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A shy wallflower meets her dream man—or does she?—in the next book in New York Times bestselling author Eloisa James' Wildes of Lindow series.

Miss Viola Astley is so painfully shy that she’s horrified by the mere idea of dancing with a stranger; her upcoming London debut feels like a nightmare.

So she’s overjoyed to meet handsome, quiet vicar with no interest in polite society — but just when she catches his attention, her reputation is compromised by a duke.

Devin Lucas Augustus Elstan, Duke of Wynter, will stop at nothing to marry Viola, including marrying a woman whom he believes to be in love with another man.

A vicar, no less.

Devin knows he’s no saint, but he’s used to conquest, and he’s determined to win Viola’s heart.

Viola has already said Yes to his proposal, but now he wants her unruly heart…and he won’t accept No for an answer.

400 pages, ebook

First published May 19, 2020

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About the author

Eloisa James

102 books8,629 followers
New York Times bestselling author Eloisa James writes historical romances for HarperCollins Publishers. Her novels have been published to great acclaim. A reviewer from USA Today wrote of Eloisa's very first book that she "found herself devouring the book like a dieter with a Hershey bar"; later People Magazine raved that "romance writing does not get much better than this." Her novels have repeatedly received starred reviews from Publishers' Weekly and Library Journal and regularly appear on the best-seller lists.

After graduating from Harvard University, Eloisa got an M.Phil. from Oxford University, a Ph.D. from Yale and eventually became a Shakespeare professor, publishing an academic book with Oxford University Press. Currently she is an associate professor and head of the Creative Writing program at Fordham University in New York City. Her "double life" is a source of fascination to the media and her readers. In her professorial guise, she's written a New York Times op-ed defending romance, as well as articles published everywhere from women's magazines such as More to writers' journals such as the Romance Writers' Report.

Eloisa...on her double life:

When I'm not writing novels, I'm a Shakespeare professor. It's rather like having two lives. The other day I bought a delicious pink suit to tape a television segment on romance; I'll never wear that suit to teach in, nor even to give a paper at the Shakespeare Association of America conference. It's like being Superman, with power suits for both lives. Yet the literature professor in me certainly plays into my romances. The Taming of the Duke (April 2006) has obvious Shakespearean resonances, as do many of my novels. I often weave early modern poetry into my work; the same novel might contain bits of Catullus, Shakespeare and anonymous bawdy ballads from the 16th century.

When I rip off my power suit, whether it's academic or romantic, underneath is the rather tired, chocolate-stained sweatshirt of a mom. Just as I use Shakespeare in my romances, I almost always employ my experiences as a mother. When I wrote about a miscarriage in Midnight Pleasures, I used my own fears of premature birth; when the little girl in Fool For Love threw up and threw up, I described my own daughter, who had that unsavory habit for well over her first year of life.

So I'm a writer, a professor, a mother - and a wife. My husband Alessandro is Italian, born in Florence. We spend the lazy summer months with his mother and sister in Italy. It always strikes me as a huge irony that as a romance writer I find myself married to a knight, a cavaliere, as you say in Italian.

One more thing...I'm a friend. I have girlfriends who are writers and girlfriends who are Shakespeare professors. And I have girlfriends who are romance readers. In fact, we have something of a community going on my website. Please stop by and join the conversation on my readers' pages.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 831 reviews
Profile Image for chan ☆.
1,041 reviews47.6k followers
June 29, 2020
the plot of this was... stupid? nonexistent? but i wasn't mad

i liked the characters perfectly fine. i appreciated the honesty that the characters had with each other re: sex. this wasn't ground breaking but i love the wildes.
Profile Image for Jessica .
2,048 reviews13k followers
May 5, 2020
While Eloisa James is one of my favorite historical romance authors and I loved Say No to the Duke, sadly this one was a HUGE miss for me. I had to DNF this at 70%.

In the beginning, Viola is so anxious in social situations that she always pukes and embarrasses herself. She literally pukes ON someone in the beginning of the book. For some reason, this social anxiety is just magically cured and there's not real progression to her being more comfortable in society. Then, for the romance, it was super insta-lovey and there really wasn't a lot of courting or conflict. They talked, he flirted, that's it. There were no stakes or any real action in this book.

When it came to the pacing, this book was weirdly slow and fast. NOTHING HAPPENS. The characters just sit around and talk. And talk some more. And that's it. They go to a ball. They have tea. And I was so bored. There was nothing keeping the couple apart, nothing they had to worry about...there was just not really a lot to this book. I had to force myself to read and wasn't enjoying the story, so I decided it was time for me to just put it down.

I need a lot more to the plot and the relationship dynamics in historical romances to enjoy them, so I just couldn't get into this one.
Profile Image for Madison Warner Fairbanks.
2,173 reviews284 followers
June 25, 2020
Say Yes to the Duke by Eloisa James

5th book in The Wildes of Lindow Castle series. Historical romance. Can be read as a stand-alone.

Lighthearted and often amusing. I did a lot of smiling while reading this book. The heroine went from timid to confident while their relationship went from confrontational to passionate. I fell in love with both the heroine for her heart and the hero for his protectiveness and patience. Plus the two together get a little randy in their courtship which is unexpected from their characters as first portrayed.

I also love this author’s intellectual level of writing. I always have to look up several words in the dictionary. Sure, you can discern the meaning usually by the sentence but her writing is filled with amazingly Obsequious language. Don’t be put off by this. As I said, it’s understood by the sentence structure.

