The Duke is But a Dream
Debutante Diaries #2
St. Martin’s Press, Jul 2019
317 pages, Kindle
The cover is lovely! The cool grayed blue of the background makes it airy and open. The archway in the background is a nice touch as well. But the piece de resistance is the absolutely luscious ivory gown the lovely lady is wearing front and center. Its lace and flounces and train create an almost angel-like appearance. More earthly would be a bridal look, I suppose. This does not at all reflect the actions of the young woman in the book.
It’s always fun to read a historical romance with a rebellious woman who’s ahead of her times and who bends society’s rules a bit. However, Lily Hartley doesn’t just bend the rules, she breaks them and stomps all over them. She’s so far ahead of her times that she might almost be time-traveling from the future! No duke of his time would have allowed his young, impressionable sister anywhere near this unknown person he’d brought home from a pub brawl. Then when she has no memory of who she is or where she comes from. Huh! Her very behavior speaks loud and clear, no matter what his feelings or wants might be. I know we are supposed to suspend belief when we read these books, but this just seemed so unrealistic that I couldn’t enjoy anything but the lovely picture on the cover.
Even before Lily loses her memory, when she and her sister, Fiona are talking: (quote from unedited ARC may not appear in final pub edition)
“Do you ever worry that one of our readers will find herself in trouble because of our advice?”
Lily considered the question. “I suppose that if a reader was caught doing something improper, her reputation could suffer a bit. There are worse fates”
Fiona nodded, thoughtful, “She could be forced to marry a man she doesn’t love.”
“You have a point,” Lily conceded. “But our readers know the column isn’t meant to be taken as gospel. The advice is on the daring side and a bit tongue-in-cheek. Still, truth lies at the heart of all we say. We should not shy away from the truth”
Fiona pulled Lily into an unexpectedly fierce hug. “You’re absolutely right. Someone needs to champion all the shy debutantes and meek wallflowers out there, and I can think of no one better than you.”
Good Lord! Fiona is a newly married sister who draws pictures for the column. Her art is apparently improving the longer she’s married. Lily writes the column from her position of a virgin, unmarried, uncourted, unkissed. There is a third young woman, Sophie, also unmarried, who is involved in the column. These three are giving advice to the wallflowers of society on how to catch a husband! At least Fiona’s married, but she’s only drawing pictures, which the debutantes don’t need to see at this stage of their courting! Debs in history got in trouble being caught in a clutch with any man. They got married very quickly without being asked if this was the one they wanted or not. Her comment that “her reputation could suffer”? Yes, that reputation she talks about was what all those debs worked day and night to keep spotless. Without that, they were nothing in society, whether high society or something more common. So daring advice is probably not what they should be getting from anyone!
As I said, it all just seemed too unrealistic. Sometimes a story will be a little off, but this one is just too out of kilter with its timeframe to work for me. Too bad, because Lily could have been a good rebellious heroine in another time. Sorry that I can’t recommend it.