Duke of My Heart by Kelly Bowen

Overall: ⭐️⭐️

I hated this book. It was 80% mystery and 20% romance, which is already not my thing. I did know that going in and I was prepared for it, ready to love it. I wasn’t expecting there to be such a small focus on the romance. The mystery is not the reason I hated it, however. 

There was just something so very contrived about what little romance there was that it put me off. The whole book takes place in the course of about 48 hours and less than 24 hours into it the characters are saying things like:

“I can no longer deny that I want her” or “I’m behaving like a lovesick school girl” when neither of those things had happened. 

That their romance was “incredible and passionate” when nothing had happened but a couple of glances at her mouth and a short kiss. 

That the hero is “neglecting his life” and “barely recognizes himself” and “teetering at the edge of his endurance”, while the heroine has been “reckless and unprofessional” and had let her needs “eclipse everything that she knew to be right” after only a day with each other and nothing in their interactions accounts for these feelings. 

It just felt so forced and over the top and unrealistic for what had transpired between them, and frankly, it drove me crazy. 

As a mystery the book was ok. Reviews compare this to the show Scandal and perhaps in concept it is. But it’s not nearly as compelling. Initially I thought maybe this is a mystery I will like. But as it went on it unraveled for me. The story is both unpredictable and predictable. I will acknowledge that I was surprised by what had actually happened to his sister but once I knew, it was clear what Ivory would do to rescue her. I didn’t know exactly what the villain had in store for her but once that was revealed I knew exactly how the hero would get her out of it. Some things were so obvious it felt silly to pretend they were complicated secrets. 

The heroine is supposed to be some investigator extraordinaire but not only do she and the hero consider the mystery solved over extremely paltry evidence, but she misses a crucial element “because she’s distracted”. By what? I don’t know. Because, like I said above, nothing much had actually happened between them. Just some mouth gazing. The hero is dense and needs everything explained to him multiple times despite how clearly they were explained the first time. His favorite line in the book: “What?” He’s basically useless and solves almost nothing on his own. He does pull something off at the last hour but it was too little too late to make him any sort of remarkable character. The heroine was just too strong and independent for him. He got lost in the book and in the end I think his character got lost too. He gave up everything for her, which sounds romantic but she gave up nothing for him and that doesn’t feel like a partnership. It feels like a doomed future. 

There was also a lack of character development. There are a couple paragraphs about their pasts and that’s it. The rest is all centered around the “mystery” and something one might call lust, but it hardly even got there for me. There was so much mystery there was no time for any pull between them and the sex was average at best. I don’t feel like I know them any better at the end of the book than I did at the beginning. I know some things that happened to them. But I don’t know them. 

I know some people seem to love this book. I couldn’t wait for it to be over. And it’s a shame because Kelly Bowen is actually a very good writer. As in, she can construct prose very nicely. But I’m not convinced she can weave a solid story based on this book. The fact that she can construct two sentences together is what’s raising this to two stars for me. But other than that I don’t hope to ever set eyes on it again. 

Yikes. I’m sorry that was harsh. I always feel a bit guilty about these reviews but there’s no point in reviewing if I’m not going to be honest about it. 

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