This struck me as the perfect extract: “His uncle guffawed.” Not a word used often but it creates a vivid image.

An auto buy author for me even though historical romance is not typically a favorite genre.
Profile Image for Melanie A..
1,044 reviews385 followers
June 18, 2020
"You're my life."
Another FABULOUS book in this series! And if you can get the audio, I highly recommend you go that route:

Audio: 5 STARS!!

Oh you guys! Eloisa James is the absolute queen of long, drawn-out, intimacy-building dialogue between her main characters. Every conversation is FULL to bursting with romance, dry humor and tenderness. And Viola and Devin got the full treatment. I loved every word of their story.

This series is 100% character driven, so don't expect any action sequences, lol.

I can't wait for Joan's book, which I hope is next. 😍
July 1, 2020
3 - 3.5 Not Much Action but Some Humor Stars

This is another book I wanted to like more than I actually did. Sigh.

I tend to enjoy Eloisa James' books, but this one lacked action in the plot - not action in a steam level way, but action in general. Literally, there was very little going on aside from a "wedded by scandal" that wasn't overly scandalous and a play put on at a church which was apparently a sacrilegious thing to do at the time.

Miss Viola Astley is a member of the Wilde family by association -- her mother is the 3rd duchess, but Viola was already born when they married as her father passed away when she was very young. Thus, she was raised with the rest of the Wildes without possessing any of their genetics, and she feels it shows as she is the opposite of her step siblings and the rest of the family. The sister she is closest to is Joan who is only a little older than Viola, but while Joan is actually not a Wilde herself (her mother, the 2nd duchess, had an affair that resulted in Joan), she is more like them in personality and since the duke claimed her as his own, while her bastard status is known to all, no one dares speak of it or cut her as a result. While Joan is adventurous and vivacious, Viola much prefers to be a wallflower. Her past encounters with gentlemen have led to actual disaster - she threw up each time she was placed in a situation where she had to try to converse with a man she didn't know. Thus, hers and Joan's comings out were delayed a year to help Viola build confidence and find a way to stifle her gag reflex. Viola is certain it hasn't worked --- she can only hope she marries a man who is not in the public eye, or better yet - she never marries at all. But when a new minister comes to their town to take over the pulpit after the former minister passed away, Viola finds herself drawn to his easy-going nature, his good looks, and (best of all!) the fact that he doesn't make her want to puke! But he is affianced to a truly terrible woman, so he is technically off limits. And when she stumbles across the Duke of Wynter and he decides she is the right duchess for him, will she be able to resist his very determined efforts to woo her?

What I liked:
--- The characters were likeable, and they fit well together
--- There were a few funny moments scattered in
--- Closet scene (HOT HOT HOT - that is all I will say!)

What I didn't like as much:
--- There was soooo much exposition and description of EVERYTHING - if you like that in your HRs and appreciate accuracy with respect to the time period, etc, you will probably like that about this book
--- I needed something to happen. Anything. Seriously. Someone kidnap a baby or something to make me want to read on! (even the love triangle aspect lasted only a hot minute)
--- Much ado about the "incident" that keeps being brought up - not that uncommon for the time and not that bad in terms of the reaction

Overall, I liked the characters and I am interested to see what happens with Joan (mostly because it seems likely that she will get herself in a bind that will create some mystery/suspense/something), but there was just too much description and not nearly enough action.

Plot --- 3/5
Main Characters --- 4/5
Supporting Cast --- 4/5
Steam Level* --- 3.75/5
Violence --- none I can recall
Language --- not egregious
POV --- 3rd

*Note that steam level is not a rating so much as a how hot was it: 0/5 - clean; 1/5 - mild; 2/5 - sensual but nothing descriptive; 3/5 - now we're getting somewhere; 4/5 - yes please! (erotica territory); 5/5 - they did EVERYTHING in this one, y'all

I received an advance copy from NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.
Profile Image for WhiskeyintheJar.
1,272 reviews516 followers
August 21, 2020
3.3 stars

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

In the fifth Wildes of Lindow Castle series, Viola, who is the duke's stepdaughter is making her debut into society. She's the extremely shy one, who pukes when she gets nervous, and just rather become a wallflower. Viola's nervousness comes from feeling like she isn't a true Wilde, because of her 'step' status. I'm new to the series and found I had no problem jumping in here, in fact, I wish there had been more scenes with Viola and the Wilde family. She spends a lot of time with her sister, Joan who is also debuting but I wish we could have seen her with her mother and especially stepfather to get some heartfelt scenes where he explains that he feels she is his daughter, no 'step' to it.

He had found a treasure in the Lindow library, and he merely had to win it away from a vicar. How hard could that be?

When Viola meets the new vicar, she can't believe how handsome he is and how she feels comfortable around him, so she decides that he is who she should marry, even though the vicar is already engaged. This issue was handled a bit unwieldy where the vicar's fiancee is uptight and has an offputting personality, so Viola feels vindicated in “saving” the vicar from the fiancee and the story kind of stays away from judging Viola for going after him. Our hero the Duke of Wynter, Devin, comes into the picture when Viola overhears him saying he wants her sister for a wife because Viola isn't a true Wilde. Devin doesn't make the best first impression, to Viola or readers, but from the first conversation he has with Viola, his character comes alive.

