Say No to the Duke is sweetly deep for summer


With smoldering feelings and some touching emotional journeys, Eloisa James’ Say No to the Duke has lots to offer for romance fans.

From the moment this reviewer saw the cover of Say No to the Duke, it was time to get excited. Yes, previous titles like Too Wilde to Wed and Born to be Wilde had great puns and great heroes, but Betsy Wilde practically demanded a story in her previous appearances. Here, we finally get to get inside her head, and it’s a fascinating journey.

Sure, as the book’s description also proves, she loves to do things like ride horses astride and generally flout convention like her family usually does, but we finally get to see why she’s also managed to have a killer Season. It all has to do with her mother’s reputation after running off. Betsy spends most of the book working through these issues, sometimes making progress, sometimes not, and still managing to fall in love with Jeremy Roden along the way.

Here’s the thing: Jeremy is also making a similar journey, and yet neither of them falls for the ability to fix the other person. Their chemistry is undeniable from the start, but they bring out the best in each other — the ability to try new things, or repair relationships, or protect someone dear to them. There’s a lot of growing being done in this book, all in all, and it adds another layer on top of the romance that’s blossoming.

Of course, Aunt Knowe returns as a major supporting character, and that’s all to the best, but the newer members of the cast, like Thaddeus and his mother the duchess, also acquit themselves well. Eloisa James doesn’t demonize Thaddeus in any way, but simply makes it clear that he and Betsy won’t suit, and lets Betsy discover that too, in her own time and her own way. Additionally, Jeremy’s father actually plays a part in the book, and it’s not as an antagonist, which is refreshing on its own.

Say No to the Duke is  certainly a change from the pace of the earlier books in the series, which might put some readers off, and it does feel like it might almost be too slow at points. However, the journey feels worth it in the end, even before you get to the adorable epilogue, and it’ll be interesting to see where the next book in the series goes, as James does put in a teaser for the next possible story. (No spoilers here, though! You’ll have to read and see.)

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Ultimately, this book has a perfectly summery feel to it, with its slow burn and searing passion, and it should find a spot on any romance enthusiast’s reading list this year. Here’s to another good book for Eloisa James!