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The Duke Undone

(Untitled #1)

3.77  ·  Rating details ·  268 ratings  ·  96 reviews
An artist stumbles upon a naked duke and an unlikely love story begins in this captivating Victorian historical romance.

When Royal Academy painting student Lucy Coover trips over a naked man passed out in an East End alley, she does the decent thing. She covers him up and fetches help. Trouble is, she can't banish his muscular form from her dreams as easily. She finds hers
Paperback, 384 pages
Published April 6th 2021 by Berkley Books
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Tara Gelsomino Yes! Book 2, The Runaway Duchess, will star Lavinia and comes out January 18, 2022. Book 3, A Lord Notorious, features Alan De' Ath an art critic who …moreYes! Book 2, The Runaway Duchess, will star Lavinia and comes out January 18, 2022. Book 3, A Lord Notorious, features Alan De' Ath an art critic who is mentioned briefly in book 1 and figures heavily at the end of book 2, and will release in Fall 2022. (less)

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Average rating 3.77  · 
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Jan 26, 2021 rated it really liked it
Shelves: ebook-owned, arc
3.5 stars - This was my first outing with this author, and I think it is quite an impressive start! The writing was particularly lovely, so I would definitely recommend this as a good choice for readers who value prose quality. I very much enjoyed all of the individual elements of the story (the main characters were well drawn, the set up/tropes were intriguing & well executed, and I believed in all of the motivations)... however, I did feel like the individual elements didn't quite come togethe ...more
Christy W
Apr 13, 2021 rated it it was amazing
4.5 🌟 This book came across my perusals in Audible. The premise sounded interesting and far from ordinary, and I wasn’t disappointed. Having Mary Jane Wells narrate was perfection. Her performance added much to the story (especially heroine’s personality). The time period wasn’t always clear and I would have liked more details there, but that’s being particular. It didn’t obstruct my enjoyment of the author’s work.
The characters and storyline worked perfectly with the greatness of Mary Jane Wel
Twice Upon A Book
Feb 19, 2021 rated it it was ok
Shelves: arc
Thank you to NetGalley and Berkley for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.

CW: grief, death of a parent, PTSD, emotional abuse, alcoholism; side characters: trapped in a mental institution, suicide

I'm really struggling with how to rate this one.

This book started off strong, with a very surprising we'll call it a meet-cute, some great banter, and instant chemistry. But then it seemed to lose some of the tension, the middle really slowing down.

Lucy was so independent and driven to become an
Natasha is a Book Junkie
I won't lie, this is one of those books I picked entirely because of its gorgeous cover, having never heard of this author before, and it was SUCH a wonderful surprise. The perfect blend of romance, intrigue, and humour, this is the story of Lucy Coover, an art student at the British Royal Academy, who after stumbling upon a naked man passed out drunk in an alley, is compelled to immortalise his perfect form on canvas. Little does she know that she is painting the one and only Duke of Weston, a ...more
Dec 29, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Wrote a blog post about my top ten books I read this year and published it today, and this one should have made the list. I need to sleep on it before going into my full, gushing review, which will be on My thanks to the author, publisher, and NetGalley for giving me a copy in exchange for my honest review. ...more
Jan 10, 2021 rated it really liked it
Loved this! Ever since I saw the cover, I knew I had to pick it up.

This story centers around Lucy and Anthony. Lucy is an art student at the Academy, who just so happens to come discover our Duke, Anthony, in the buff. Without getting too detailed, Lucy decides to use nude Anthony as inspiration for her latest painting. Unfortunately once and how Anthony discovers this, leads to all sorts of trouble for Lucy.

What I really enjoyed about this story in particular, is that with most historical rom
Apr 06, 2021 rated it really liked it
The Duke Undone matches up a young duke with a student of painting. Anthony is dealing with a lot of past trauma, including his mother's institutionalization and suicide, his own court martial, and a father who never approved of him while alive and is now posthumously controlling the dukedom through a codicil to the will. Lucy has her own issues to deal with: her education at the Royal Academy is hampered because the women students are not given the same access to classes as the men, and because ...more
Erin Boyington
Pretty sure I'm on record as disliking historical romances. Most of the time writers simply transpose modern attitudes and progressive morals onto their characters. As someone who likes Victorian fiction, the disconnect between attitude and era is jarring.

