Tammy Walton Grant's Reviews > The Duke

The Duke by Gaelen Foley
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Aug 18, 2010

it was amazing
bookshelves: hr-regency, 2011-february, tropes-courtesan-mistress, romance-series-must-read-in-order, favorites, romance-angsty, romance-historical, tropes-stuffed-shirt-hero
Read from February 08 to 10, 2011 — I own a copy , read count: 2

4.5 stars

February must be 'courtesan' month at my house. Somehow I've managed to read three in a row, all with variations on the same theme. All with a different spin, all wonderful.

When I joined GoodReads and starting reading reviews I noticed that lots of people have issues with 'courtesan' romances. I don't get it, myself. It's a plot device, no different than the spinster, or the rake, or the wallflower. The courtesan is never really a courtesan; she is almost always forced into it due to circumstances beyond her control. Most of the time if she isn't still a virgin she is so inexperienced she might as well be. It is always a romanticized version of a kept-woman or mistress; no street-walkers, doxies or gin-hounds inhabit the pages of historical romance novels. Or at least, not as the heroine. Some of the most romantic, sigh-worthy stories I have read have been about courtesans. And look at Pretty Woman - there's a reason that movie was so popular, and it wasn't all because of Richard Gere.

The first one I read this month was The Duke.

I loved Robert, Duke of Hawkscliffe. Uptight, somewhat repressed, shouldering an overwhelming burden of duty and honour for no other reason than that he has been told all of his life that he must. Just the type of Hero that needs rescuing from himself.

And Belinda Hamilton. I have been reading historical romances for years, and the sheer tenuousness of a woman's position in that society has never been brought home to me more clearly than in this book. In the blink of an eye, Bel loses her father to gaol, her position as teacher at a finishing school, her home, her intended and her future. When we meet her she is selling oranges on a street corner. All of this due to the whims of a spoiled wastrel named Dolph. When she refuses him, he ruins her life. Bel is attacked and raped by the warden from the gaol one night and when she recovers, she approaches a famous courtesan and finds sanctuary in her home.

Hawkscliffe and Bel ally themselves in order to gain revenge on a common enemy. In the process, they fall in love.

Their story is full of choices - heartbreaking ones, like those in real life usually are. Robert must choose between the life he has always thought he would lead, and the life that he actually wants. Watching him fall in love (very much in spite of himself), profess his love, then make some really bad decisions based on what he thinks he should do rather than what he wants to do, is wrenching.

And Bel - she must choose as well. To stay with the man she loves and share him, or to leave him, knowing how much he loves her, in order to be true to herself.

I cheered for these two all the way through the book. To be honest I wasn't sure how it would end or if they would get their HEA, even though they deserved it so much.

Their story is wonderfully written. The flirting they do with each other, when they dance together, when she hosts a political dinner at his home, when they kiss, it all feels REAL. The joy they find in each other, the love they feel for one another fairly jumps off the pages. (And so do the love scenes, btw. Very nicely done. There is also a progression to their physical relationship that seems very real - all in stages, just like real life.)

What a wonderful story. Angsty, full of emotion, a historical Pretty Woman. With an ending as big, and as romantic, and as "Aaaawwwww" invoking as the one in the movie.

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Reading Progress

02/09 page 233
02/19 page 85
21.0% ""...You could be gambler. A thief, for all I know. Besides-" She turned and scowled at him. "Besides what, you insufferable prude?" "Prude, eh? Do you need another kiss to remind you what a prude I am?" He tugged her closer with a gentle pull, smiling roguishly in spite of himself. "Don't you dare." "Then don't call me names." "You started it."" 9 comments
07/31 marked as: read
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Comments (showing 1-36 of 36) (36 new)

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message 1: by TJ (new)

TJ I actually owned this one for awhile. I would pick it up then put it back down, pick it up then think, nah. I never could decide if I wanted to read about kidnapping and rape as a romance maker. I can't wait to see what you think when you read it!

Tammy Walton Grant Tam would you believe I just saw this comment now? I got a coupon from thriftbooks for 15% off for my birthday so I've ordered this one. I'll let you know what it's like when I get it.

message 3: by Quinn (new) - added it

Quinn Excellent review, Tammy. I definitely need to read this one. I don't have any problem at all with courtesan heroines (as my love affair with Anna Campbell's books will attest!).

Tammy Walton Grant Oh, tell me about it (says the girl who sat in her pjs all day and read Anna Campbell)!

Thanks, Quinn! This book is really worth reading - I was surprised at how much I liked it. Something about the Hero pushed a button I've got buried somewhere, I think ;D And now I'm going to order the rest of the series.

Ally72 Super review, Tammy!

message 6: by Quinn (new) - added it

Quinn Tammy wrote: "Oh, tell me about it (says the girl who sat in her pjs all day and read Anna Campbell)!"

LOL! Have you read Tempt the Devil yet? You'll need to set aside another pj day for that one!

Denise Great review Tammy! I loved this one too. I have to get to reading more of the series.

Tammy Walton Grant Thanks Ally and Denise :)

Quinn, I got Untouched from the library in case I didn't like it as much as Claiming the Courtesan. Pah! How silly was that! Now I'm going to buy her whole backlist, and plan for another pj day each time I read one of her books.

message 9: by Karla (last edited Feb 21, 2011 12:54PM) (new)

Karla I don't understand why the courtesan is such a non-fave/barely tolerated device either. Like you said, it's just any other character type and they're so not realistic in these romances. More like Hello Kitty Hookers.

