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Book Review: A Duke Will Never Do

Updated: Jul 31, 2023

After a disastrous first season and equally abysmal follow up seasons, Jane Pemberton has declared herself a spinster much to the consternation of her family. Eschewing society’s norms, she moves into the recently vacated house of a friend and joins the Spitfire society. As a Spitfire, she can work on bettering the world and curing its ills… including one beaten and bloodied Lord Colton who she finds collapsed on her doorstep. Anthony, the Viscount Colton, is trying to escape his past, ideally in the neck of a bottle and embrace of a woman. In his past, his gambling addiction led to a terrible price and now he is wracked with guilt. Guilt which leads him into self-destructive behavior. When he awakens in Miss Pemberton’s home, he quickly realizes his attraction to her. An attraction which is inflamed when she makes a very indecent proposal…

I’ve heard a lot of good things about Darcy Burke, so when this title appeared on NetGalley, I snatched it up. It has a lot of the tropes that I like… Independent women supporting women, troubled hero, a hint of mystery, and sensual shenanigans. But I was, I don’t know, disappointed with this book. Angry.

And I’ve sat on this review for a very long time because of it.

Jane was, quite frankly, very unlikable. She did things that if she were a man would be construed as noncon or at the very least dubcon. She blackmailed the hero. She coerced him into sex multiple times. There were several instances where he told her “No” or “Stop” and she refused to listen. At one point the “No” was in relation to sex. That’s rape. It doesn’t matter if his body responds, women can rape men. And the heroine out and out did.

It was disturbing… This was made even more disturbing because she was proud of her behavior and didn’t regret it… to the point where the hero actually apologized for his reluctance to have sex with her. After he’d been beaten to a pulp, had cracked ribs, and was going through withdrawal. Because Anthony was an addict… an alcoholic and there are several times where he has intimate relations with the heroine while sloshed. Relations which the heroine pushed him into. Which is, say it again with me. RAPE.

This alone accounts for the loss of not one, not two, but three stars.

It’s really not that hard. And I’m getting heartily sick of rape showing up in my romance novels.




I also was very very very angry with the supposed happy ending of the book. It features one of my least favorite tropes ever because it removes so much consent.

Let me shove a spoiler alert on this:

So after all is said and done, we get a freaking “surprise public wedding.” Not a proposal but a full on wedding. Because putting pressure on the person in the dark is so non-con I can’t even.

Like it would drop a star or two on a book I actually liked. It’s so non-con and it’s not romantic. If you think think that public proposals are problematic, this is worse. Because not only is there an officiant there, but also the whole family/friends. We’ve been primed as humans not to want to disappoint our tribe. And turning down the marriage would be disappointing.

The fact that this book did this on top of all of the non-con sex was enough that if I’d had a physical book I would have thrown it across the room in anger

If that weren’t enough, I didn’t love how the two mysteries within the text were handled. They were introduced too late, IMO. And resolved a little too neatly. That being said, I did like Ms. Burke’s writing style and turns of phrase. I liked Anthony and wished he’d ended up with Jane’s sister and not with Jane. I even liked the Vicar. There were hints of other interesting stories and of course any story with cute kittens is awesome.

But it wasn’t enough to save it from the hideous and horrible consent issues.

And ultimately I was disappointed and angry with how this book turned out. And because of that I can only give this: One Star

If this is your jam, you can get it here.

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I received a copy of this book through NetGalley.

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