken...

A widowed heroine and a cursed hero are sure to add some spice to this historical romance.  A ship in a storm and a hero in need of rescuing all lead to a historical hook-up on the high seas.  This second book in the Royal Entourage series started out quickly then stalled a bit, only to pick up steam again and leave me wanting the next book in the series.

After a night he barely remembers, Roman Montagu, the Duke of Norwich, finds himself in one of the last places he ever wanted to be.  Living with a duck related curse and a fear of all things watery, Roman wants to be far away from the sea.  When he does finally sight land it's in the company of the Countess of Derby who plays havoc with his senses.  At times I found Roman both interesting and sad.  Both traits coming from his history in dealing with his family curse.  He is a believer of the curse that all the Dukes of Norwich will die young and a duck will be involved.  Yes, the history of the curse is there and does make you wonder but the sadness I felt towards Roman was that he let this curse rule his life and his life wasn't all that happy.

Esme March is in for a surprise and a challenge.  When she is confronted with the crazy, drunken man on the sea tossed ship, she is determined to save him.  After saving him she finds herself reluctant to part from him even though he doesn't fit into the plans she has made for her future.  Esme has some life experience but dreams of having even more.  She is widowed and cousins to some of the more powerful of the ton but doesn't hold herself above those of lesser ranks.  In that respect, she is likable but didn't leave a lasting impression on me. 

Roman and Esme's romance is far from conventional.  They are both intelligent, witty people and it shows in their dialogue.  They have this strong attraction that both try to downplay since neither wishes to marry.  Roman refuses marriage due to his duck curse and Esme has dreams that will take her far from London.   In spite of what they each want, circumstances throw them together as well as family and friends.  I did enjoy the teasing both Roman and Esme employed with each other.  It was funny and added a lightness to the story.  It also implied a level of comfort they felt shortly after meeting.  The resolution to Roman and Esme's problems seemed obvious to me once Roman got over his duck curse fear but it seemed to take the couple a while longer to come to the conclusion.  Why, I'm not sure.  

The series wouldn't be complete without Prinny and his entourage sticking their noses in Roman and Esme's lives.  Closes to the couple are the Dukes of Candover and Abshire, who while good friends with both Roman and Esme, can't stand each other.  There is certainly a story there but it looks like we'll have to wait for that to play out at a later date.  Along with the two dukes is Verity Fitzroy, good friend and cousin of Esme's as well as sister of Candover.  Verity has some secrets that I wanted her so badly to spill but my guess is that we'll have to wait for her book for those dark secrets.  She is a good friend and confident to Esme, giving advice and a shoulder to cry on when needed.  One thing about this series is that the secondary characters are developed just enough to make them interesting and leave the reader wanting more.

A good story with a few stops and stalls.  I look forward to reading about the rest of Prinny's entourage and their outrageous love affairs. 

Rating:  B

Royal Entourage Series ~

Between the Duke and the Deep Blue Sea
The Art of Duke Hunting


  1. I'm glad you enjoyed the book! And I did not realize that Esme was Candover's cousin :) I'm not in a hurry to read this book, but I come across it, I won't say no.

    A duck curse, it sounds cute :P

  2. Nath ~ You've got plenty of time to read it before the next one comes out next year. :)

  3. I keep seeing Sophia Nash's books around, but have yet to try her work! She's another one of those authors I have on my list. *g*

  4. Hils ~ You should give her a try. I've only read two from her but enjoyed them both.