Bring on the whores, I say! They'd at least be interesting.

Tammy Walton Grant More like Hello Kitty Hookers

HA! You crack me up. Of course, you're exactly right. There is more dimension to their characters than some little namby-pamby daughter of a viscount, blushing madly when some fop touches her hand.

Julianna Wonderful review, Tammy! I loved this one too for pretty much all the reasons you mentioned.

Tammy Walton Grant Thanks, Julie!

Catherine Great review, Tammy! I've heard great things about this time and time again, but when it comes time to pick it up I always skip it and grab something else. I have no idea why.

message 14: by Tammy (last edited Feb 21, 2011 08:45PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Tammy Walton Grant Thanks, Catherine! Isn't that funny the way that works? I have books like that on my living room shelves that I keep passing over again and again, for no reason whatsoever. If it's any consolation, I did it with this book as well. And the story itself is WAY better than the back of the book makes it sound.

Catherine I actually didn't know it was about a prostitute until I read your review. I didn't even read the summary, I just grabbed it because UM raved about it in all her updates. I didn't know anything about the story except it was angsty.

Is that weird? I do that all the time. It seems like it's rare for me to read a book summary.

Tammy Walton Grant You're probably lucky then! I've read some that have been so different from the book inside that I was ready to choke someone when I was done the book.

I usually love reading the back of the book, then the inside front cover. One reason that I haven't bought a kindle yet -- I'd miss those summaries, big time.

message 17: by Catherine (last edited Feb 21, 2011 09:19PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Catherine I read them when I'm browsing on my own in the store or on Amazon. But I rarely read the actual summary of a book when I get interested from reading someone's updates or reviews. I also don't read them for books I know I'm going to read because it's part of a loved author or series. I've gotten spoiled too many times to not be wary.

message 18: by [deleted user] (last edited Feb 21, 2011 10:27PM) (new)

Karla (Mossy Love Grotto) wrote: "I don't understand why the courtesan is such a non-fave/barely tolerated device either. Like you said, it's just any other character type and they're so not realistic in these romances. More like H..."

I agree as three of my fav books are about this subject. One is Norah Lofts the Day of the Butterfly. I also like Memoirs of a Geisha and Forever Amber. They are sure not boring and not predictable either.

Day of the Butterfly
Memoirs of a Geisha
Forever Amber

KatLynne Great review Tammy! This is one of my favorites!

Tammy Walton Grant Thanks, KatLynne! I loved it as well - going on my keeper shelf, for sure.

UniquelyMoi ~ BlithelyBookish Wonderful review, Tammy. This one is a keeper, to be sure!

Tammy Walton Grant Hi Dhes, thanks very much! I was just over reading your review - I'll head back over there to tell you how much I liked it! I think you and I felt the same way about the book, and about Robert and Bel.

UniquelyMoi ~ BlithelyBookish I agree, Tammy, I think we're both on the same page with this one. I enjoyed your review because it made me remember things I'd forgotten about Robert and Bel. What an amazing hero and heroine!!

Tammy Walton Grant They were -- all this talking has made me want to re-read it, lol.

UniquelyMoi ~ BlithelyBookish Tammy wrote: "They were -- all this talking has made me want to re-read it, lol."

I know!!!!!! At the very least it's making me want to read the next book!

 Lady Jayne *~*The Beach Bandida*~* Awesome review, Tammy! As we've discussed on your the Lord of Fire thread, I loved this, too. One of my keepers, for sure.

Both you and Dhestiny articulated so well in your reviews what I loved about the story and why I fell in love with Robert, too. I still haven't been able to write mine! And likely won't now. LOL There are so many wonderful reviews on this book already.

Tammy Walton Grant Hi Jayne, thanks! I have books like that as well, where I loved them but couldn't find anything to say that hadn't already been done. :)

I'm definitely re-reading this one, pronto. :D

message 28: by [deleted user] (new)

Fabulous review Tammy. Loved what you had to say about prositutes in the genre -- and of course you're totally right. I'm looking forward to reading this one, it sounds like a cracker of a book.

Tammy Walton Grant Thanks very much, Moss! I LOVED this book, hope you like it.

message 30: by [deleted user] (new)

It looks very promising, and I've scored two fabulous buddy readers to make it even more fun, so I think a good time will be had.

Also, Tom Selleck? Is nommy nom noms.

Tammy Walton Grant Oh good! Let me know how you make out with the book and how you like it.

Also, Tom Selleck? Is nommy nom noms.

Yes, Tom's chest hair is my mid-life crisis. ;D

message 32: by [deleted user] (new)

Tammy wrote: "Yes, Tom's chest hair is my mid-life crisis. ;D "

Hehe as symbols of mid-life crises go, he's not bad. Beats a red Lamborghini any day.

Tammy Walton Grant Much, much cheaper also. ;P

♥Aicha~high~on~books♥ Great review Tammy!
I appreciate it when a review tells me exactly whether or not the book is my type.
This one sure looks like it.! :)

Tammy Walton Grant Thanks very much! I hope you enjoy it. There doesn't seem to be much middle ground with this book - either you love it or you very much don't. Let me know what you think. :)

message 36: by Praise (new)

Praise OMG! Tammy, thanks for this review, You did justice to this books, I appreciate big time.. Come to think of it, I won't mind u guys recommending great books,coupled with hero bin a Duke and also bin an highwayman, that double life, Pls Amy recommendations.

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