Then he thought about the way her eyes sparkled when she scolded him. It was an outlandish thing to find attractive.

I really enjoyed the first half, these two had good byplay and the way Devin kept trying to grasp Viola as she flittered away kept me locked in. These two had some sweet moments and I do think their journey to love, especially Viola, Devin falls first, came across in the pages but the second half slowed way down for me. There were long scenes of them just focused on the wanting to kiss and just when I was starting to really delight in them, sex scenes took over and I lost some of their good conversational play.

“No one would have arranged a marriage between us, which I think is to our benefit. And I think you would be a marvelous duchess.” Her eyes were shocked, so Devin added firmly, “I am going to woo you.”

I also thought the second half spent too much time focused on the vicar's romantic troubles; it really felt like the author ran out of steam for the main couple so moved onto the vicar. Even though Viola and Devin had pleasing chemistry, I still felt like Devin wasn't developed enough. He had an abusive father, lost his mother young, and then had an uncle and two cousins for his only family. It is also brought up that he likes, is good at math but so little was done with this, I'm not sure why it was even included. These were plot points to his character but he still only felt sketched out, like I said, he does come alive more in Viola's presence but when we lose them in the second half, he becomes even less memorable.

He was in love with his wife, desperately, wildly in love with his wife, and she was telling him that he was the reason for the greatest anguish she’d ever experienced.

The beginning half was sweet but when I was really starting to sink into the story and enjoy the couple together, the second half slowed down, had more sex scenes than the conversational byplay I was delighting in, and focused more on a side character's romance issues. I think some emotional moments were missed on not having scenes with Viola and her stepfather and even more with her step-siblings. I do think Viola will reach the heart of some who never feel they quite belong or feel dull in the presence of others who shine so effortlessly; it was lovely to see Viola, who feels that way, become the shining star in Devin's universe.
Profile Image for Susan - on semi hiatus.
410 reviews111 followers
February 23, 2021
I’m not sure how to rate this since I don’t read Romance and don’t have anything to compare it too.

I was in the mood for something lighter after reading multiples of dark and twisty. I got what I wanted (I think?) as this was fluffy with no angst encountered on my part.

The premise sounded interesting and I really enjoy historical fiction. However, Say Yes to the Duke was predominately romance and amiss in historical facts even though it takes place in 1870’s Britain.

If anything, I reaffirmed that Romance isn’t my thing despite the regal setting.
Profile Image for Lauren.
1,091 reviews74 followers
August 29, 2021
Maybe I'm getting in reading slump or something bc I was sooo bored. I almost dnf but the last 30% of the book was good. Why couldn't the author use some of that 30% in the beginning of the book?

For this book I think my expectations were high bc a friend listed it as their favourite. For some reason, I can't find a book by this author that I like.

All and all, the book was not bad, but it was unoriginal.
Profile Image for Ginger.
738 reviews340 followers
July 10, 2020
Got to go with 2.5 to 3 stars with this one!

Say Yes to the Duke is the 5th book in The Wildes of Lindow Castle series.
I’ve read all the books so far. It’s with no exception that I would read this one as well.

The book was okay.

The plot felt non existent and pretty boring after Devin and Viola decided to get married in about the halfway point of the book.

The writing was still good, the characters weren’t earth shattering and the plot wasn’t terrible.
Honestly, this was just a safe book in the series.

By the end of this, I cared more for all the drama that was happening between Mr. Marlowe, Caitlin and Miss Pettigrew. I didn’t even care when the main characters getting hot and heavy in the closet!
I’m not sure if that’s what Eloisa James was going for on the reading experience! 🤣😂
Profile Image for Christie«SHBBblogger».
954 reviews1,231 followers
April 3, 2020

Title: Say Yes to the Duke
Series: The Wildes of Lindlow Castle #5
Author: Eloisa James
Release date: May 19, 2020
Cliffhanger: no
Genre: historical romance

Her show of courage. Her cure. It was love. Love had changed everything.

This is only my second foray into The Wildes of Lindlow Castle series, because unfortunately the first book failed to hook me. It wasn't bad, but it didn't wow me either. Then I spotted this book, and the synopsis sounded so perfect for me that I decided to give the Wildes another whirl. I'm so, so happy I did because this romance was everything I needed right now! In fact, I'm now eager to go back and catch up on some of the previous titles.

Viola is a shy wallflower who was raised in a prestigious family. She's surrounded by bold and talented people, people whom are respected by society. However, as a mere stepdaughter to the Duke of Lindlow, she feels inferior to his full-blooded, aristocratic children. She senses the silent judgment of others and knows that they ultimately find her lacking in every way possible. After all, she's short, forgettable in looks, and so unsettled at social gatherings that she's developed a tendency to get sick from nerves. What she doesn't see about herself is that she may have a tender heart that needs to be handled with more care, but she has a stubborn streak a mile wide. When put to the test, she can hold her own with even the most austere snobs. Even Devin Elstan, Duke of Wynter, the most sought after catch of the season.

These two had the best first meeting ever. Devin was giving me all of the best Mr. Darcy proud and snobby vibes. Viola was in the wrong place at the right time, and overheard him saying unforgivably rude things about her. The way she bravely confronted him and turned the tables on him proved that this wallflower had some fire smoldering in her that made fantastic sparks. Devin is utterly, reluctantly, beguiled. Suddenly, his unemotional search for a wife has taken a turn, and he's relishing the hunt with Viola in his sights. The only problem? Her affections have already been claimed by someone much more classically handsome and generous of spirit than he. A Duke in competition with a vicar??

