Alexis Hall's A LADY FOR A DUKE - Historical Romance with a Twist
by Ashley Dickson-Ellison (@teachingtheapocalypse)
Alexis Hall's A Lady for a Duke (Bookshop.org | Libro.fm)
Longtime listeners to the podcast may remember how much I (Ashley) loved Alexis Hall's Boyfriend Material. (Check out my review of that one here.) I am eagerly anticipating reading Husband Material (Bookshop.org | Libro.fm), which just came out on Tuesday! I saw this one, Alexis Hall's A Lady for a Duke, come out in spring of 2022, and I couldn't wait to dive in! I listened to this one thanks to Libro.fm and their ALC program, and the audio was outstanding.
In this story, protagonist Viola Carroll was presumed dead at the battle of Waterloo, which led to the unlikely opportunity for her to finally live more freely as herself. But the start of her life as Viola does not come easily as she must give up her land, her title, her prestige, and every connection to her old life including her relationship with her beloved best friend, Justin de Vere, duke of Gracewood. The only people in the world who know Viola's true story are her brother and his wife, Lady Marleigh. To keep Viola with her family and secure her livelihood, they all decide to present Viola as the lady's maid to Lady Marleigh.
But Viola's anonymity does not last long as Lady Marleigh, a hilarious and lovable busybody who often inserts herself into other people's affairs, takes it upon herself (and Viola) to visit the Duke of Gracewood and his younger sister Miranda. Upon their arrival at Gracewood, it's apparent that things are going very poorly there. Gracewood himself meets them at the door with a gun and is clearly under the influence and in terrible mental shape. Viola immediately aches for Gracewood's suffering and sees the profound effects the war has had on him, but she does not yet know how to reveal her truth to him. It's decided that Lady Miranda needs a season so that she can find a suitor, and hijinks ensue as they all make their way to London to present Miranda to society. Meanwhile, feelings develop between Viola and Gracewood, but Viola does not want to do anything to cause Gracewood even more suffering. Should she reveal the truth? Does he already know? Gracewood and Viola slowly and gently find their way forward as they work to make sense of the past.
“Nobody is as they were. That is what life is.”
This powerful book covers so many important issues of identity, the pressures of society, and the ways we must find to be true to ourselves no matter the cost. Hall also addresses addiction, PTSD, and the way that powerful members of society can cruelly exploit others for their own gain. It's at once a richly told historical novel and a gorgeous love story full of romance. In addition to richly developed main characters, this book includes a delightful list of secondary characters who are fascinating, complex, and fun. I absolutely loved this one and hope there are more books to come! Five stars for me!
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