Duchess by Deception (Gilded #1) by Marie Force

Duchess by Deception (Gilded #1) by Marie Force

In New York Times bestselling author Marie Force’s dazzling historical romance debut, the clock is ticking for a wealthy Duke who must marry by his thirtieth birthday—or lose his title . . .

Derek Eagan, the dashing Duke of Westwood, is well aware of his looming deadline. But weary of tiresome debutantes, he seeks a respite at his country home in Essex—and encounters a man digging on his property. Except he’s not a man. He’s a very lovely woman. Who suddenly faints at his feet.
 
Catherine McCabe’s disdain for the aristocracy has already led her to flee an arranged marriage with a boorish Viscount. The last thing she wants is to be waylaid in a Duke’s home. Yet, she is compelled to stay by the handsome, thoughtful man who introduces himself as the Duke’s estate manager.
 
Derek realises two things immediately: he is captivated by her delicate beauty, and to figure out what she was up to, Catherine must not know he is the Duke. But as they fall passionately in love, Derek’s lie spins out of control. Will their bond survive his deception, not to mention the scorned Viscount’s pursuit? Most important, can Catherine fall in love all over again—this time with the Duke?

Duchess by Deception (Gilded #1) by Marie Force

Marie Force has been a prominent and well-loved figure in the contemporary romance and romantic suspense scenes for years, and this is her move into the historical romance genre.

Did it work for me? Uh… no, not really. Ignoring the sexist opening chapter for a moment, my problem with Duchess by Deception is that it reads like a throwback to the books of the 1980s, and it doesn’t seem like Force has kept up with the changes in the genre since then.

Initially I was excited about the book’s description. Mystery unconscious woman doing suspicious things on the duke’s property? Uncommon Edwardian era setting? Sounded interesting. However, apart from some research info-dumps about technological developments, the feel of this one was no different to any century-earlier, Regency-set book (were leading strings not more an 18th century than 20th century thing? Why are they still being used in 1902?).

Also, the tired and silly trope of the hero who has to marry by a certain date or he’ll lose his title needs to be permanently retired. It’s simply not how the aristocracy works.

There is a serious case of insta-love (lust?) here. Even when the heroine is filthy, stinks, and is dressed like a boy (and unconscious!), the hero is so attracted to her he won’t let anybody else care for her.

And then when she wakes up we get lines like this:

 

She gave him an arch look, which, along with her fever-reddened cheeks, only added to her overwhelming appeal.

 

As for the sexism? From the very first page, all the girls and women in London are referred to by terms such as simpering. (The heroine, of course, is “not like other women”.)

 

‘Is there one among them who cares about anything other than her hair or her gown or her slippers?’

 

Naturally, every woman in the book who isn’t the heroine, is “annoying”, and they fawn all over the hero.

While Duchess by Deception isn’t a horrible read, it is also a throwback to things most HR writers and readers moved on from years ago. Force will shoot to prominence in the genre simply because she comes in with an already established name as an author, but I’ve read lesser-known historical romance books by lesser-known authors that are surely as worthy of the attention.

 

Review copy provided by NetGalley.

Beyond my limit!

A Mad, Wicked Folly by Sharon Biggs Waller

We all know that many a book cover in historical fiction has questionable historical accuracy, but the cover designer has gone too far this time!

A Mad, Wicked Folly is supposed to be set in 1909 – the Edwardian era. This canary-coloured prom dress, the long, flowing hair… I’ve heard this is a wonderful book, so the author definitely deserved better.

Is it because it’s young adult fiction? Do they assume younger readers are too stupid to pick up a book unless it looks like every other prom princess cover on the market?

Here is a fashion plate from the *real* year 1909 for comparison:

August 1909 Fashion Edwardian era.

Readers are the world’s smartest, most knowledgeable people! Stop treating us like idiots!

Fashion Plates: 150 Years of Style

Fashion Plates 150 Years of Style by April Calahan (Editor), Karen Trivette Cannell (Editor), Anna Sui (Foreword).

Fashion Plates: 150 Years of Style by April Calahan (Editor), Karen Trivette Cannell (Editor), Anna Sui (Foreword).

I saw this book in Barcelona just over a month ago, and decided there was no way I was lugging something this big and heavy all the way home! I was glad to find it on The Book Depository, both in paperback and hardcover. Of course, if you buy from there you get the book with free shipping (I shudder to think how much it would be to Australia otherwise!).

Fashion Plates 150 Years of Style by April Calahan (Editor), Karen Trivette Cannell (Editor), Anna Sui (Foreword)..

This is one of those books that will appeal to history nerds, historical fiction and romance readers, etc.

The Week: 2nd – 8th January

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Cooking hundreds of varenyky (Ukrainian dumplings) – just one of our trays – for Ukrainian Christmas.

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Summer Flowers on New Year’s Day.

So, it was another week, another Christmas for us. Now I have a few days to sort out birthdays for both my parents (and me!), have Ukrainian New Year, and then we’re off to Italy and London. It will be Easter straight after that – and we have two of those, too!

It has been very hot here, and it is going to get hotter in the next few days. I need to exercise because I have long-term knee problems related to my years as a ballet dancer (I have a talent for dislocating my right knee every few months!), but who can exercise when the temperatures are up around 40°C (104°F)?!

Speaking of ballet, I found an old photo of me backstage during a season of Giselle (Andrew, if you ever see this, I hope you don’t mind me posting your picture!). It was 1999, and – obviously – my night off from performances.

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First sunset of 2017

According to the lovely pussy-grabber, only stupid people oppose Russia. I’m guessing that means “stupid people” like my family and other friends in Ukraine, who are in the process of being invaded and slaughtered.

I was hacked by Russian trolls again on Saturday evening.

America: I know Russia rigged your election, but many millions of you still voted for this. It is unforgivable, and deeply upsetting for me on a personal level.

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Pro-Trump and Putin propaganda appearing in Montenegro. Serbia and Montenegro are almost totally anti-Ukrainian and pro-Putin. This is Hitler and Stalin take #2, and nobody seems to care.

Some of my favourite authors? I can no longer read their books. Anybody who supports Trump… It’s shocking we live in a world with people who think like that. This isn’t a difference of political opinion; it’s literally supporting mass murder.

I don’t even want to know what is going to happen to the world in the next four years.

Revisiting Old Books

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My review of The Workhouse Children by Lindsey Hutchinson

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Coming Up for Madeline Hunter

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Cover Love

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A Book I’d Like to Have

Spitalfields Nippers by (author) Horace Warner

It certainly paints a different image of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries than historical romances do! This book of photographs of children in late Victorian London looks fascinating.

When photography became more popular and photos easier to create, some journalists began documenting the lives of the poor. They shocked society, who spent a lot of time pretending this sort of thing didn’t exist just down the road from them!

 

Spitalfields Nippers by (author) Horace Warner