He had found a treasure in the Lindow library, and he merely had to win it away from a vicar. How hard could that be? Even given the fact that his treasure had made it clear that she had no interest in his courtship, his title, or his person.

Oh, how the mighty was humbled...I couldn't get enough of his attempts to win Viola's attention. And eventually her heart. The man is nothing if not confident and he knows how to turn on the charm when it suits him. When Devin pursues her he's like a force of nature. Viola starts to wonder if her feelings for the good Vicar are superficial and childish in nature. She had this naive side to her when it came to matters of the heart. Hilariously clueless about his attempts to impress her when everyone around them watched with knowing grins. Otis and Joan in particular took great joy in seeing their battle of wills when they faced off against each other. One of the highlights of the story for me was the entire group of secondary characters. The whole family had such a tight bond. It was kind of reminiscent to Julia Quinn's Bridgertons' playfulness. There was also another story arc in the second half with the ever-suffering vicar and his repulsive fiancé. As much as you grow to love the Wildes, Miss Pettigrew is someone you'll love to hate.

Viola flourishes before your eyes. She comes out of her shell and grows in confidence on each page under Devin's tender affections. The cool, cutting Duke who doesn't know how to get close to people learns what it is to love. But there's a shared event between them just waiting to be unearthed. He lives in fear of a past mistake ripping everything away at a moment's notice.

At a time when there isn't much to smile about, these characters swept me away for a few hours and made me giddy with happiness. I can't recommend this book enough, and I see a Wilde family binge read coming on very soon. Historical romance readers rejoice: you found your next five star read right here.


Profile Image for Katie.
2,647 reviews143 followers
January 29, 2021
Oh! I really really liked this. I think I'll like it even more on re-read since I was pretty nervous about the looming conflict.

That said, I was super-interested in this as a story about a "painfully shy" heroine and it wasn't really that. She got over her shyness at the beginning of the book. How nice for her. :P

But it was just a nice story about two people who just CLICKED and LIKED each other. There's also a nice secondary romance!

Re-Read January 2021

Re-read this one, too! I still like it a lot!

And the secondary romance IS great, which I feel like generally hasn't been true for me and James's secondary romances.
September 2, 2020
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️💫 4.5 stars

This book was fabulous! I usually don’t like historical that was written recently, except for Lisa Kleypas and some other authors, but this book was so good.

I loved that Viola wasn’t a spinster. I am so sick and tired of the spinster trope. I seriously can’t take it. It is so tired and, honestly, a little historically inaccurate.

Viola was shy and mentally scarred from a humiliating episode at her first ball. She was compassionate and loved animals. Viola definitely reminded me of a Kleypas heroine, a very high compliment.

Devin also bore mental scars, but from his father. His father was violent and loved to duel. His mother and father also had a terrible marriage.

I didn’t like the focus at the beginning with the vicar. I also don’t like the full body cover, this cover is much better. Additionally, I felt like the title was stupid and ordinary, very cliche.

In conclusion, wonderful book! I would highly recommend if you recently written historical romance.
Profile Image for Heidi.
1,202 reviews130 followers
September 7, 2020
It’s adorably romantic, but not much really happens. However, a few swoon-worthy scenes make up for little conflict other than an insecure shy girl trying to let a nerdy Duke know she’s not right for him. When, of course she is!
Profile Image for JenReadsRomance.
291 reviews1,463 followers
May 17, 2020
Perhaps this is unkind, but this book seemed to be chasing after the Tessa Dare brand of "wacky pets as character development" + the Julia Quinn brand of "clever dialogue will be enough to make people notice there is absolutely zero plot." There was more genuine conflict in the vicar's road to true love than there was for Viola & her Duke.

However, I did bump it up to 3 stars for the fact that Violet and Devin have some truly hot sex in their happy-conflict-free-marriage.
Profile Image for Lacey (laceybooklovers).
2,007 reviews9,931 followers
September 18, 2021
3.5-4 stars

I’ve been really enjoying Eloisa James’ Wildes of Lindow Castle series and have been SO excited for Viola’s story because of how her story was set up at the end of Say No to the Duke. She’s a shy wallflower of a heroine who ends up being pursued by a Duke who’s determined to have her – how could I not love this?! Pursuing heroes are my favorite. This latest story from the Wilde siblings turned out to be so soft and sweet. I enjoyed Viola and Devin’s romance!

Viola is painfully shy and horribly antisocial, except when it comes to her beloved family and pets. She’s always been afraid of what society thinks of her, and being the Duke’s stepdaughter only makes her feel more like she doesn’t belong. But after listening in on the Duke of Wynter’s cold assessment of her, she realizes she doesn’t care what he thinks and isn’t afraid to speak her mind to him. With the help of her sister, she grows more confident in who she is and starts to break out of her wallflower shell.

Devin, Duke of Wynter, is in need of a wife. He’s settled on a Wilde sister who is NOT Viola, but is utterly shocked when the supposedly shy wallflower calls him out and is determined not to let him anywhere near her sister. He knows he is completely wrong about his assumptions of her and becomes bewitched and besotted with her kindness, her sharp mind, and her inner strength. She might be tiny in comparison to him, but her will is mighty.

