I had high hopes for this book because it had so many great reviews, but unfortunately I really ended up hating it. Firstly, as some others mentioned, it was very slow in many places...way too much card playing and going for walks,(although I did laugh out loud at the goose scene). This alone would not make me dislike the book however, what I really didn't enjoy was the story itself and the main characters. Now I fully admit that this might just be due to my own personal preference in regards to what kind of hero/heroine I prefer in these kind of historical romances, but that's why I'm writing this, in case anyone might share my preferences and know to steer clear.
First a bit of setting up:
So Genevieve is your typical young, beautiful, innocent, virgin from a wealthy family...all good there. But the author immediately threw me off by making her madly in love with someone who we know is not the hero. The man she loves is not someone she barely knows, or has only met at a few dances or something, but rather a childhood friend that she has been wildly in love with for years! And this man is not flawed to the point that we know she would be better off with someone else, but rather he's funny, charming, intelligent, and shares her interests and passion for art. They seem like they'd make a wonderful couple actually, and Genevieve truly believes that he returns her feelings. So when he tells her that he is planning to ask their other mutual best friend to marry him instead, naturally she is completely shocked and heartbroken. Like, spends days crying over the lost love of her life, will never love again heartbroken. Plus this all happens during a house party where this man she loves (I think his name was Harry), their friend he intends to propose to, and many other guests are staying in her family's house for a few weeks, so she has to see them together everyday and pretend that she is happy for him. So at the start of the book not only is she already in love but also in extreme pain, and so at this point I'm wondering how the author can possibly turn this into a romantic setting.
In comes the Duke who also decides to stay with her family for the duration of the party, with the intention of seducing Genevieve and then leaving her as a form of revenge to her brother. She pretty quickly figures out his plan though, and basically says hell no to that. But he has figured out from observing her that she heartbroken over Harry, so instead he tells her that he will pretend to be courting her to make Harry jealous so she can thereby win him back, while still making the brother squirm too. She agrees to this.
And this finally gets us to the stuff I really didn't like. Firstly, the duke is old enough to be her father. I tried to forget this while reading but it's pointed out many times throughout the book. In fact the Duke had a son who, if he had survived would have been Genevieve's age. And because of his age he has some stamina issues. While I know this sort of thing happened all the time back then, it's just not what I prefer to be in my fiction.
So during a conversation while the pretend courting is going on, the old Duke basically tells her that he has had lots of experience with whores, and makes a few other inappropriate comments. Instead of being put off by this, Genevieve is only amused and interested. Huh?
And THEN after a few more inappropriate conversations in which the old Duke basically tries to convince her to have sex with him, not because they have any feelings for each other but rather just for the pleasure of it, she agrees to do just that. That's right...our innocent virginal heroine, without much internal conflict or wrestling with scruples, begins to invite the old Duke into her bed every night to have casual sex, all the while still actively plotting and scheming during the day to win back the love of her life Harry. Um, WHAT!?! Pretty slutty there Genevieve.
There's more about this book that I didn't like, but I'll stop here because this review is already so long and I think you get the idea. I apologize if I offended anyone who likes this book, like I said it's just my personal preference and I just hope to help any of those who might share it! :)