Avon, $7.99, ISBN 978-0-06-266664-2
Historical Romance, 2018
Edward Wolcott is a bastard. Sure, his merchant father acknowledges him, sent him to school, and now wants him to marry well and afford himself the opportunities and advantages that his father could never had, but he is a bastard, and therefore, he knows that he is undeserving of many nice things in life. Because he’s a bastard, you know. He did tell you that, right? His illegitimacy caused people to look at him funny, never mind that his BFF is Lord Carson who from all appearances is a committed buddy, he has no friends, no love, no rights, no no no because he is a bastard, and bastards are sad people who go to balls, get dancing lessons, show up at parties, mingle with blue-blooded toffs, and have little financial worries, and hence they are the most tragic lot in the universe.
And he’s a bastard. Hence, he’s a bastard. A bastard. Bastard. The bastard of bastards. Bastardy personified. The hound of bastardville. The bastard of bastard hall. The greatest bastard. Ba-ba-bastard. Bastard infinity. Big bastard. Bastard Ragnarok. Bastard league. Bastard versus Superman.
Okay, I’ll stop now, but unfortunately for all of us, Edward won’t. He lets up a bit on beating the dead bastard horse after the midpoint of this story, but that doesn’t mean that he will stop using the fact that mommy and daddy weren’t married when daddy’s sperm fertilized mommy’s egg as a reason to act like he’s the hunchback of Notre Dame furiously dry humping the cathedral bells because he’s just poked Esmeralda but he can’t be with her so he’s… wait a minute. But that’s our hero. You will notice that he gets everything here, handed to him sometimes on a silver platter, but he’d lash out after enjoying these nice things, using his illegitimacy as an excuse to bleat, mope, whine, and hurt other people. That is, if you haven’t put the book down after the hero repetitively reminds everyone that he’s a bastard in the first 30 pages. Needless to say, don’t play the drinking game every time he brings up you-know-what, unless you are a former alcoholic looking for an excuse to fall off the wagon again.
Meanwhile, Lady Olivia Howlett is not too unhappy when she’s now required to step up to the plate and marry Lord Carson after her sister ran off to marry another bloke instead. Why not? That man is hot, and she can certainly use his money and connections to do her favorite thing in the world: to make the world a better place. Okay, that’s her second most favorite thing – her absolute favorite is to boss everyone around, and baby, you better understand that is her way or the highway. Alas, Lord Carson seems more interested in everything else but her, but she has a plan to win his affection: his BFF Edward needs to be made up to scratch as the man is looking for a suitable bride to please the man’s father, so who better to help him than… her? As you can guess, those two fall in love just like every couple in an Avon romance usually do, right down to the “she won’t marry him after putting out for free” drama, and by the way, do you know that Edward is a bastard? It’s a very big deal, you know, and that’s why he can’t be happy despite this story making it so easy for him to do so.
As you can guess, I am not enamored of both the hero and the heroine. Edward is a whiny, bleating bore. I like the idea of Olivia’s bossiness and weird savior complex being made as some kind of character flaw, but she’s still an unpleasant character to follow, and her epiphany is a disappointing example of too much telling rather than showing. In fact, one reason why this story doesn’t work for me is that there is too much telling and not even showing where the characters’ emotions and motivations are concerned. There is a simplistic, robotic pulled-by-puppet-strings quality to the whole thing that makes it hard for me to see these two as people. Just very annoying, repetitive sorts, especially my god, that Edward creature who has so many good things in life but he’d prefer to just whine because he’s not man enough to tell his father no.
The Duke’s Daughters: Lady Be Reckless is an annoying, grating kind of predictable read, and I’m afraid I just can’t muster the patience to deal with the nonsense happening on those pages.