Can I just repeat how soft and sweet this book is? I loved how the romance developed between Viola and Devin. Here we have one of the most powerful titled men in England who wants to marry Viola and win her heart… and all she wants from him is friendship. Oh, his biggest competition is a taken vicar. LOL. Viola believes herself to be in love with an engaged man, but soon enough starts to fall for Devin. She’s hesitant and afraid though that he’ll lose interest in her eventually and break her heart, but what she doesn’t realize is that Devin is SO far gone for this woman. This man is SWOONY. He is determined enough to make Viola his Duchess and give her the world that he accepts friendship from her, only so that he can grow closer to her and find other ways to woo her. He might be cold and stoic to everyone else, but he’s tender and sweet when it comes to Viola. You can see how much he grows to treasure her.

My only main complaint with this book was with the scenes near the ending. It felt very… strange and out of place. One is a scene in the vicarage that felt awkward and unnecessary, which is why my rating isn’t higher even though I loved the romance. When it came to the vicarage and the religious play everyone is setting up, I felt pretty bored and just wanted to go back to the romance. And the sex was surprisingly fade to black? Not sure why Eloisa James would choose to do that.

Besides that awkwardness, I truly did enjoy this story. I loved being back with the Wildes, who are as close and fun a family as ever. Viola and Devin had me saying, “Aww” more than once, so if you want yourself a really cute historical romance, definitely give this one a try!
Profile Image for Tracy Emro.
1,755 reviews44 followers
May 13, 2020
Viola Astley, The Duke of Lindow’s stepdaughter has been raised as a Wilde, but never felt that she fit in. Unlike her bold and outgoing siblings, Viola is shy and timid , so shy and timid, that she makes herself ill and has on numerous occasions cast up her accounts, like the time when she was 15 and interrupted an amorous couple in the servants hall and caused the man to fly into a rage when he assumed his lover was trying to trap him, he bellowed at the woman and left – the woman who was indeed trying to trap him then screamed at Viola – who promptly lost her lunch on the woman’s hem. It was then that Viola realized she might never marry. Years pass and Viola’s fears only grow worse, she avoids social events as much as possible and has become a wallflower, she is sure she will be a spinster. But all that changes when Viola falls in love with the duke’s new vicar, Mr. Marlowe. Too bad he is already betrothed…

Devin Lucas Augustus Elstan, the Duke of Wynter is fighting with his cousin Otis, Otis has told Devin that he has changed his mind, he doesn’t want to be a vicar anymore and that he is going to travel abroad and find an heiress to wed. Devin convinces him to stay until they find another vicar, he also mentions that he is playing on marrying – he has already chosen his bride, Lady Joan Wilde. Otis warns that he will have a lot of competition, but Devin isn’t worried, he wants Joan and he gets what he wants.

Viola hatches a plan, she needs to get over her shyness (a task that Joan is helping her with) and show Mr. Marlowe that she is the perfect wife for him. She arranges a meeting in the library on the night of her debut ball. But when she arrives in the library, it is already occupied – she hides and hears Devin and his uncle talking – Sir Reginald tells Devin that Viola would be the perfect bride for him – Devin disagrees, he says that she isn’t really a Wilde and that she is a timid mouse. His uncle tells him he is wrong and that if he wants to get technical – Lady Joan isn’t a Wilde either. Devin doesn’t care, he wants Joan, end of story. When his uncle leaves, Mr. Marlowe arrives and Viola comes out of hiding. She makes comments that let Devin know that she heard him talking about her. Devin sends Mr. Marlowe away and escorts Viola back to the ball, on the way she gives him a proper set down and Devin admits that she is not the mouse he thought she was, intrigued he askes to escort her to supper – NO and she fobs him off on another woman he criticized.

Devin realizes his uncle was right, Lady Joan is not right for him, but Viola is perfect. He sets out to win her away from the vicar by means fair or foul. Even if he has to take advice from his cousin Otis, even if he has to woo her, even if he has to hire Mr. Marlowe away from the duke. But winning her is only part of it, soon he realizes he wants it all, her body, her heart and her love, a task made harder when he learns that he is the man that terrified her all those years ago…

I have enjoyed all the books in this series, but I LOVED this book, it is a well written, delightful, uncomplicated, steamyish read with wonderful characters and plenty of witty banter. Devin is a wonderful hero with a troubled childhood and fears of being unstable like his father and Viola wrestles with feelings of unworthiness and feeling like she doesn’t belong. I just love how together they learn to move on and find happiness. If you are looking for a fun, lighthearted read, look no further, this is that book.

This is the fifth book in the series, but it can easily be read as a stand-alone title. I highly recommend this series and this title especially.

*I am voluntarily leaving a review for an uncorrected eARC that was provided to me by Edelweiss and the publisher.*
Profile Image for Tammy.
893 reviews162 followers
May 26, 2020
5 hot and steamy stars! 🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥 My favorite of the entire series.
Profile Image for Nadia.
528 reviews177 followers
May 21, 2020
The beginning was strong and I really liked the banter. Eloisa James is a master at creating engaging, witty dialogues between her characters. I just wish there was a little more courting, a little more buildup to their relationship, because once they got married that's where the story between the main characters sort of starts lagging and the internal monologue turns repetitive. By the end of the book, I was more interested in the side characters than in the main couple.
Profile Image for Stacee.
2,694 reviews702 followers
May 16, 2020
Well, this was everything I wanted. I’ve loved this series from the beginning and I couldn’t wait to read another book.

