Wednesday, 29 May 2019

Love, Murder & Rogues...Oh My! | Project Duchess (ARC Review)

Historical romance novels are my kryptonite.

There is something about the historical fiction genre that is utterly captivating. I adore the witty banter, longing glances and Hallmark movie-esque moments (shout out to Regency gazebos and strolls through picturesque gardens!). Romantic connections develop under the pressure of social conventions, familial expectations, and future prospects...and become stronger for it. It's a world of contrasts - composedness and spontaneity, rules and rule-breaking, cool regard and fiery passion.

Project Duchess is an ode to your inner romantic.

Following its characters as they find love, despite the ghosts of their past, is an absolute delight. Sabrina Jeffries is an incredible wordsmith and does a brilliant job of bringing these characters to life.

A big thank you to Kensington Books and Netgalley for the chance to read and review this title. My thoughts on this TBR literary gem are below.

So without further ado...let's get into it!

Project Duchess (Duke Dynasty #1)
By Sabrina Jeffries

Genre(s): Romance, Historical, Fiction

PublisherKensington Books
Pub DateJune 25th 2019 (TBR)
Page(s): 352
Price: $19.99 (AUD - Paperback)

Rating4.8 out of 5 stars

My thoughts: Project Duchess is a historical romance creatively embellished with murder-mystery elements. It's a clever take on a rogue wooing a lady of lower status (a tale as old as time!) and the trials standing in the way of their happily ever after.

I read Project Duchess in one sitting (10pm - 1:30am) and couldn't put it down. Bea and Grey were characters who didn't simply reside statically between the pages of the book - they projected themselves through it. They were vibrant, full of personality and complex motivations. Their initial interactions were playful, even when they were at odds:
“Bea, as you may have deduced, this is my brother Grey.” 
“Half brother,” Greycourt corrected him. 
Sheridan scowled. “You just had to make the distinction, didn’t you?” 
“If I didn’t, the lady would be confused. Since you’re the heir to the Armitage dukedom, she’d be forced to wonder if I am merely much younger than I look or if I’m illegitimate. I am neither, so I thought it best to clarify.” 
“Don’t worry, sir,” Beatrice said with false sweetness. “Not all of us make assumptions without being aware of the facts.” 
“Really?” Greycourt drawled. “How unusual.”

Their connection was a steady flame that carried itself throughout the novel from start to finish. Even during dancing lessons, the chemistry between the two characters was off the charts:
'"I haven’t managed to master the French version, though. I can only do the English one.” 
“Not too many people do the French step in London anyway. But if you really want to learn, it’s not so difficult. Just let me lead you.” 
“I will do whatever you wish, Your Grace.” 
Something dangerously enticing flickered in his gaze. “Every time you offer to do whatever I wish, you tempt me, Beatrice,” he murmured. “So don’t offer unless you mean it.” 

But it wasn't just the surface-level attraction between the two that drew me in. It was their deep and abiding respect for one another. Even when he is not yet fully aware of the extent and intensity of his feelings for Bea, Grey's admiration for her is clearly evident:
'“With enough fine clothes and subtle cosmetics and a lady’s maid to dress her hair to greatest advantage, anybody can be a beauty.” He stared her down. “But only a few have beauty bred in the bone. And you, my dear lady, even in your mourning clothes, with your lovely locks simply dressed, are one of those."'

Project Duchess made me smile and it made me tear up - a rollercoaster of emotions for a thrill-ride of a read. If you love historical fiction (or want to be whisked away by a romantic duke for an hour or two!) be sure to grab yourself a copy when it is released on June 25th.

Find out more about the book & add it to your Goodreads bookshelf today!

After a moment, she murmured, “I’ve lost count of how many turns we’ve made.”

The words only half broke the spell she’d cast over him. “So have I.” Yet they kept turning.

“Are we still even dancing ‘Jenny’s Market’?” Her voice was breathy, her eyes wide (...). It mirrored his own.

“Not quite.” Lowering his mouth to within a hairbreadth of hers, he said, “I believe musicians would call this a variation upon the dance.”

He hovered there a moment to give her a chance to protest what they both knew he meant to do. Then he covered her mouth with his, exulting in how she rose to his kiss.

What do you enjoy about the historical romance genre? Will you be adding Project Duchess to your TBR?

Let me know in the comments below!

Although I was provided with a review copy by the author and/or publisher, all opinions expressed in this post are purely my own. To find out more, please visit my disclaimer page.

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