Review: When a Duchess Says I Do by Grace Burrowes (2019)

Rogues to Riches, Book #2

Heat Factor: It’s nice and respectful

Character Chemistry: He’s the protector, she doesn’t really want protection, but she kinda needs it…

Plot: Just don’t overthink it

Overall: A comfy read

Generally speaking, I find reading Grace Burrowes to be the literary equivalent of wrapping yourself in a blanket and snuggling on the couch, and this story was just that. I was in the midst of reading a book that was making me absolutely crazy, and I realized that this book was actually scheduled to be released earlier. What a relief, to have an excuse to read something that was well constructed and coherently written.

Duncan Wentworth, the not-impoverished-but-not-outrageously-wealthy cousin of the Duke of Walden (book 1), is strolling through his estate’s woods when he comes upon some poachers behaving badly. He is rescued (although he probably doesn’t need to be rescued, but it works for his story, so we’ll go with it) by a small, fierce, starving woman prepared to shoot said poachers. He immediately deduces she’s been hiding in the abandoned gatehouse and basically insists that she accompany him home because he has to thank her for saving his life. His whole objective is rescuing a damsel in distress because he doesn’t want to be at his estate and she’s interesting, so he convinces her to work as his amanuensis so she can be safe and fed. Also, did I mention she’s interesting?

Matilda Wakefield is a lady on the run because she found herself in an impossible situation. It’s so bad she can’t tell anyone about it. She’s starving because it turns out she has absolutely no skills to keep her employed in any domestic service capacity. She does speak multiple languages and is well-traveled, so a position as Duncan’s amanuensis is well suited to her. She likes food and shelter and all those other things she hasn’t had for months while she’s been on the run, but staying puts both herself and Duncan in danger. What is this danger? From whom, exactly, is she running? Difficult to say. All of this is slowly revealed.

Duncan is an alpha hero, but he’s not bodice-ripper alpha. He’s the sort of alpha who’s so manly he doesn’t need to be possessive or make use of his fists (although he certainly could). He’s almost outrageously respectful. Won’t even kiss Matilda without explicit, verbal permission, even after they’ve started a little canoodling. He was orphaned and grew up in his vicar uncle’s home, and upon reaching adulthood, he was ordained himself. Unfortunately, as an unbendingly moral and logical individual, he struggled with the utter lack of upright behavior of his superiors and rage quit. We see this aspect of Duncan a few times, in particular when clergy do not behave in an ethical or moral way. There is also a moment early in the story, while Matilda and Duncan are still getting to know each other, that Duncan becomes enraged (but you’d only know it because his voice is slightly more clipped than usual) because the doctor, who should be relied on to help those in need, refuses to come see the estate’s black housekeeper when she falls ill. We can trust Duncan, you see, and he is smart enough and strong enough that Matilda should trust him with her secret, too. He will rescue our damsel in distress not because she’s incapable, but because we can all use a little help from our friends.

Our heroine is no wilting flower. She’s smart and proud. She doesn’t resort to theft even when she’s starving and winter is coming (at least, doesn’t resort to theft other than squatting in abandoned outbuildings on a neglected estate). She’s on the run not on her own behalf, but to save others. Naturally she is also a gently bred lady and a chess genius, so her station and wits match Duncan’s. I feel I’m not saying enough about her, but I don’t want to spoil the story. She’s a good egg.

The plot relies on Matilda’s problem being so heinous it seems not fixable. But of course, because it’s a romance, it has to be fixable. The result is…fine. It’s a bad thing…as long as it’s actually real. Does Matilda actually use her chess super powers to consider all angles? Ehhh… I’m not a huge fan of plots that rely on people making decisions without all the facts because they refuse to talk to other people, but Burrowes sets up this one pretty well, so I’ll (mostly) give it a pass. Just don’t ask yourself too many questions when you get to the end.

If you’re looking for a romance with a little adventure but not full-blown romantic suspense, a little angst but not full-blown angst, a little sex but not let-me-spell-it-out-for-you-every-twenty-pages sex, and a plot you can enjoy but might not want to examine too closely, this is a very good choice. As I said, snuggle up in a blanket.

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. We disclose this in accordance with 16 CFR §255.

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