Book Review: Last Night with the Duke by Amelia Grey

Title: Last Night with the Duke (Rakes of St. James #1)
Authors: Amelia Grey
Reviewer: Ivy @PoisonIvy70
Genre: Historical Romance
Rating: 3 stars

Could finding love be his greatest scandal of all?

The Duke of Griffin has never lived down his reputation as one of the Rakes of St. James. Now rumors are swirling that his twin sisters may bear the brunt of his past follies. Hiring a competent chaperone is the only thing Griffin has on his mind–until he meets the lovely and intriguing Miss Esmeralda Swift. In ways he could never have expected, she arouses more than just his curiosity.

Esmeralda Swift considered herself too sensible to ever fall for a scoundrel, but that was before she met the irresistibly seductive Duke of Griffin. His employment offer proves too tempting for her to resist. She can’t afford to be distracted by his devilish charms because the stakes are so high for his sisters’ debut Season. . .unless one of London’s most notorious rakes has had a change of heart and is ready to make Esmeralda his bride?

-I needed a historical in my life and this series is just starting so I dove in. Last Night with the Duke is a mixed bag of goodies, so let’s dive in.

-The setup. The Duke of Griffin is a couple of centuries away from being considered a sexual harrasser, but as a Duke (one among many, it seems) he is used to getting what he wants. He is trying to live down his rakish reputation (aren’t they all?) and he is unexpectedly in charge of his twin sisters’ Season, since his aunt is ill and unable to accompany them. He decides, on the spur of the moment, to enter Miss Mamie Fortescue’s Employment Agency. To hire a companion for his sisters. Let’s take a moment. A duke, the highest titled gentleman in the land, decides to hire a companion. *blinks* It stretches credibility like taffy, but hey, it’s a romance and yes it happens.

-Esmeralda is a sympathetic heroine. Her concerns for her sister and the agency that she’s trying desperately to keep afloat are all compelling reasons to like her and while they fed into my feelings that this wasn’t quite historical (more on that later), it kept me engaged with her.

-Griffin’s pushy but likeable. Griffin is taken with Esmeralda within moments of hearing her voice and seeing her counsel one of her governesses. The beginning of the book focuses almost too much on his insta-attraction to her and to be fair, her attraction to him. He is intrigued and attracted and I did end up liking him, especially his attraction to Esmeralda. About the only thing I didn’t love were the scenes when he was thinking about the need to settle down with a “proper” lady. It wasn’t the biggest of turn-ons for me, to be honest, even if it makes sense within the time period. It’s about the only thing that does make sense.

-Might have worked better as contemporary than historical. If you switch the setting to this century and make Griffin a billionaire rather than a duke, I think it would actually make more sense ( and I ended up doing that in my head more often than not). The attitude of Esmeralda, her employment situation, the insta-love,the multitude of dukes, and his single minded pursuit of Esmeralda would be a better fit for a contemporary billionaire romance. Perhaps the lens I viewed the story through was the reason I found myself enjoying it, even though I thought, as a historical, it didn’t quite hit the mark.

-Slow start, fast finish. Pacing was another issue with the story. The quality of the writing aside, it felt like it a bit too long to get to the heart of the matter, and then the wrap up came at the reader at warp speed.

I liked it, even if I thought it was a bit unbelievable as a historical and the pacing was off. Since it is the first book in the series, I do have hopes for the series to improve with the next one. If you like a historical setting with a bit more of a contemporary vibe, you may enjoy this.

– Ivy

*An ARC was received for an honest review.

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