The Hazards of Hunting a Duke Mass Market Paperback – Jun 1 2006
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After their mother's untimely death, Ava Fairchild, her sister Phoebe, and their cousin Greer discover their family's fortune is now under the control of their penny-pinching stepfather, Lord Downey. To avoid Downey's plan to marry them off to the first suitors who show up, Ava decides to find her own husband. Fortunately, Ava has already met the perfect candidate: Jared Broderick, the Marquis of Middleton. Tired of being pressed by his father to abandon his rakish ways and marry a respectable woman, Jared realizes that marrying Ava offers the perfect solution to his problems. What Jared gets, however, is a wife who isn't about to accept a mere marriage of convenience but rather a woman who will settle for nothing less than a marriage based on love. The first in a new series by the exceptionally entertaining London, this romance is another of her delectable combinations of superbly crafted characters, graceful writing, and sinfully sexy romance. John Charles
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
"London's characters...will steal your heart."
-- Atlanta Journal-Constitution
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This book grinded me for several reasons and I'm not just picking on London here, but every author who does it. Two people marry for convenience and then one day, the woman decides she wants more out of her marriage and she starts to pout and whine because he can't give her more for one ridiculous reason or another. They become estranged and then poof, one day he wakes up, gets hit with a brick and realizes that yes, he does love her. Then everything is fixed and good thing, because she's usually pregnant.
Another thing that I'm tired of seeing is the total lack of communication between husband and wife. If my husband saw me come out of the woods with another man (a little role reversal, but the same idea)whom he suspected I was having an affair with and I really wasn't, I would say a little more than, "I'm sorry." It only made Jared look more guilty and gave his wife yet another reason to sulk. Why didn't he explain to her what really happened??? Why is there always such a frustrating lack of communication between the hero and heroine? Why can't they just be honest and forthright with each other so that we're not left skimming through the several pages of 'she couldn't live like this' and 'he couldn't live like this' before they FINALLY decide to really talk to each other?
Ava set out to find herself a husband with a prestigious title and a few bucks in his pocket. Jared set out to find himself a wife who would not repulse him in bed. I would say he would have a bigger axe to grind with the gold digger than her with him but it didn't play out that way. We were to believe that she was the wronged one and, as usual, it's the guy who's brought to his knees.
It's not a boring read but I did tire of all the sulking going on. And just because I wasn't as impressed with this book as I've been with some of London's others doesn't mean I won't read her forthcoming books. I always look forward to another of her works in print.
Ava and her sister Phoebe discover, after their mother's death, that their stepfather will not give them any money - they merely have their small dowries left. Therefore they need to get some money in order to continue to live acceptably and to provide employment for the various people that they have helped (Ava's lady's maid is a former prostitute, the butler is another lame duck, etc).
Of course Ava hits on the plan of marrying the Marquis of Middleton to solve their problems and, spookily, he hits on the plan of marrying Ava to shut his father up. So they marry. After a successful wedding night they become estranged, the reason being that Ava wants his love and thinks he's still seeing his mistress. Jared believes he can't love, it's not within him, so keeps away from his wife - apart from telling her he needs an heir.
It's often said that authors should "show, not tell" what's going on in their characters' lives. This is a very true adage in respect to this book - Julia London TELLS us all the time what people are feeling but we can't really sense/detect this from their behaviour. It's pretty tricky to understand why Jared likes Ava and puts up with her being pretty annoying. And why he just doesn't tell her outright he's not still keeping a mistress - the Big Misunderstanding doesn't work properly when it could so easily be discussed. There's a side plot about an illegitimate son and Ava's cousin travelling in Wales to visit her family (which is no doubt a set up for another book) but I found this book generally pretty dull, I often put it down with boredom and it didn't even have any interesting historical vignettes to keep me interested. As always, the American author included some Americanisms in grammar and speech - and the most notable of these, for me, is the choice of names; I don't think that either Jared or Ava were names commonly used in the Regency. Jared, being a biblical name, might just have turned up - Ava is a German name which I believe first started occurring at the end of the 19th century, so would not have been in this historical/geographical timeframe. What does this say about the author's research?
If you just want basic escapist reading with a dishy leading man and a beautiful heroine then you might like this book. If you want an interesting, in-depth and worthwhile Regency then read Georgette Heyer or Laura Kinsale's "Flowers From The Storm" and leave this book alone.
Jared is sick of hearing his father, the current Duke of Redford, harp on about settling down and begetting an heir. To shut him up, Jared chooses Ava. Of course, his father is not happy since he had another lady in mind. After all, Ava has no money at all to bring. Yet Jared does not care. Their marriage would be one of convenience. She would give him an heir and stay out of his life otherwise. In return, he would care for her, her sister, and her cousin.
However, Ava soon decides that she does not want a marriage of convenience, she wants passion. So now Ava is out to win her husband's heart, with a bit of help from her unusual maid (former lady of the night).
***** Author, Julia London, takes a realistic situation of the time and turns it into a wonderful romance that will bring a blush to your cheeks and warmth to your heart. Since Ava's maid is a former lady of the night, the bedroom scenes are very steamy. Ava is a very strong heroine that will do anything to help the ones she loves. Her strength and determination is a wonder to behold. The whole plot sounds so simple, yet I found myself unable to put the book down for even the shortest of time. I never got bored or wanted to strangle one of the main characters. No sappy people, well written, and downright enthralling. Highly recommended! *****
Reviewed by Detra Fitch of Huntress Reviews.