I love love loved Viola and Devin. They’re more similar than they think and I enjoyed watching their relationship morph from antagonistic strangers to antagonistic acquaintances to antagonistic friends to antagonistic and in love. I adored his devotion to her and her acceptance of him.

Plot wise, it was good. It didn’t feel like much happened, but I’m here for a character driven story. I wanted Viola and Devin together a lot and that’s what I got. I did spend a good amount of time waiting for the angst to happen, but the slight conflict was minimal and over in a couple of pages.

Overall, this is a book I know I’ll be rereading. I loved these two so much and their journey was delightful.

**Huge thanks to Avon Books for providing the arc free of charge**
Profile Image for Debby *BabyDee*.
1,140 reviews58 followers
June 19, 2020
Love Eloisa James as an author and closing out this 5th book in the Wildes of Lindow Castle series was lovely. I truly loved the characters and had to chuckle when the Duke of Wynter stopped acting like an idiot and come to his senses. Loved the attraction and heat that the two main characters sparked up and showing the fears and shortcomings they possessed.

I though this was a very nice series with enjoyable and entertainable characters., the Wildes, and their family members provide hours of enjoyment. This story is sweet and heated, with two main characters who had flaws and fears of their own.

This was an audiobook listen for me and the narrator was Susan Duerdan who sometimes comes off as a hit or miss with her narration. I can say her narration on this story was spot on.
Profile Image for Sarah.
142 reviews36 followers
May 4, 2020
This was a delightful read for the most part. I loved Viola and Devin. Although Devin was an arrogant ass at first he quickly became my favorite character. He was so sweet. Viola was an excellent character and I loved seeing her come into her own and get over her shyness. My one complaint is that I hate sex scenes with ow even when it’s before the H and h meet, especially if the h witnesses it. I know a lot of the plot ends up revolving around the one incident but I still think it was yucky and unromantic. That the writer could make me like the hero after that is very impressive.
Profile Image for ✩ Yaz ✩.
486 reviews1,195 followers
September 19, 2020
⭐️⭐️⭐️ - 3

Say Yes to the Duke was I must say.... a bland regency romance unfortunately. It was promising in the beginning since I was getting Lizzie Bennet and Mr. Darcy vibes from Miss Viola Ashley and Devin, Duke of Wynter, but everything fell flat later on.

I enjoyed the banter between them but the romance developed very quickly there wasn’t any build up and slow burn to it.
Profile Image for Jen Davis.
Author 7 books695 followers
April 14, 2020
Hands-down this is my favorite book in this series. And interestingly, I wasn’t really excited about it before I started. After all, the heroine isn’t really a Wilde... She is the stepsister, Violet. Or at least that is what I thought before I started reading. The question of whether Violet is a real part of the family is one of the biggest points in the book. And the answer is a resounding yes.

Violet loves her family, but she has never felt like she really fit in. Her brothers and sisters are all larger than life and she is a shrinking… well, you know. The very thought of being the center of attention makes her sick to her stomach, and now that she has to enter society, there are few things which sound worse.

Devon, the duke referenced in the title, figures marriage is something he just has to endure. He must marry a woman of the nobility and Violet's sister, Joanne, seems like she has the proper pedigree. When his uncle suggests Violet, he made the same assumption I did. She’s not a real daughter of the Duke. Only, Violet overhears him saying so and suddenly loses all of her fear. It’s replaced by ire, and she doesn’t hesitate to let the duke know exactly what she thinks of his analysis.

And so their relationship gets off on a contentious foot. Instead of being put off by it, though, Devin is fascinated by Violet and her complete disinterest in his title. Decides to woo her, despite her kind of schoolgirl infatuation with her local vicar. And that is the set up in a nutshell.

What’s interesting about Violet is that she is only shy with strangers, which means there is a part of her, usually reserved for family and friends, which is witty and even a little biting. I loved that side of her. She is a bit younger than Devin which is not one of my favorite tropes, but it did help explain some of her nerves. Her youth, that is.

What I liked about this is how early Devin sees Violet's value and how freeing his initial assessment of her really was. I like that both of them work through their issues without some terrible black moment brought on by anyone’s bad choices. In fact, Devin's worry throughout the entire book about exposing his past misdeeds… I loved the way that was settled. So many other books would’ve had a ridiculous blow up that would’ve felt contrived. Here, how it all worked out was completely in keeping with both characters.

And while Violet loved animals, like many other historical romance heroines, it was not to any ridiculous extreme. It just felt like the quirk of a shy young girl who found comfort in things that would not reject her. I've read some other books where this was developed in a way that was downright silly.

Like I said, this book was a win for me. I flew through it and can say it would easily stand up as a standalone. Would recommend.