That said, I'm glad I made an exception to read this book. Perhaps it's because I know so little about the Royal Academy and the author clearly knows a LOT, though she never bogs down the plot with historical background. (Also she knows a lot a
Mar 07, 2021 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2021
Struggling art student, Lucy Coover, trips over an unconscious naked man in an alley. When she is unable to wake him, she covers him up as best as possible and heads on her way. However, she cannot get him out of her mind, and since women cannot attend the life classes at the Royal Academy she decides to take this opportunity and paint his image. When rent comes due, Lucy sells the painting in order to make the payment. Unfortunately for Lucy, the naked man is none other than the Duke of Weston, ...more
Kelsey (Bookishly Nerdy)
I was lucky to be gifted an eARC of this book to review. This is a great rom-com story, with crazy shenanigans and the steamy tension one looks for in a historical romance. I have not read anything by this author before, but the synopsis of this story sounded amazing and I knew I had to give it a try.

This follows a duke and a lower class lady who are connected because of a painting she created of him. Due to the nature surrounding the painting, they strike up a bargain to help each other out wit
Feb 09, 2021 rated it really liked it
I found this book fairly delightful as well as chock-full of the fun historical details I love -- the role of women at the Royal Academy of Art being primary here. There was angst, of course, but so well described and believable. Anthony's struggle with alcohol is visceral and yet described in a period-appropriate way, and I fully enjoyed watching him being awoken to the problems of the less-privileged in Victorian London. The writing flowed, minor characters were engaging and main characters be ...more
The Duke Undone is exquisitely written, much darker in tone than its hot pink and floral cover would suggest, and reads like a combination of Evie Dunmore, Laura Kinsale, and popular fiction from the Victorian era. This mix worked well for me until the book’s fourth quarter, when its historical and psychological realism became too disparate from the melodrama. However, I was impressed by the quality of the prose, the affecting portrait of alcohol dependency, and the satisfying cross-class romanc ...more
Nov 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2020
When I read the synopsis and began the book, Lucy stumbles over a naked man in an alley, paints his portrait, then discovers the man is a Duke, I was expecting a lighthearted romp. Instead I found a very emotional story with complex characters and issues. Lucy, the daughter of an alcoholic, lives in the slums with her great aunt now that her parents are dead. She attends the Royal Academy of Arts and is desperate to save her home from being condemned by a corrupt government body, while trying to ...more
Nov 30, 2020 rated it really liked it
Lucy Coover is a painting student at the Royal Academy. One day she stumbles across a passed out naked man in an alleyway. The artist in her makes her sketch and eventually paint him. The man is Anthony Philby, a Duke with lots of restrictions upon him. He was a solider and second son. He is haunted by the brutality of war and was never trained to inherit. His father's will leaves the estate in the hands a trustee till Anthony can prove he can manage his own affairs.

This is a more serious roman
Dec 23, 2020 rated it really liked it
I really liked this book - there were some real stakes and I felt like both characters changed for knowing each other. My one real quibble is that Anthony's alcoholism was fully glossed over at the end, which was disappointing because it was a big part of the story. There was nothing about how he overcame it, although it was hinted that it went away because of the love of a woman (blech).

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the advance copy.
Oct 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This book is incredible. Joanna Lowell gives us mystery, intrigue, humor, passion and above all— a love story. I was so impressed with how real and relatable the characters’ tribulations and triumphs felt and Joanna’s writing is so vivid, it blurred the line between imagining and experiencing. There is also a big emphasis placed on consent, which endeared the love interest all the more. I seriously could not recommend this more highly.
Mar 25, 2021 rated it really liked it
The Duke Undone
Joanna Lowell
Release Date 04/06/2021
Publisher Berkley


An artist stumbles upon a naked duke and an unlikely love story begins in this captivating Victorian historical romance.
When Royal Academy painting student Lucy Coover trips over a naked man passed out in an East End alley, she does the decent thing. She covers him up and fetches help. Trouble is, she can't banish his muscular form from her dreams as easily. Compelled to capture eve
In a romance meet-up for the ages, an artist paints a nude based on an unconscious man in an alley and that painting leads him to her art studio. Awkwardness, anger, and a mutual deal is struck. Can a dissipated man fighting the nightmares of his past and an artist in need of financial assistance find their way to love? I was excited to get back my historical romance mojo with this new to me author and start of series.

