Destitute daughter of a vicar, Annabelle Archer earns a place as one of the first female students at the illustrious University of Oxford. In return for her scholarship she must join the women’s suffrage movement and try to gain the backing of a man of influence. Her target? Sebastian Devereaux, Duke of Montgomery and political advisor to the queen. Her beauty catches his eye and despite her fellowship with independent women he’s drawn to her. Can she hold him at arms length while still earning his backing of their movement? Can he convince her to become his without the promise of marriage? Evie Dunmore’s debut novel is atypical of other historical novels in that it dives into the politics of this time and the societal divide a lack of income and good background creates between a man and woman. Bringing Down the Duke was an intricate love story, but also a historical eye opener.
Despite the fluff that the word “Duke” brings to a historical romance title, this novel was anything but. The intricate love story between Sebastian and Annabelle was revealed a piece at a time and was enthralling, don’t get me wrong, but it was the history of the time and how that impacted these two characters that held my attention. I can only recall having read one other novel set during the women’s suffrage movement and as an independent woman myself (even though American), I’m very interested in how and when women’s rights were fought and granted In England. The fact that Evie Dunmore chose this time for a romance gave it a more modern feel.
Sebastian started off the novel as you would expect. Frigid Duke taking all of his responsibilities very seriously gets upended by a beautiful woman. BUT because of the setting we get to see how his thoughts change about women’s rights as Annabelle is threatened through her actions while fight for them. That makes Sebastian different than other historical romance heroes giving the story more impact. In real life a Duke couldn’t consider a woman for his wife if she wasn’t in the correct societal rank without throwing away his own livelihood and lands. Of course in romance novels there are no rules and Dukes marry whomever they want, but this novel doesn’t seem to throw away those societal rules and the Duke’s decisions propel not just the romantic side of the story but the historical plot as well.
I liked Annabelle a lot. She was smart, educated, pretty, but also had a head on her shoulders. She was no innocent and new how her actions would affect her future, but also the future of those around her. She was always thinking ahead. Her attraction to Sebastian was HUGE, but she was no ninny. She knew what it meant if she became a mistress or a wife. Her decisions were based upon real life plot lines and not romance novel plot lines. That made her so much more interesting and real!
Bringing Down the Duke is one of those novels where you pick it up not knowing what you are going to get. The only hint is from the picture on the front where the woman is seated in the saddle of the horse and the Duke is behind her when usually their placement would be in the reverse. A very subtle hint at her independence. I don’t want to give the impression that there isn’t any tension or romance between these two characters. There is plenty of food for the bodice ripping romantic! These two have heat, and their romance was riveting. Even more so because of everything that was happening that I mentioned above! Also, Annabelle’s friends in the movement were interesting and fabulous and hopefully their stories are to come in future novels in the series.
Bringing Down the Duke was everything I love in a historical romance. Riveting characters, sexual tension, and interesting details about the time they are living in. This is a novel that I can easily recommend to anyone who enjoys a great historical romance!
I received a free copy of this ARC through NetGalley for my honest review and it was honest!
Opinions from around the Blogosphere!
“Bringing Down The Duke is one of the best debut’s I have read, it is simply stunning! The character’s are beautifully written, each one sparkles with life, the story is fun and original, it is an exciting, gorgeous and mesmerising love story. Evie Dunmore captivates and enthrals the reader with her intelligent, passionate and dazzling writing.” Chicks, Rogues, and Scandals
Click this link to purchase!* Bringing Down the Duke (A League of Extraordinary Women)
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