Bringing Down The Duke

Evie Dunmore
Bringing Down The Duke
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Release Date
September 2019
Book 1 of A League of Extraordinary Women
Historical Romance

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....

Book Review by Pip (reviewer)
Sep 04, 2019   [ OFFICIAL REVIEW ]
39 people found the following review helpful
Feels like a 3.5-star read to me.

Now that aside, reading about fictional, historical women ahead of their time should well resonate with those living in this century, as far removed as we are from them, simply because the issue of equality among the sexes is still a highly contested one despite the leaps we've made.

Despite the levity of the cover, Evie Dunmore's debut historical is rather compelling, with all the peaks and troughs of the historical romances that I turn to from time to time. There's some sensitivity to the social and cultural constraints of the time and Ms. Dunmore shows that awareness in her prose and her protagonists' behaviour--where they should step or not--while piling on the rising heat between a vicar's daughter studying at Oxford and a blue-blooded, pedigreed duke who has the ear of the Queen.

Anchoring her story straight in the middle of a time where bluestockinged women were petitioning for their right to vote--a fundamental right so many take for granted these days--in Victorian England is sly and smart, as Ms. Dunmore weaves the politics of the day quite deftly with ideas of social standing, fidelity and the transactional nature of marriage in two protagonists who lie on the opposite ends of the ladder.

The slow burn between Annabelle Archer and Sebastian Montgomery is a believable one, more so because Ms. Dunmore writes Annabelle as a character who one easily empathised with: as one who wants more, who yearns to bridge the chasm that gapes between her and her duke, but can't. My only let down was her own hand-wringing, her lack of conviction and her dismally cowardly behaviour towards the end in a supposedly self-sacrificing cruel move--cruel to be kind so to speak, and a stupid action--where it was left all to Sebastian to do the hard work and climb the mountain while she did nothing to fight for what she really wanted. Ironic, considering the passion she had for the suffragist movement.

If I thought Sebastian impenetrable and difficult to grasp, Ms. Dunmore's rushed stripping away of his defenses towards the end of the book made him a different romantic protagonist I wanted to get behind--one who almost deserved better than what Annabelle did to him.

These grumbles aside, Ms. Dunmore's rather impressive debut is making me sit up and take note. It's well-written, well thought-out and engaging. For someone with hands and feet firmly in contemporary romance, this is quite a feat.
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Book Review by Ashia (reviewer)
Sep 22, 2019   [ OFFICIAL REVIEW ]
40 people found the following review helpful
Historical romances I read lately tend to blend into one another, even ones by favorite authors. Hence, reading BRINGING DOWN THE DUKE is a refreshing change, and this can be attributed to the author's engaging writing style and beautiful prose. The setting--Victorian England and the time when the suffragist movement was just starting--is also a new one, making everything all the more interesting.

Sebastian, the hero duke, contributed in large part. A hero so powerful and out of reach of a commoner like Annabelle. A master strategist and clever politician at court. So unattainable--a great part of his lure. Yet, what I like most about him is his constancy. You have to admire Annabelle for being a pioneer of her generation, for being one of the women to fight for her rights as a person. Surely, that women were seen as inferior is something that could only be instigated by men. Yet, I find myself wondering why is it that women themselves put down other women. Case in point: Queen Victoria and another woman whom I don't remember. Such is happening sadly up to this day.

BRINGING DOWN THE DUKE is captivating and I'm looking forward to reading the next book in the series. Hope to see more of Sebastian and Annabelle. For a debut book, this one is magnificent. Be sure to pick up a copy.
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