Thursday, August 22, 2019

Bringing Down the Duke
(A League of Extraordinary Women, #1)
by Evie Dunmore

Synopsis (via Goodreads): A stunning debut for author Evie Dunmore and her Oxford Rebels, in which a fiercely independent vicar's daughter takes on a duke in a fiery love story that threatens to upend the British social order.

England, 1879. Annabelle Archer, the brilliant but destitute daughter of a country vicar, has earned herself a place among the first cohort of female students at the renowned University of Oxford. In return for her scholarship, she must support the rising women's suffrage movement. Her charge: recruit men of influence to champion their cause. Her target: Sebastian Devereux, the cold and calculating Duke of Montgomery who steers Britain's politics at the Queen's command. Her challenge: not to give in to the powerful attraction she can't deny for the man who opposes everything she stands for.

Sebastian is appalled to find a suffragist squad has infiltrated his ducal home, but the real threat is his impossible feelings for green-eyed beauty Annabelle. He is looking for a wife of equal standing to secure the legacy he has worked so hard to rebuild, not an outspoken commoner who could never be his duchess. But he wouldn't be the greatest strategist of the Kingdom if he couldn't claim this alluring bluestocking without the promise of a ring...or could he?

Locked in a battle with rising passion and a will matching her own, Annabelle will learn just what it takes to topple a duke....

"He spun her round and she was pinned flush against the door, trapped between oak wood and one incensed aristocrat. Out of the two, the oak would yield more easily."
I received a review copy from Penguin's First To Read program in exchange for an honest review. My thoughts and opinions are my own. Any quotes I use are from an unpublished copy and may not reflect the finished product.

I don't typically read historical romance, but I am so very glad I took a chance on Evie Dunmore's Bringing Down the Duke. I loved every second of this book, and never wanted to stop turning the pages! I enjoyed the setting (even if I wanted to smack some misogynistic men around), and liked that the author was true to the time period while also touching on the women's suffrage movement. It's always eye-opening to see woman from an earlier time period fighting to obtain the same rights as men, and it astounds me that similar battles are still being fought today. I think that's why I usually avoid historical romance, because the time period itself makes me angry. Women were essentially property, and were only as important as the men they married. Grr!

Annabelle was an amazing character. She's intelligent, driven, and desires more from her life than what's expected of her. She doesn't want to raise her cousin's children, or take care of his house, and she certainly doesn't want to be married off for convenience, which is why Annabelle decides to trick her cousin into allowing her to pursue a higher education. He doesn't know who or what is offering Annabelle a scholarship, only that he believes her going there will somehow benefit him in the future. It's insane how Annabelle had to manipulate the situation just to attend a college and further her desire for more knowledge. Additionally, she had to work twice as hard to keep her spot at the school. She needed to study for her own classes, while also tutoring others so she send money home to her cousin (for her supposed replacement at the house, ugh). 

Sebastian was an irritating character. I couldn't decide if I wanted Annabelle to strangle him or rip all of his clothes off. One minute he's condescending to her, or mentally referring to her as a wench, and the next he's appreciating her intellect and determination. He likes Annabelle, but society dictates he marries someone more important (insert eyeroll here). I really enjoyed how complex Sebastian's character was, and I liked his relationship with his brother. He's torn between trying to set a good example, like a parent, and being present as a sibling. It causes a lot of conflict, but I thought their relationship was realistic and relatable.  

All of the women attending the college, and those involved in the woman's suffrage movement, were wonderful. The author incudes women from different stations in life, and also how their induvial choices have shaped where they are today. They were good friends to Annabelle, despite her unfortunate circumstances (insert another eyeroll here). They treat her as an equal because they like who she is as a person. It's also the right thing to do as a general life rule.

I thoroughly enjoyed Bringing Down the Duke, and the slow-burn romance was well worth the wait. Especially the scene at the end... the one where she describes him coming out of the water... phew. Evie Dunmore knows how to make you tingle down to the tips of your toes! It was hot. I recommend this book whether you're a fan of historical romance or not, because this story was fantastic from the very first page.

16 comments:

  1. This one sounds so good! Sebastiรกn does sound like a complex character. I'm glad you enjoyed this!
    Genesis @ Whispering Chapters

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    1. It was an amazing read!! Sebastian was wonderfully complex and compassionate. He wanted to save and rebuild his family's legacy, be a good brother, and do what was required of a Duke. Unfortunately for him (and lucky for us), his heart was bigger than he expected it to be, and Annabelle really changed how he viewed certain aspects of his life. Loved it all!

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  2. I don't read Historical Romance either, but I've been having the inkling lately. This sounds like a good one to dive into.

    Glad you enjoyed it!

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    1. It is!! I hope you have a chance to read it soon, because I want to talk about it with someone else. <3

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  3. This sounds like such a fun one! And Annabelle sounds like a pretty remarkable character. It’s been ages since I read a historical romance but this seems like an easy one to enjoy.

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    1. It was so much fun, Tanya!! I think you'd really love this one. <3

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  4. I don't read much historical romance these days either but this does sound good.

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    1. Historical romance has never been my preferred genre, but I'm so happy I read this one! The time period is frustrating, haha. I like that the characters in this book didn't agree with the rules of society, and were fighting for something better.

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  5. This sounds like a really unique historical romance, it has so much depth! I love that Annabelle is attending college and involved in the suffrage movement.

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    1. I couldn't believe this was Dunmore's debut! It's fantastic! The characters are clever, the story is refreshing, and I enjoyed every second of it. I particularly liked the focus on the woman's suffrage movement. For some reason, it made me think of Mrs. Banks in Mary Poppins.

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  6. I enjoy HR but only when no one is following the customs of the time lol

    Karen @ For What It's Worth

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    1. Annabelle and Sebastian break a lot rules! ;)

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  7. I was put off this one by its title which felt too Mills and Boon-y for me. However, from your great review, I think I have misjudged the story. This does look like a novel I would enjoy :-)

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    1. Annabelle doesn't really "bring down the Duke," but it was fun watching their interactions! He obviously holds a higher station, but he cannot help his attraction to her. She's smart and doesn't put up with misogynistic bullshit. Sebastian tries to help her without looking like he's helping her, and I really enjoyed their dance throughout the book. I think you should try it and let me know what you think!

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  8. Just pre-ordered this thanks to your review! I'd heard of it but kind of went "meh." Your review made it much more interesting!

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    1. Yay! I hope you love it as much as I did! You'll have to let me know. :)

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