24 February 2016

The Duchess by Jude Deveraux

Hey everyone,

Believe it or not this is actually the first novel by Jude Deveraux I’ve ever read. Considering she is a staple of the historical romance genre I was amazed that I hadn’t picked up one of her books before buying The Duchess at my local library. Read on to see what I thought of this old-school historical romance!

The book:

Jude Deveraux captures the thrill of an American beauty's Highlands wedding, where a royal title is at stake -- and where love wins the day.

Claire Willoughby risked losing millions in her inheritance if, as decreed by her grandfather, she did not wed an "acceptable" man. Harry Montgomery, the eleventh Duke of MacArran, seemed perfect. He owned a historic castle, he looked manly in a kilt, and he was as much a titled Scotsman as Bonnie Prince Charlie himself.

Their engagement announced, Claire's future as a duchess was assured -- and she set off with her family to meet the Montgomery clan in Scotland. Bramley Castle was a damp, chill place, overfowing with eccentric relatives. But there was also Trevelyan, a secretive, brooding man who lived in Bramley's ancient halls. Whoever he was, he wasn't at all like Harry: Trevelyan was the most exasperating, arrogant, know-it-all of a man Claire had ever met. And the most fascinating...

My thoughts:

It’s been a while since I’ve read a classic of the historical romance genre, and although The Duchess was published in 1992 (so no issues of consent thankfully), it definitely had the feel and tone of a classic historical romance. This mostly came across in the problematic depictions of foreign cultures and yet I really enjoyed reading this book despite all that. I loved that knowledge and learning was such a huge part of the heroes and heroines personality. It was the bedrock for their friendship and academic study (and everything surrounding it) is an important plot point for The Duchess.

For the most part people do not like to learn. They like to know and they like to tell others what they know, but they do not like the process of learning

Our hero Trevelyan is a brooding, mysterious and highly intelligent person; he sort of reminded me of the beast in Beauty and the Beast. Especially as he spent most of his time isolated (by choice) in his tower. Claire in contrast is naive, romantic, idealistic, yet also intelligent and interested in the world around her. She is obsessed with Scotland and Scottish history and in part falls in love with her finance because he is Scottish. When Trevelyan and Claire first meet it doesn’t exactly go well. She mistakes him for an elderly gentleman. But as the weirdness of her finance’s house, and the irritation with her future mother-in-law grows, it is Trevelyan she turns to.

She takes away the loneliness. When I’m with her I’m not lonely.

The chemistry between them is almost instantaneous and yet Clarie does try to remain faithful to her finance. I don’t really want to say more without ruining the plot. As the secrets that where slowly revealed to Claire and the reader were part of the reason I enjoyed reading The Duchess. Of course these twists and turns are completely ridiculous but still highly entertaining. I also liked the slow-burn nature of Claire and Trevelyan romance. They got to know one another and saw past the superficial fronts they had presented to the world. Throughout the course of The Duchess their love is challenged and they have to learn to love, accept and trust.

“You love her,” Nyssa whispered, and there was wonder in her voice. She had tried to make Captain Baker love her, but she’d had no success. “You are in love with her." 

The Duchess is also a novel with a parade of secondary characters, some who play a large part in the overall plot and others who make amusing cameo appearances. As am fairly sure The Duchess is part of a much larger series that focuses on the Montgomery family throughout the ages I did wonder if some of these characters would return with books of their own. Alas it seemed unlikely as all their story lines where neatly wrapped up in the final chapter. I’m also not sure how widely available this book still is, because as I mentioned I brought this at my local library. If you do see this book somewhere I would recommend you pick it up and settle in for an enjoyable and slightly wild ride in Regency Scotland!

My rating:
Happy reading and see you next time!