Bringing Down the Duke
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…
This book is so fun and swoony and just UGH – so good! Though I seem to have a penchant for picking up books lately that deal heavily with emotional abuse… o.O Set in the Victorian era with a focus on the Women’s Suffrage Movement, this book both made me laugh and broke my heart. The class difference between Annabelle and Sebastian makes this something of a star-crossed lovers story, which also starts out in a very enemies-to-lovers sort of way, and it’s just glorious.
I did NOT love the little interludes between Sebastian and the Queen. I don’t know, just something about having real characters, especially royalty, in my hist-rom just sort of breaks the illusion for me. I start thinking about whether Queen Victoria would have said something like that, acted like that, etc. Also, I wish Annabelle had been a bit more involved with the suffragists’ cause, rather than just being obligated to go to their meetings and rally and whatnot because it was part of the terms of her scholarship. I assume she wrote some sort of essay applying for said scholarship implying that she supported their movement, and while she went along with it she clearly wasn’t as gung-ho about it as some of the others.
I love the dynamic between Annabelle and Sebastian. They sort of immediately assume the worst about each other and are like a couple of hissing cats, and it’s just GREAT. Especially when misunderstandings are cleared up and apologies are required. This is a slowwww burn with lots of sparks, and I love it. And then there are these glorious angsty moments when they’re each trying to find a way to be together when they live in such disparate worlds, and I am just MELT.
Bringing Down the Duke is the first in the A League of Extraordinary Women series, and I am really looking forward to reading more from Evie Dunmore!