Smut Reporting, The Duke Project

Dukes and Their Moms; Or, What the Romantic Heroine Will Become in Forty Years

A few weeks ago, we talked a little bit about Dukes’ Dads, and how a duke’s relationship with his father could potentially be a source of angst, as the young duke assumes the mantle of responsibility that comes with the title.

However, while the Senior Duke may cast a long shadow, he rarely appears as a walking, talking character. The Dowager Duchess, on the other hand, frequently appears in Duke stories, ready to meddle in his love life, for good or, more commonly, for ill.

Continue reading “Dukes and Their Moms; Or, What the Romantic Heroine Will Become in Forty Years”
Smut Reporting

Why we read old books

In Internet World – especially the weird section that we inhabit called The Blogosphere – it’s all about the new. New things are **shiny** and **exciting.** And we definitely feel that! We were super excited when we got approved for our first book on NetGalley, because it meant that we got to read the new, shiny, exciting stuff too. We had made it!

Even as we jump into this world, however, we also want to keep reading and reviewing and promoting older books. And not just the truly Old School romances (so we can see how far we’ve come), even though they’re fun, but also books that were written five or ten years ago. Books that we are just now discovering at the library or at book sales, or old favorites that we just want to share with all of our delightful readers. Or even oldies that stuck with us that we want to try on again now that we’re older and wiser to see if they really were that special.

Because here’s the thing – the publishing world right now is a weird place, and some troubling trends are at work making it harder to make a living as an author. (Not that it was ever easy, let’s be real here.)

Continue reading “Why we read old books”
Smut Reporting, The Duke Project

The Devil Duke: Regency Romance’s Perfect Bad Boy

Tell me if this sounds familiar: there’s this Duke. He is dark and handsome. But he has a bad reputation. He might be called the Devil Duke (I’m thinking here of The Duke by Katherine Ashe, or Stephanie Laurens’ Devil Cynster, 6th Duke of St. Ives, who appears in every single book of hers that I’ve ever read) or the Dangerous Duke (like the titular hero of The Most Dangerous Duke in London by Madeline Hunter).

This Devil Duke probably leans into his nickname, and may even actively cultivate it. (Perhaps by reading a book on witchcraft at a party, in one particularly ridiculous example of this phenomenon.) The reasons for embracing the nickname may be a cover for other plans, or due to angst, or maybe just because it’s fun and decadent to have a really bad reputation.

Think Mr. Rochester, but classically handsome and with a title and also without a wife locked in the attic. We hope.

Continue reading “The Devil Duke: Regency Romance’s Perfect Bad Boy”
Smut Reporting, The Duke Project

The Duke Project: What’s Angst got to do with it?

Holly’s most recent review for the Duke Project was Christy Carlyle’s A Duke Changes Everything, which features the quintessential Angsty Duke. The hero hates his inheritance, hates his home, hates the memory of his family (except for his sainted and sadly departed mother – the fraught relationship between Dukes and Their Mothers is a whole separate thing, which I definitely want to talk about in the future).

But let’s drill down on the angst bit. According to Merriam-Webster, angst comes from the German for “fear” and refers to “a feeling of anxiety, apprehension, or insecurity.” “Angst” was first used this way in English in 1942, so it’s not like these angsty Georgian and Regency and Victorian Dukes would have used the word to describe themselves.

Continue reading “The Duke Project: What’s Angst got to do with it?”
Smut Reporting, The Duke Project

The Duke Project: What IS the deal with Dukes?

Discerning readers of The Smut Report may have noticed that some of Holly’s reviews mention an elusive and undefined thing called The Duke Project. Now, the time has come for The Duke Project to actually begin.

So… What is The Duke Project, exactly?

You may have noticed that there are approximately one million smut books featuring Dukes. Many of those novels have the word “Duke” in the title, so they’re easy to find even if you don’t do a deep dive into the genre. In real life, there are like 30. In Romancelandia, they are everywhere. So Holly decided to set out and try to figure out – what is the deal with dukes?

She is obviously not the first person to notice or comment on this phenomenon. Author Lorraine Heath wrote for NPR : “In modern terms, the duke is the equivalent of the movie star, seen on the big screen, bolder than life.” In a piece on the popularity Dukes for USA Today, Elizabeth Hoyt told Madeline Hunter, “He’s the alpha-est of the historical world.” Basically: Dukes are fun! They represent fantasy and escapism – you know that when your hero is a Duke, he’s wealthy, powerful and noble.

But just because they’re fun doesn’t explain the whole thing, so Holly is going to unpack what exactly makes a Duke a Duke, one characteristic at a time.


Next Time in The Duke Project: Let’s talk about angst!