Thursday, February 13, 2014

Review: Must Love Dukes

Must Love Dukes (Tricks of the Ton - Book 1) by Elizabeth Michels

Publication Date: 02/04/2014
Publisher: Sourcebooks
Imprint: Casablanca
Genre: Regency Historical Romance
Pages: 352
ISBN-10: 140228599X
ISBN-13: 978-1402285998

(Received for an honest review from Sourcebooks Casablanca)

Purchase: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Book Depository, Indiebound

Elizabeth Michels on the WEB: website, twitter, facebook, goodreads

Excerpt from, Must Love Dukes, courtesy of Amazon's Look Inside feature.


The Mad Duke leaned in closer, his lips gently brushing her ear, and whispered, "I dare you."
She Can't Resist the Dare
Lillian Phillips could not imagine how her quiet, simple life had come to this. Blackmailed by the Mad Duke of Thornwood into accepting one wild dare after another...all because of a pocket watch. Desperate to recover her beloved father's pawned timepiece, Lily did something reckless and dangerous and delicious—something that led to a night she'd never forget.
He has a Reputation for Scandal
When Devon Grey, Duke of Thornwood, runs into a mesmerizing, intoxicating, thieving woman who literally stole from his bedchamber—with his new pocket watch—Devon plots his revenge. If the daring wench likes to play games, he's happy to oblige. After all, what's the ruse of being the Mad Duke if you can't have some fun? But the last laugh might just be on him...


Elizabeth Michels debut novel, Must Love Dukes is the first book in her Tricks of the Ton, Regency romance series. Readers who are looking for a light, fun read will find this one right up their alley. Michels has created an interesting group of characters from a 'mad' duke to a very unconventional heroine. With everything from the evil machinations of siblings to blackmail, this story has a little bit of something for everyone. Michels writes with humor and grace and will likely be a strong voice in the historical romance genre. An author to watch!

What I liked:

Regency romances sometimes tend to run together. The same kinds of characters, the same situations, that kind of thing. When you come across a writer who adds some originality to her plots, it really stands out. Elizabeth Michels brings readers a story that is a bit uncommon for the Ton and that makes all the difference. Must Love Dukes has a remarkable set of characters that are both captivating and multi-faceted. Her plot lines were refreshing and somewhat unusual. Her sense of humor enlivened the pages and made the banter between the hero and the heroine irresistible. It's hard to believe this is a debut novel.

Debut novels come with all kinds of problems, especially if they are kicking off a series, as this one is. Most of the time author's spend so much time on set up that they forget about the story at hand. Not so, with Must Love Dukes. Michels is cognizant of making the background flow easily with the plot of the first book. She keeps her information concise and disbursed throughout the book. Giving the reader a feeling of knowing what the series is about without sacrificing what this particular novel has going for it. Very well done.

Lillian isn't your typical Regency heroine for several reasons. As readers who frequent books of this period know, the roles are women are very rigid. A woman who is even thought to be alone with a man,will have her reputations ruined. Lily defies those ideas by not only chasing the Duke of Thornwood down a dark alley but returning to his suite with him. If anyone should find out, her prospects at marrying well would be at an end, yet she doesn't seem to care. Her attraction to Devon is all she seems to be thinking about, except for her father's watch. Michels writes Lily with a kind of recklessness that is both captivating and risky. She knows the consequences of her actions but lets one thing lead to another several times in this book. I thought she was simply wonderful. Refreshing and full of life. 

Devon, the Duke of Thornwood is a gem of a hero. He has that aloof, bored attitude in some scenes while he is completely present and engaged in others. He is stubborn and he feels betrayed by Lily, when she steals the watch and slips away. When they meet again we see a side of Devon that cannot be characterized as anything but devilish. He decides the best way to get back at Lily is blackmail. He has her doing all kings of hilarious things and thwarting her brothers plans to marry her off to the highest bidder at every turn. Devon was fun and diabolical all at the same time. A great hero, who made the dialogue humorous and the book full of surprises.

I liked the whole background of the story as well. A young woman in man's world, at the mercy of her manipulating brothers who nothing more than to sell everything that was important to her family, including Lily. I thought the brothers made fantastic villains and when Devon figures out what they are up to, he gives it right back to them in a sense. I loved the by play between all of the characters and thought Michels did a great job of making the plot original and believable.

What I didn't like: 

Lily was definitely unconventional for the Regency period and a little thoughtless about her reputation. I had a hard time rationalizing how she would take no care in thinking about the consequences of her actions. This was a time period where image was everything. It certainly wasn't a deal breaker, but perhaps a bit out of character for the times.

Bottom Line:

This is a very light and enjoyable historical romance that will make the reader smile. The humor that Michels uses throughout the book is ingenious. I loved the characters and Devon was a fantastic hero. This is a book that readers will enjoy from the first page to the last!

Must Love Dukes is available NOW from your favorite bookseller.

I'm giving this one 5 out of 5 apples from my book bag!

About the Author:

Elizabeth Michels grew up on a Christmas tree farm in rural South Carolina. After tip-toeing her way through school with her focus on ballet steps and her nose in a book, she met a boy and followed him a thousand miles away from home to Kansas City, Missouri, before settling down in North Carolina. She attended Park University where she graduated Magna Cum Laude with a BA in Interior Design. Elizabeth is a lover of happily-ever-afters; she invites you to read her stories, get lost, and enjoy.

Giveaway Details:

Head on over to the Manga Maniac Cafe to enter for a chance to win a copy of Must Love Dukes. You only have today and tomorrow, so get busy!

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