Grand Central Publishing, $5.99, ISBN 978-1-4555-3403-6
Historical Romance, 2015
Dukes Are Forever seems like a debut effort. I may be wrong – these days, it’s hard to tell, with all the pseudonyms flying around – but it sure feels like one. This is the first in a series involving a bunch of heroic ex-soldiers called the Scarlet Scoundrels – because they are so hot off and on the fields, you see – and I suppose that name is better than, say, Humping Harriers. Then again: “The Scarlet Scoundrels are here! You are all going to die!” doesn’t exactly bring fear into the hearts of the enemies.
The plot sounds grand. Edward Westover, now the Duke of Swarthmore – these guys all conveniently get titles after they retire – wants vengeance on Phillip Benton because that man run down and killed his brother and the brother’s wife while driving a carriage drunk. The court let Phillip go, but Edward will never stop until he destroys Phillip. Oh, and do you know that he loves that dead woman married to his brother? Really! He rogered her first but she didn’t want to marry him because he was not the one in line to become a duke back then. As Edward says. his brother and his ex-sex bunny are now dead, but he is the one in hell because (a) he is now stuck with responsibilities he doesn’t want and (b) there are people who died and now he is the most hurting bastard in the whole universe. Please play lots of violins for him, because he is surely the most unfortunate person that has ever walked this earth.
So, anyway, Phillip is now bankrupt, thanks to Edward’s amazing gambling skills, so Edward now owns everything, including Phillip’s daughter. Our hero visits that daughter, and discovers that, instead of a girl, Kate Benton is 21, all hot and sexy, with very little brainpower to complete the “I AM AN IDIOT, NOW COME BREED YOUR BRATS ON ME!” poster girl representation of romance heroines in the genre. Of course he will get to shag her, the bigger question is: will he continue to mistreat her until kingdom come, or will he come to his senses at the last minute for the token happy ending?
This one is a predictable story, right down to all the misfires the author can do – and does. Kate may be left to fend for herself, her father showing up only to take things from her to sell, and the entire thing is about to collapse from the lack of funds, but Kate will naturally spend more time healing and tending to the sick in the land. She will also insist that her father loves her and tries to sneak around trying to help that man, making Edward even more suspicious and furious. Genius. But once Edward penetrates her senses through you-know-where, all of a sudden she morphs into an understanding person, making excuses for the way he treats her while trying to assure him that he is a noble person no matter how often he dances on her back.
Kate may be a martyr, but she’s not a meek one. Even when she is worried that Edward will snatch her home from under her feet, she will mouth off and act all pert and obnoxious around him, because that’s what sassy heroines do, and the author believes that everyone loves a sassy heroine. So, she’s a combo of martyr without a cause, imbecile, and enabler, with a mouth that just runs without knowing when to stop. Lovely.
As for Edward, he loves to make everything about him. He’s so convinced that he’s a miserable bastard, it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy as he gets to behave like one while moping and whining. He thinks in extremes. If she is against him, well, HE WILL BANISH HER… FOREVER! He takes self-absorption to new levels. Very late in the story, he tells himself that he is certain that Kate loves her and her feelings are true. So, he will hurt her, because he will never leave himself “vulnerable” to “wounding by a woman again”! Is this fellow for real? He’s such a man-child crybaby, and I have read quite a number of those in the last few weeks. Wah, wah, wah, a widdle woman hurt his feelings, he is going to die, wah wah wah.
Dukes Are Forever is a story of two characters who just keep showing their rear ends from start to finish. It’s pretty painful to read, and the lingering feelings that remain after the last page aren’t pleasant.