Wednesday, May 09, 2018

How to Forget a Duke by Vivienne Lorret

In How to Forget a Duke by Vivienne Lorret, Jacinda and her sisters run the Bourne Matrimonial Agency. Each sister brings her own special skills to the agency and Jacinda's talent is scoping out the right matchmate for her clients: she's a snoop. When the Duke of Rydstrom comes to the agency seeking a wife with a fortune, Jacinda is on the job and soon sneaking into his London home. Something about the Duke and his paperwork just doesn't seem right. What could he possibly be hiding? A letter tips her off and she travels to his crumbling castle in Sussex to find out.

The Duke of Rydstrom is a haunted man with a secret. He blames himself for the loss of his parents in a tragic accident at their cliffside home and wants to make amends. But, in order to do so, he must keep his secret close. In the meantime, he needs a wealthy wife to help pay for upkeep of the castle. She doesn't even need to stay with him. Can anyone break through to the duke and help mend his heart?

When Jacinda mysteriously washes up beneath the duke's cliffside home with a head wound and no memory, the duke (whose name is Crispin) has no choice but to take in the meddlesome woman until she heals. But, how can he keep his secret from her prying eyes? And, what will he do when he begins to realize he is drawn to her?

Jacinda doesn't remember anything at all. She wouldn't even know her own name, if not for the fact that she met the Duke of Rydstrom before washing up near his ancestral home. If she did, she'd know that the most important thing to bear in mind is that she should never, ever fall for a client. She's also unaware that she has discovered the duke's secret. What will happen when the duke finds out? Will her memory ever return or will she be forced to eventually return to a life that she has completely forgotten?

A little aside, before I give my rating. I very seldom read romance and probably would never touch it if I hadn't happened across a writing group in the 1990s that was associated with the Romance Writers of America. It was the only really active writers' group I could find and they were welcoming and warm, hosted a lot of wonderful speakers and held an annual workshop. Because their teaching revolved around what they read and wrote, I went through quite a lengthy romance-reading phase (although not exclusively -- I'll never be a romance addict). Everything they talked about applied to writing in general. It wasn't merely about writing for the market, although some of what they discussed was geared to the romance market.

So, I have a minor history of having gone through a years-long romance phase, finding my favorite romance genres, and then slowly peeling away from them. I now just read the occasional romance for the change of pace. When you read my rating, please remember that I am not the typical romance reader.

Recommended - While there were times I was pulled out of the story (who in their right mind would think Jacinda and Crispin appropriate names for a couple in a historical romance?), I liked Jacinda and the duke almost immediately. But, what I really loved about How to Forget a Duke was the fact that the building of the relationship was very slow and believable. A lot of romance books throw hero and heroine together and into bed too quickly for my taste. I like to actually feel like a love story could happen. Show me a little sparkling interaction, a slow revelation of the things a couple hold in common and the quirks that they find appealing in each other. Vivienne Lorret does these things beautifully with Jacinda and the duke. While the "secret" was one I guessed early on, it's meant to be obvious. So, if you guess it in the early pages, no worries. It won't ruin the reading for you. The few things I would consider anachronisms (the names and the idea of a matrimonial agency, for example) were not enough to spoil this charming story. I'll be looking forward to reading more by Vivienne Lorret, in the future.

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  1. Um, yeah. I was shocked to see this book on your blog. Doesn’t seem like your normal cup of tea. I’m glad you enjoyed it though. I used to read tons of regency romances as a teen but haven’t read too many as an adult.

    1. I read a handful of romance books in junior high and they were all the same! Man and woman are thrown together, hate each other, then gradually fall in love. Island romances were my favorites, but I just found them too predictable. So, I was kind of shocked when I joined the local romance writers group and discovered that there are tons of different types of romance, from historical and contemporary to even sci-fi. I'll defend them to my death, now. There are some fantastic romance writers out there. But, yeah, not something I read often, for sure!

  2. How funny, I used to belong to a local RWA group too! Long time ago and I was only a member for a short time but I found all their programs really interesting. I've read romance on and off throughout the years and like you, I prefer stories were the romance actually seems believable. Will have to look for this one as it sounds charming.

    1. I didn't realize that, Iliana! Yep, RWA is a terrific organization. I was pretty heavily involved. I was the coordinator for the online courses taught by various authors of the mystery/suspense subgenre, but I can't even remember what it was called, anymore. I still have printouts of quite a few of the classes. They were terrific.

      Definitely check this one out and tell me what you think. I thought the development of the relationship was very believable, although I did have some minor issues with the book, particularly historical anachronisms and a few things that weren't explained till later in the book (they made sense, once explained, but I think she was trying to be mysterious). I love her sense of humor. It's a fun story.


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