Lucy Coover lives and breathes her art, but in Victorian Era London, she doesn
Feb 09, 2021 rated it it was amazing
“Greed is like filling a cup with a hole at the bottom, it will never fill.” —Unknown

”To me, the thing that is worse than death is betrayal. You see, I could conceive death, but I could not conceive betrayal.” – Malcolm X

“If you don’t build your dream, someone else will hire you to help them build theirs.”. Dhirubhai Ambani

"Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people's thinking." -Steve Jobs

Rose Blue
Apr 09, 2021 rated it it was amazing
A top pick at Roses Are Blue:

Lucy Coover has to travel through some dodgy areas to get to her painting class at the Royal Academy of Arts. She’s seem some strange and unsavory things, but this is the first time she’s come across a corpse, and a naked one, at that. Believing that the man was robbed and stripped, Lucy uses her shawl to cover a certain part of his anatomy, hoping to afford him some dignity, when she discovers that he’s still breathing. Then she discovers th
Apr 07, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: arc, favorites
The Duke Undone was written by an unknown-to-me author, Joanna Lowell. Now that she is known to me, I will be eagerly awaiting her next book. Truly, I breathed this book in. I seriously didn't want to put it down, and I sped through the pages. The description of the book sounds light and fluffy, but it isn't. There are serious issues herein, but humor, too. There are some emotional triggers I will warn you about: alcoholism, mental illness and PTSD. All combined to make a riveting story.

Lucy Coo
2.5 stars


The Duke Undone is my first Joanna Lowell’s. It starts off strong … but then few heavy issues make the book rather unbalanced for me to enjoy. And I have very difficult time to like the main hero. In the end, I didn’t enjoy it as much as I would’ve liked.

The main issue for me is Anthony’s problem with alcohol. The first chapter (or the Prologue) has Lucy stumbles into Anthony’s naked DRUNK body. This alcoholism happens several times in the book – in which L
Apr 02, 2021 rated it really liked it
Wow! This book is so good! It is entertaining, full of twists and turns, heart-wrenching, romantic, witty, moving, and much more! Whenever I picked up "The Duke Undone", I was whisked back in time to the Victorian Era, and went on quite the journey with this story!

Firstly, how absolutely STUNNING is this cover! I was intrigued from the minute I saw it, and am so glad to have received an ARC of this book! It fits the book perfectly!

This is the first book I have read by Joanna Lowell, and I can't
Thank you so much to Berkely Romance and Netgalley for providing an e-arc copy in exchange for an honest review.

First of all, if I'm to rate this purely on enjoyment, it would be an easy 4 stars. I really like the plot, the different class trope, the banter & chemistry between the characters, the friendships. But I have some mild hesitation in giving this a full 4 star rating because I felt like a certain aspect wasn't... handled the best. S0 -

1. The stakes felt real. This is one of those ra
I received and ARC through Netgalley. Thanks to Berkley Publishing Group for the copy. All opinions expressed are my own.

Lucy has grown up in a family of artists. Her parents, though deceased now, made careers of sketching. Lucy lives with her great-aunt, who was a clothing designer. Lucy herself is a painter. She has the opportunity to attend classes at the Royal Academy alongside other talented women.

Anthony's life has been extremely difficult. Born the second son of a duke, Anthony has served
Lindsay  pinkcowlandreads
This was a great start to a new series following characters from the Royal Academy of arts!

I’m a sucker for historicals featuring artist and this art school crew harkened me back to my own college days…

Lucy Coover is trying to find a subject for a painting to make her mark on the Royal Academy, but this is hard to do when the female students are prohibited from attending the life drawing classes. Lucky for her, she walks right into… or should I saw on to, the perfect male form as she is on her
Denise Diaz
Apr 16, 2021 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
I received an Advance Reader Copy from the publisher via Edelweiss. This in no way impacted on my view.

After Lucy Coover discovers a naked man in an alleyway in the East End of London, she covers him up, and then paints his likeness. A budding artist, and student at the Royal Academy, it's a dream for her to attend the school, but as a young woman, she is denied access to life model. Seeing the naked man was a boon, and her painting of him, depicted as Endymion, managed to sell well. She thought
Apr 05, 2021 rated it it was amazing
I read a lot of historical romance books and I was surprised when I started reading this one and realized it was way above in writing and plot than most of the others I have read. Not that the others were horrible, just that after reading so many the formula and stories start to blend into each other. The Duke Undone was so refreshing and new. It starts out with Lucy, an art student tripping over a man in an alley and he ends up acting as a muse of sorts. His image brings about a painting that h ...more
Dec 06, 2020 rated it really liked it
**I received this as an egalley from the publisher through Edelweiss in return for an honest review.**

This was a captivating story that grabbed my attention from the synopsis and held it to the end of the actual book. I enjoyed almost everything about it - the premise, the characters, the storyline.

The characters were wonderfully complex and compelling, especially Anthony who is struggling with so many things and trying to do good in circumstances that don't give him much control, but still mak
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Joanna Lowell lives among the fig trees in North Carolina, where she teaches in the English department at Wake Forest University. When she’s not writing historical romance, she writes collections and novels as Joanna Ruocco. Those books include Dan, Another Governess / The Least Blacksmith, The Week, and Field Glass, co-authored with Joanna Howard.

Other books in the series

Untitled (3 books)
  • The Runaway Duchess
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