The Duchess War

The Rift Walker (Vampire Empire, #2)

The Duchess War by Courtney Milan
Pub­lisher: Courtney Milan
Series: Brothers Sinister
Pub­li­ca­tion date: December 8th 2012

Sometimes love is an accident.

This time, it’s a strategy.

Miss Minerva Lane is a quiet, bespectacled wallflower, and she wants to keep it that way. After all, the last time she was the center of attention, it ended badly--so badly that she changed her name to escape her scandalous past. Wallflowers may not be the prettiest of blooms, but at least they don't get trampled. So when a handsome duke comes to town, the last thing she wants is his attention.

 But that is precisely what she gets.

Because Robert Blaisdell, the Duke of Clermont, is not fooled. When Minnie figures out what he's up to, he realizes there is more to than her spectacles and her quiet ways. And he's determined to lay her every secret bare before she can discover his. But this time, one shy miss may prove to be more than his match...

What an original, soothing read! The Duchess War took my completely by surprise, and I'm shocked I still recall most of what happened in it, nearly two months after I read it. Given my crappy memory, that's a sure sign I enjoyed this book.

No doubt, the greatest appeal of The Duchess War lies in the characters. I had trouble fully relating to Minnie, but there's no denying how awe-inspiring she is. After being betrayed by the one man her entire world revolved around at a young age, Minnie reconstructed her life by the help of her great-aunts and through sheer determination. Her willpower is absolutely remarkable, and the many facets of her enigmatic personality are revealed little by little as the story progresses. While I can't say I love her, I certainly came to admire her for her resilience.

Robert was simply adorable. I love how Minnie outsmarted him at every turn but he was so obviously better with emotions and completely devoted to her. There was a lot more to this book than just the romance however, and I loved reading about the workers' movement in England at the time.

The ending was practical and prefect, something that's tough to come across in historicals featuring dukes and duchesses and happily ever afters. Though a bit on the serious side, I highly recommend The Duchess War to anyone looking for a refreshingly different HR.

Favorite passage:

“You see, there’s this woman. [...] Normally, one might say that there was a beautiful woman—but I don’t think she qualifies as a classical beauty. Still, I find that when she’s around, I’d rather look at her than anyone else. [...] There’s something about her that draws my eye. Something that defies words. Maybe it’s her hair, but I tried to tell her that, and she told me I was being ridiculous. I suppose I was. Maybe it’s her lips. Maybe it’s her eyes, although she so rarely looks at me. [...] She’s clever. Every time I see her I discover that I’ve underestimated her prowess. She ties me in knots.
[...] So beat me to flinders. Win. Overmatch me, Minnie. And when we’re alone…”
His fingers touched her chin lightly. “When we’re alone,” he whispered, “look up.”

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