I am so excited to share this book with you! I was lucky enough to get an early copy and couldn’t wait to dive in. Before I share my thoughts on the book, I get to share an excerpt so check it out and then keep scrolling to check out my review!Bringing Down the Duke by Evie Dunmore
(Twitter, Goodreads)Published by Little, Brown Book Group on September 3rd 2019
Genres: Fiction, Historical, Romance, Victorian
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....
It was a long walk past yards of empty table to reach her assigned chair. The footman pulled it back for her.
Montgomery was watching her with his neutral aristo expression. A diamond pin glinted equally impenetrable against the smooth black silk of his cravat.
“I trust it was not something in your room that had you rising this early?” he asked.
“The room is excellent, Your Grace. I simply don’t find it that early in the day.”
That sparked some interest in his eyes. “Indeed, it isn’t.”
Unlike her, he probably hadn’t had to be trained to rise before dawn. He probably enjoyed such a thing.
He hadn’t yet put his gloves on. His bare hands were resting idly on the polished table surface. Elegant hands, with long, elegant fingers. They could have belonged to a man who mastered a classical instrument. On his left pinky, the dark blue sapphire on the ducal signet ring swallowed the light like a tiny ocean
The footman leaned over her shoulder. “Would you like tea or coffee, miss?”
“Tea, please,” she said, mindful not to thank him, because one did not say thank you to staff in such a house. He proceeded to ask whether she wanted him to put a plate together for her, and because it would have been awkward to get up again right after sitting down, she said yes. In truth, she wasn’t hungry. The maid must have laced in her in more tightly than she was accustomed.
Montgomery appeared to have long finished eating. Next to his stack of newspapers was an empty cup. Just why had he ordered her to sit next to him? He had been immersed in his read. But she knew now that he was a dutiful man. Being polite was probably as much a duty to him as riding out into the cold to save a willful houseguest from herself. She would have to make a note on his profile sheet, very polite. As long as he didn’t mistake one for a social climbing tart, of course.
“You are one of Lady Tedbury’s political activists,” he said.
Her throat was instantly dry as dust.
“Yes, Your Grace.”
She could sense interest in him, genuine interest.
Cold sweat broke over her back. She had the ear of their greatest opponent, and the headache was jumbling her thoughts.
“I’m a woman,” she said. “It is only natural for me to believe in women’s rights.”
Montgomery gave a surprisingly Gallic, one-shouldered shrug. “Plenty of women don’t believe in this kind of women’s rights. And whether the 1870 Property Act is amended or not will not make a difference for you personally.”
There it was again, the arrogance. Of course he had guessed she didn’t have any property to lose to a husband, and thus no voting rights to forfeit. His arrogance was most annoying when it was right on the truth.
“I also believe in Aristotelian ethics,” she said, “and Aristotle says that there is greater value in striving for the common good than the individual good.”
“But women didn’t have the vote in the Greek democracies,” he said, a ghost of a smile hovering over his mouth. One could almost think he was enjoying this.
“They forgot to include women’s rights in the common good,” she muttered. “An easy mistake; it seems to be forgotten frequently.”
He nodded. “But then what do you make of the fact that men without property cannot vote, either?”
He was enjoying this. Like a tomcat enjoyed swatting at a mouse before he ate it.
Her temples were throbbing away in pain.
“Perhaps there should be more equality for the men as well, Your Grace.” That had been the wrong thing to say.
He slowly shook his head. “A socialist as well as a feminist. Do I need to worry about the corruption of my staff while you are here, Miss Archer? Will I have mutiny on my hands when I return from London tomorrow?”
“I wouldn’t dare,” she murmured. “There’s probably a dungeon under the house.”
He contemplated her with a hawklike gaze. “Oh, there is.”
I read a lot of historical romance and I have to say Bringing Down the Duke by Evie Dunmore is one of my favorite reads so far this year as well as at the top of my favorites for the genre. I devoured this in one day and couldn’t get enough of these characters.
Annabelle Archer is smart and while she has lived in the country and as a daughter of a vicar, she has earned a place as part of the first group of female students at the University of Oxford. The catch is that in exchange for her scholarship, she needs to support the women’s suffrage movement. That means she needs to get men of influence interested in championing their cause.
I loved Annabelle as a character. She is smart and she’s willing to put herself in an uncomfortable situation if it means she can make a difference. Her drive to want and be more than what society tells her she should be as a woman is something I love most about her, and I was so happy that Dunmore gave her a group of women to connect with through it. The friendships Evie develops not only help her in her mission, but also when she needs it most.
Sebastian Deveraux, the Duke of Montgomery, is driven to restore his family’s legacy and as a leader in Britain, he has the opportunity to get his ancestral home back as long as he agrees to be the chief strategic advisor for the election campaign of the Tory party…and keeps the current Prime Minister in power. Unfortunately for Sebastian, he really has no choice. Add to that the fact that the Tory party is against amending the Married Women’s Property Act and things are about to get really interesting for both Sebastian and Annabelle.
I do want to call out that I loved how Annabelle and Sebastian meet. Their immediate attraction and his willingness to dress down the guard who pushed her made me like him despite how he is described and the coolness with which he addressed Annabelle on the street. As Annabelle finds a way to infiltrate Sebastian’s home (along with her friends), their attraction only grows. I loved the banter and the fact that she is willing to challenge him.
Unfortunately for them both, once they do realize how much they are attracted to one another, they face the challenge of status and what that means in regard to a relationship between them. They both recognize that a vicar’s daughter and a Duke could never marry and Annabelle refuses to be his mistress. This leaves them in a place with no resolution and the only thing Annabelle can do is ask Sebastian to leave her alone but when the suffragist march on Parliament gets out of hand and Annabelle finds herself in a situation she can’t get out of, Sebastian is the one to save her but her actions do have consequences.
As everything comes to a head in this book, decisions need to be made both by Annabelle and Sebastian. I’m not going to tell you everything about this one so if you want to know, you will have to go get this book when it is released. Trust me, you will want to know ALL THE THINGS so if you don’t have this on your TBR shelf yet, go add it now. I will definitely be sitting back waiting for more books by Evie Dunmore as this debut has made me a fan. If you are looking for a historical romance with great characters, an interesting story, and slow burn romance you should definitely check this one out.
Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for the copy in exchange for an honest review!