*ARC provided by publisher
Profile Image for eyes.2c.
2,367 reviews44 followers
April 19, 2022
Viola comes into her own! (Ah Viola!! Still as enjoyable as ever! 17/4/22)

Where to start! This had it all!
There's the explosive beginning--in more ways than one. At fifteen Viola Astley, the stepdaughter of Hugo Wilde, Duke of Lindow, attends her first ball. A disaster! Unable to contain her nervous nausea Viola (the overlooked Wilde) seeks a quick exit only to catch a couple in flagrante delicto, and "empties her stomach" all over the paramour. (Of course there's more going on in this scene on many levels). That awful experience colors Viola's outlook.
From then on public functions have been the bane of her life, leaving her exhausted and cowered, slipping around the edges of gatherings, invisible and lost to all.
Viola, is the much overlooked painfully shy heroine--except when she isn't! And then she's so much more! Some very amusing scenes featuring animals tell a different tale.
Viola feels she just can't compare to her extroverted siblings, they're bold and outrageous--she's quiet, they're tall and dark, she's small and timid. "She was the complete opposite of a Wilde." In fact "her earliest memories were defined by feeling 'not Wilde.'" And here Viola becomes stuck in her 'not Wilde' mantra, a defining of herself that makes her self image so much less.
Three years later Viola has to suffer her come out, a daunting prospect that leaves her sick with fear. However all that changes when she falls in love. Viola has fixed her affections on the new vicar Mr. Marlowe, never mind that he's engaged to the opinionated Miss Pettigrew. Here's a little conundrum that deters Viola not in the least!
Devin Lucas Augustus Elstan, Duke of Wynter, who's generally thought to be cold and arrogant needs to take a wife. He pins his sights on Joan Wilde but it's Viola (the not a Wilde) who challenges him. An unexpected meeting in the library between Devin and Viola during the ball opens the way for a divergence of thought for the reclusive Duke. Unknowingly Viola has interested Devin, whose defence before the world is an eyebrow lift and a quelling demeanour. Viola, who's used to such dukely ways is not impressed and gives back as much as she gets.
As this engaging story evolves, Viola comes into her own, Mr. Marlowe turns up trumps and the Duke, well he becomes less dukely. A fab Regency Romp' witty, humorous and fun.
As I've stated many times, I just love the Wildes!!!

A HarperCollins ARC via NetGalley
Profile Image for Arriesta.
63 reviews15 followers
March 27, 2020
So damn good....

This book is one of the best from The Wildes of Lindow Castle series, it was that darn good! I love family saga’s and The Wildes are one of those families akin to Julia Quinn’s The Bridgertons.
Miss Viola Astley is the painfully shy, stepsister to the Wilde siblings. Her upcoming debut is so anxiety inducing, she can not even speak to a man, let alone marry one, that is…. until she meets the kind new vicar, Viola begins to imagine herself with a future with his, regardless of the fact that he is already engaged.

She begins to put herself out there in order to develop more confidence, and at a ball meets Devin Lucas Augustus Elstan, Duke of Wynter. Once Devin encounters Viola, he won’t stop to have her as his wife, regardless of the fact she fancies herself in love with the viscar. After pursuing Viola, she accepts the Dukes marriage proposal where the young couple learn more about each other, their feeling and desires.

I loved the interaction between all the characters in this story. The secondary couples between Mr. Marlowe, his fiancé and Caitlin are very cute in a beta male way. Viola’s sister Joan are heavily featured, and I can’t wait to see how her story plays out.

Great characters, plot lines, slow burn romance. 4 out of 5 stars. I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review from Edelweiss and Avon.
Profile Image for Becky (romantic_pursuing_feels).
690 reviews393 followers
April 21, 2021
Overall: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 4.5 rounded to 5 stars
Plot/Storyline: 📖📖📖📖 4 books
Feels: 🦋🦋🦋🦋 4 butterflies
Emotional Depth: 💔💔💔💔 4 broken hearts
Sexual Tension: ⚡⚡⚡ 3 lightnings
Romance: 💞💞💞💞💞 5 hearts
Sensuality: 💋💋💋💋 4 kisses
Sex Scene Length: 🍑🍑🍑 3 peaches
Steam Scale (Number of Sex Scenes): 🔥🔥🔥 3 fires
Hero Jerk Scale: 😠 1 of 5 angry faces
Humor: Yes!

Finally, finally, have read the next book in the Wilde series. I think this book is fine as a stand alone (it has been a LONG TIME since I’ve read the prior books, and I felt it’s easy to jump into.) but you will get a touch more enjoyment if you read in order. There are some character appearances and others from the series are mentioned. Viola is mentioned in the previous book as being painfully shy but the character depth isn’t extensive.

Viola Astley worries that she’s not a true Wilde. Even though she has been embraced and raised and loved by the family, she feels she’s standing on the outside and other’s judge her the same. It’s given her confidence issues. This has been compounded by her having a disastrous experience at one of her first balls at 15 where she witnesses a lord and lady fornicating and it results in scary yelling and vomiting on someone. She is sure she will never love and just wants to live in peace with her family and not face dancing, balls, society, or men in general.

But that all changes for her when she meets the quiet spoken vicar serving her family. She can suddenly talk and be herself. She believes it’s love. As she’s moving her plan forward to catch the vicar, she is compromised by the Duke of Wynter.

