Avon, $5.99, ISBN 0-380-80290-2
Historical Romance, 2000
This romance lost me completely. Am I getting too old? As much as I love tortured heroes, the hero Adrian St Ledger (no relation to the whiny, gloomy St Legers of Susan Carroll’s novels) manages to turn his torture into a one-man PMS billboard. And the heroine is pretty annoying too.
It also doesn’t help that the plot is quite convoluted. Since all rakes must have one redeeming feature – book-smartness – our Adrian is a brilliant paleontologist who is as crusty as the bones he plays with. He whines and grumbles when he inherits his dukedom, and he bitches and shows everyone the finger when he has to do annoying things like running his estates. Uhm, did anyone manage to pull out that femur from Adrian’s butt yet?
He meets our heroine Emmaline Stanhope who is everything from a fortune teller to marriage broker, and she also has lots of problems (living standards under the poverty line, ailing old auntie, et cetera – the usual Regency-era heroine jollies). Not only that, she is a murder suspect in a case connected to some spies Adrian is chasing after (don’t ask, I don’t want to untangle the knot of a plot either). To solve the mystery, Adrian pretends to need Emmaline’s help in seeking a wife, and Emmaline agrees.
They whine, bicker, scream, bitch, complain, and mourn about how miserable their lives are. Oh the pain indeed. Even when they are ripping each other’s clothes off, they are still walking billboards for dire case of PMS.
There are many things wrong with Never Kiss a Duke – stereotypical heroine with stereotypical baggage, a tortured hero that comes off more petulant and whiny than heroic, and a plot that is dead on arrival. Result? The title is accurate. Don’t ever kiss a stuffy duke like Adrian, unless you are one annoying heroine straight out of the Parentless, Debt-ridden, Poverty-stricken with Ill Senior Citizens/Hungry Siblings to Take Care of mold.