I received a complimentary ARC of this book via Netgalley but all opinions provided are my own.
I hate feeling like I’m not liked, and that self-consciousness often makes me try harder, which makes me resent myself for feeling like I have to try when the little article in the back of Glamour says that by this age I shouldn’t care what people think…
That horror show was just a glimpse into my occasional thought process. I know a lot of women who feel like they need to always be liked—like there’s something wrong with them if they aren’t—and that’s why it’s sometimes such a relief to read a heroine whose number of GAF’s is severely limited.
Freya Stewart de Moray of Elizabeth Hoyt’s Not the Duke’s Darling is on a quest. She’s a spy for a group of women known as the Wise Women, ancient protectors of women in Scotland and England. Her current spy job is finding out what leverage they can wield against Lord Randolph, a man championing a revised Witch Act which will target women like the Wise Women.
Freya has no time for bitter enemies, including Christopher Renshaw, the Duke of Harlowe, whom she considers responsible for the tragedies in her family. Or the blasted attraction she feels for him, despite everything. Or for the other ghosts of her past, including her childhood best friend, Messalina. Etc. Etc.
Christopher refers to Freya’s “prickliness,” and that seems as good a word as any other. She’s also brave and smart and (eventually) willing to admit her mistakes, and that growth on both lead’s part was something I loved about this book. It’s about what they can let go of and what they can grab onto, and Hoyt writes their redemption arcs swimmingly.
Also? Hoyt takes passion to another level in her books, and this one is earthy and cheek-flushing in the best of ways. Trust me on this: there’s nothing polite about how she writes sex scenes, even if it is 1760 England at a fancy house party.
Not the Duke’s Darling has the grit and sensuality that I’ve come to associate with Hoyt’s work. It also has the female empowerment that I crave; there’s no way in hell that Freya will settle for anything, and that just might include marriage to Christopher (TBD. Read the book).
This historical has the octopus-like feel of a book setting up the rest of the series: there were a lot of characters & storylines here, but I have high hopes that the mysteries beginning to percolate in my head will be solved soon. Please God.
Not the Duke’s Darling is another really great Hoyt historical, and another reminder that I need to read everything in her catalog.
4 out of 5 stars.
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