For whatever weird reason, I’m extremely uncomfortable with historical romance featuring a female MC who has been already ruined, been a figure of scandal, and is somehow supposed to still get a happily-ever-after with a member of the aristocracy. It’s a really massive obstacle to overcome in HR, and I’ve read a number of them that were basically, “we love each other and we don’t really want to be in London, so society be damned.” Which, sure, but still left me vaguely unsatisfied because I want my female MCs to triumph at the end.
Here’s the great thing about Ivory in Duke of My Heart, yes she’s an opera singer, yes she married a duke and was never properly received, but Bowen makes this her backstory, and the reason why she gets to invisibly glide through society now, handling scandals for other people. Everything about the premise worked for me. Ivory is talented, smart as hell, and totally running her life on her own terms. And she continues to do so, handling cut-throats and aristocrats with equal aplomb.
Maximus was a good male love interest. He ticked all the boxes for me, but the real fun was watching Ivory manage him. Seriously, I cannot rave enough about her. Duke of My Heart is smart, sexy, witty and a one-sitting read.
If you haven’t checked out Kelly Bowen’s work and you love historical romance, then you need to start reading her.