Give this book a try if you are in the mood for:
- Georgian time period – 1781 – we are in the time of big dresses, wigs, and heels! I found this a lovely change from the ever present Regency time, and James does a lovely job of describing the clothing, which is something I think lacking in HR sometimes. If you are worried about men wearing wig, it’s only a few occasions and this hero says he will only wear them when he must.
- A slow burn – It takes awhile to build up to it, but once Devin and Viola are together its lovely touches and kisses repeatedly building.
- Moderate-ish steam – lots of kisses and a handful of on page sex scenes
- A touch of love triangle – Viola believes she’s in love with the vicar, but Wynter convinces her otherwise.
- A bit of an age gap – I believe the hero is ten years older than the heroine (quite common for HR). I can’t recall the heroine’s specific age, but I believe she’s around 18 or 19?
- You like a feisty old lady side character – Lady Knowe has always been my favorite character in the series. I truly wish James would give her her own HEA in a book/novella. I would LOVE that.
- No villain/mystery – this book is pure relationship development and love
- Ruined heroine – the heroine is compromised about halfway through the book
- I did put this under full figured heroines – there’s talk about her thighs being plump and she’s self conscious she’s not tall and willowy like her Wilde siblings. I would consider her curvy.
- It is a bit of a sunshine heroine and grumpy hero trope

I adored this story. I went in with such low expectations as I haven’t really been in love with the series so far. It’s been all right, but nothing I was breathless over or wanted to reread ever. And this story was soooo slow in the beginning. Really, really slow. And I am impatient for the couple to get together. I think in the first 100 pages they were only together for like 30 of them. I am so glad I kept going though because once they are together it was lovely.

Their banter together was just so funny, spunky and pleasant. Viola is a wonderful heroine. I enjoyed seeing her with her family and finding her confidence with the help of her sister Joan (the other non-Wilde Wilde) I was worried she was going to take things with the vicar too far or too long, but that didn’t happen. She was just so caring, I loved her animal friends and I love how she melded with Devin and was everything he needed.

Devin was a delight. I didn’t know how he would be, as he’s introduced as a harsh and cold man. Which if you know me perks my curiosity lol. But underneath is was just pure LOVE. When he meets Viola under hilarious circumstances, she definitely piques his interest immediately. And he starts falling for her, wants to pursue her, and even declares he’s going to woo her to be his wife. And you know what’s desperately missing in so many romances now? Wooing. Where did the wooing go??? And while it’s cut a bit short in this book, his attention was exactly what I loved and didn’t know I was missing so much. I was worried he was going to be a jerk or there was going to be a big miscommunication but it wasn’t like that at all. He was utterly wonderful and the ending worked out.

I do think the book was a touch long. It could probably be cut by 100 pages without damaging the relationship in any way. For me it dragged in the beginning, I see in other reviews it dragged in the end. But I loved their relationship so much that it doesn’t affect the rating for me. Definitely my favorite of the series so far. I just loved it, it was exactly what I needed at that time, something lighter, funny, and just falling in love fluffiness.

locations of kisses/sex
Profile Image for Maida.
Author 13 books442 followers
May 20, 2020
Fun, funny, and fluffy, Say Yes to the Duke is filled with zany Wilde family shenanigans, a blasphemous theatrical performance, and numerous hot kisses and consensual sexytimes.

It's one thing for Miss Viola Astley, stepdaughter to the Duke of Lindow, to feel inadequate in not being a true Wilde, it's another for Devin, Duke of Wynter, to dismiss her as a candidate to be his duchess for the same reason. What started as a case of you-don't-want-me-then-I-don't-want-you-either turned into desire after their first public kiss and to love as they get to know each other better.

I like the way Viola came out of her shy, socially-inept shell with the attention showered upon her by Devin. I also like that Devin's arrogance is turned down a notch as a result of his courtship of Viola. I very much approve of the way he catered to her needs, especially on their wedding night.

As usual, there are thousands of secondary characters, but as I've said before, Ms. James has a talent for making them distinct and memorable without them overshadowing the leads.

Overall, a light easy read that's perfect for this time of never-ending worries.
Profile Image for Alvina.
406 reviews18 followers
July 25, 2020
Its an enemies to friends to lovers romance. Viola and Devin are quite firmly in dislike at the start of the novel but quickly form a “friendship”.

The heroine Viola seems to suffer from some sort of social anxiety stemming from lack of confidence and thoughts of not belonging. Some heroines have cats, this heroine has friends of the bovine persuasion that she confides in. She also “doesnt realize her beauty” 🙄. To be honest, this anxiety is only present in the first 8 or so chapters of the novel. Then poof! It was interesting that her sister Joan unintentionally initiates some talk therapy with her—while it was annoying that the anxiety somehow magically disappeared, I can understand how redirecting her thoughts helped her overcome her nausea.

She is “in love” with a Vicar because she feels peaceful around him and makes a plan to woo him away from his fiancée. I dont think it was malicious or I’d have a bigger problem with the heroine; the whole plan just serves as a plot point to highlight how sheltered the heroine is when it comes to life.

We’re also intentionally introduced to Devin when he’s describing to his uncle what type of bride he’d choose. Of course, this is romance land and Viola is hiding in the curtains, eaves-dropping on our hero when he’s at his obnoxious worst. I dont begrudge the man for his preferences but he is clearly cynical and soo over and done with society. In his own way, he was also sheltered.

Cue witty banter, a heavy exhibitionist kink, a quirky heroine, etc etc. It was like an opaque picture, outlines and colors but no clarity or impact. There’s a secret that I thought was a cheap way to introduce conflict to an otherwise villain-less romance, and the last half of the book is preoccupied with secondary characters who are likable but contribute nothing to Viola and Devin’s relationship.

I didnt really connect with this story, I have a massive case of secondhand embarrassment so several scenes straight up made me uncomfortable, but everyone was perfectly pleasant enough to pass the time. The novel’s plot summary has more intensity than the plot itself.
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