The Other Duke (The Notorious Flynns Book 1) by Jess Michaels
I find myself torn between my liking of the characters and wanting more meat on the bones of the plot.
I have a great deal of sympathy for both Rafe, the Duke of Hartholm, and Serafina McPhee. The hook, that of both protagonists being forced into something neither wants, works well. For Serafina this is just the continuation of the story of her life. Certainly her plight brings home the historical assumption that women (particularly of this strata of society) were merely objects to barter for land, inheritance and funds, with little or no say in the direction of their life and their future partner. Serafina's treatment by her father and dead fiancé is despicable and highlights the powerlessness that women had and that they truly were at the mercy of husbands, fathers and brothers. The power to choose ones own path was difficult.
The plight of these two, forced into marriage due to the way a contract was worded shows the intrangability and stupidity of the law. Being forced into the inheritance of a title and the responsibilities of that is also true to the times (we've all seen that situation in action in Downton Abbey!)
I enjoyed the plot, although I feel that the amount of time we spent entangled in Rafe's continued wooing and bedding of Serafina was way too much and came at the expense of a more developed storyline.
We are privy via the various characters to the full range of emotions; anger, sorrow, fear, rage and love.
Raphael is all that we could ask; kind, understanding, protective and loving. The rake becomes the paragon of understanding.
Serafina is wounded, frightened and with difficulty finds her voice.
I was unsure as to whether I actually liked Rafe's brother Crispin. I mellowed somewhat towards him in the final pages.
An enjoyable read but could have been so much more.
A NetGalley ARC