The Trouble with Dukes is like reading a verbal dance. The dialogue is oh, so proper while at the same time conveying all manner of nefarious or sensual intents. Even the villain attacks using proper peerage etiquette. Ms. Burrowes has a deft hand when it comes to writing in this period.
The story is mainly told through three points of view: Hamish, the hero, Megan, the heroine, and Sir Fletcher, the villain. Hamish may not be eloquent in his speech when conversing, but his dialogue in his head flows smoothly. Megan turns out to be a woman who knows her own mind and goes after her prey with single-minded purpose – the hero never stands a chance. As for Fletcher – he has the potential to be redeemed based upon his little sister, but alas, there are circumstances that dictate his course of action. Once I found out the actual facts of the matter, his comeuppance is a foregone conclusion but the way it is delivered is grin-worthy. It inspires a mental ‘fist bump’ of ‘high-five’ and it’s worth reading.
Megan’s family are prominent secondary characters that play significant roles in helping to unraveling the plot and pave the way towards the great conclusion. Their personalities are large and entertaining but Ms. Burrowes kept them in line so Hamish and Megan’s romance remains the focal point.
An interesting twist is who seduces whom. The ensuing sensual hijinks are a delight to read. It also inspires a few chuckles and snickers.
The novel is very well written and entertaining but it may give some readers a feeling of cotton-head in the beginning. What I mean is, the ‘proper’ method of speech between Megan’s cousins sounds contrary to the subject matter yet they have no problems deciphering the issues and making plans to route the villain. I had a very hard time processing the dialogue in the first half of the book as I’m used to very plain speech. Once my brain “re-wired”, I found my reading rhythm and quite enjoyed the story from then on. It won’t surprise me if the book gets higher ratings from other readers, especially if they are accustomed to the Regency style of speech that is employed in this novel. Ms. Burrowes has a solid and well-earned reputation as a storyteller and it’s evident in The Trouble with Dukes.
On the whole, I’m glad I read this novel. I was entertained and charmed by the romance between Hamish and Megan. The final wrap-up leading to their happily ever after is hilarious while at the same time, serious. Want to know the best part about the ending? It’s romantic. Very romantic. It’s exactly what this romance reader seeks and I couldn’t be happier.
Editor's note: This article was originally published at Long and Short Reviews. It has been republished with permission. Like what you read? Subscribe to the SFRB's free daily email notice so you can be up-to-date on our latest articles. Scroll up this page to the sign-up field on your right.