Book Review: A Lady for a Duke
A Lady for a Duke by Alexis Hall available May 24, 2022
Lady Viola has returned home, presumed dead on the battlefield, under a new name. She has surrendered everything she had to live her true life and is now a companion to her sister-in-law in the house that used to be hers. She’s struggling to learn how to be a woman, how to be herself.
When she learns her lifelong friend the Duke of Gracewood has turned to laudanum and his younger sister is isolated and lonely, Viola and her sister-in-law visit them. Viola is terrified of both being recognized and being rejected.
Gracewood, a disabled war veteran with PTSD, is devastated by the death is his friend. He believes that he left his best friend to die at Waterloo and could never even bring his body home and has never recovered, sinking further into despair and laudanum.
“But you’ve already sacrificed so much. Title, lands, wealth, most of your rights, and the ability to be lauded for accomplishments other than needlepoint.”
I was hooked on page one and by the the end of the first few chapters I was desperate for Gracewood to realize his friend wasn’t dead. Viola is one of the bravest and sweetest characters I’ve ever read. Gracewood’s capacity for growth and his devotion were swoon worthy.
It’s nice to see a regency with honest conversations and swearing and sex. Too many historicals focus on creating an idealized version of how they think people spoke and acted in the past while forgetting that people were still people. The supporting characters were well drawn. Lady Marleigh is a force to be reckoned with and everyone needs a champion like her in their corner, even if they don’t appreciate her. Lady Miranda was adorably naive and earnest.
The heroine is a transgender woman and the hero a cis man and both are heterosexual. The story takes place in a highly gendered society but Viola’s identity is a part of the story but not central to the conflict. I would love for regency romance readers to simply pick up this book and enjoy it.
The dialogue is excellent, quick and clever when it had to be, believable when it was sincere. The writing was evocative and everyone’s feelings, even the painful ones, were beautifully expressed. There is so much heart-wrenching yearning in this book. Not just for love, but also for forgiveness, for identity, for belonging, for friendship. I devoured it.
4.5 stars. I received an ARC from NetGalley
Have you read this one? Does it pique your interest?