Review: The Once and Future Duchess

Title: The Once and Future Duchess (Royal Entourage #4) 17333897

Author: Sophia Nash

Rating: ★★1/2

Provided Synopsis: In theory, the Duke of Candover is the most eligible peer in the realm. But in truth, he has a deep aversion to the merest hint of marriage, not to mention two botched engagements which have marked his jaded soul. Now, after a debauched bachelor party that causes public outcry, the Prince Regent is demanding that it’s Candover’s turn to be brought to heel. And Prinny secretly believes that Isabelle Tremont, the Duchess of March, is precisely the lady up to the challenge.

Isabelle must marry, but a day of reckoning with the man she’s loved for years is her greatest fear. If Candover insists she’s too young and innocent for a seasoned world-weary man like him, there’s no shortage of other candidates. Gentlemen of prestige and position. Gentlemen whose attentions are driving Candover to jealous distraction. Yet one abandoned moment under the stars hints that if they can put aside pride and duty, then a love once denied might just be their destiny.

Review: Isabelle, the Duchess of March, has been in love with James, the Duke of Candover, since she was fourteen years old. Now in her eighteenth year and a duchess in her own right, she sets out to ask for the hand of her friend and confidant only to be rebuffed by his sense of duty and the promise he made to her father on his death bed. James is too old to marry Isabelle, James is too reserved to marry Isabelle; the excuses for not accepting the love he had developed for her over the years is as long as the list the Prince Regent gives James of potential wives should he not marry otherwise. You know this book will end in a happily ever after, because they all do, but even I became exasperated with how many ways the hero could convince himself that he could not marry his love.

Within this story there was also another love complication between the Duke of Sussex and Amelia Primrose, who is the chaperone of Isabelle’s fourteen-year-old cousin. Miscommunication and secrets dictated this storyline, and when it fed over into the relationship between Isabelle and James it made for even more complications. I’m not sure this story needed to have as many complications as it did; in fact, I think I would have enjoyed it a lot more had things been streamlined. Bottom line is that I really enjoyed Isabelle as a heroine — I only wish she had been given a different sort of storyline that could have maintained my interest. This is not the best of the historical romance genre, but it is decent and I hope it will be enjoyed a great deal more by those readers who have followed this series since the beginning (I am not one of those people).

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