Fallen, Book #3
Heat Factor: Sex first, emotions later.
Character Chemistry: He lifts the weight from her shoulders, and she does the same for him.
Plot: Duke has existential crisis. Runs away. Meets lady farmer. Has sexy rumpus, realizes it’s love. And then works on her dairy farm for a year to prove himself.
Overall: I liked it, but I didn’t LOVE it.
This is an interesting book. And I know that that is *such* an anemic opening to a review, but the real strength of Catch a Falling Duke is Pendle’s exploration of legacy—what we inherit, and what we leave behind.
Hugo Ravensthorpe has recently inherited his title; he is now the Duke of Cumbria, and must set aside his profligate ways. (He’s got the power, and it’s time to settle into responsibility. Classic Duke Arc, amirite?) Except, as he’s going through his piles and piles of paperwork, he comes across evidence that his family’s wealth came from the slave trade—this is his legacy, and he is absolutely horrified.
Now I’m going to pause right quick here. Some readers might find Hugo’s reaction anachronistic, might accuse Pendle of superimposing 21st-century morals on 19th-century characters. First of all, there were absolutely anti-slavery agitators in the 19th century. How do you think slavery got abolished? And second of all, even if it is anachronistic, it’s completely valid to use fiction to grapple with real-life issues; in this case, white responses to our complicity in oppression. So. If that’s not the kind of romance you want to read, you’ve been warned.
Anyway, so Hugo is having a moment of crisis about all this blood money he has, and he just starts walking. And eventually he meets Bea, a farmer in an inn on her way to a hiring fair. After he rescues her from a lecherous lout, she propositions him, and they have some rumpus.
But Bea is also struggling with questions of legacy. She’s a childless widow, who feels unmoored on her family farm; it doesn’t help that her odious cousin (who will eventually inherit) keeps hinting that she should just give the farm to him now because he’s *family*. It also doesn’t help that she learns that her father was not actually her father. She feels some serious angst about whether she deserves the land she owns and manages as well as about who she will pass this land on to.
Hugo and Bea have a few days out of time together. They go to the hiring fair. They learn who Bea’s father was. They have fun together, in the streets and in the sheets. The first half of the book is therefore this whirlwind of attraction and flirtation and, yes, sex. Hugo proposes, because he’s smitten.
And then they have to go back to real life.
There is a marked change of pace in the second half of the book. Hugo and Bea may have had fun together, but they can’t just spend all of their time at a hiring fair, and they come from dramatically different worlds. Bea may be a wealthy farmer who employs a dozen people, but she isn’t gentry, much less a member of the ton. And Hugo is a Duke…except maybe that power and responsibility isn’t rightly his. So in the second half of the book, Hugo goes and works for Bea on her farm, and learns to stop “Duking” things (ie, just making things happen with the power of his title). We get more of a portrait of what day-to-day life could look like for these two, as they slowly work out the possibilities of what their new legacy could be together.
Did the romance make my heart go pitter-pat? Well, no.
But this book was well-written, rich in historical detail, and did give me a lot to think about. So I would read another book by this author. (And, in fact, recently bought Book #2 in the series. I’ll keep you posted!)
I voluntarily read and reviewed a complimentary copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own. We disclose this in accordance with 16 CFR §255.
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