Book 1 in The 1797 Club Series
The Daring Duke
The wild and charismatic Duke of Abernathe is the kind of friend anyone would wish to have. He even formed the 1797 Club, consisting of ten men who would all be dukes. But he has full-throatedly declared he will never marry and no one understands why.
But Miss Emma Liston doesn’t care why. A longtime wallflower with an absentee father who is a scandal waiting to happen, she needs to marry. Now. She decides to take a wild chance and ask the help of her friend Meg’s brother James. She asks him to pretend he’s interested in her just long enough to gain the attention of others. He agrees but is quickly taken aback by how easy everything is with Emma.
When her father returns, threatening her with a terrible future, their courtship swiftly becomes all too real. Will James ever reveal the true man beneath the outer shell? And can Emma discover her own worthiness before it’s too late?
Review: I’d like to start this review by apologizing for the initial blank post. With the snow storm yesterday, I didn’t get a chance to go on my computer and update the scheduled post to include the review. Thank you for your patience and please enjoy my review of The Daring Duke!
The Daring Duke is the introduction to Jess Michaels’ 1797 Club series. The club, consisting of ten dukes or future dukes, gets its name from the year it was founded. James, the hero, creates the group at Eton as a child after being abused by his father. The purpose of the club is for the ducal heirs to learn how to be dukes and support one another. I quite enjoyed this premise and am looking forward to reading the future books. While the titles were all a bit overwhelming at first, this book mostly focused on James and his two best friends. The trauma of James’ childhood would go on to have a lasting impact on him and be his motivation behind later actions.
We meet grown-up James again at a ballroom where we are also introduced to the heroine, Emma. She is a blue-stocking and a wallflower. After recently having re-read Lisa Kleypas’s Devil in Winter and then devouring her new Devil in Spring, I was primed to read about another wallflower. They’re one of my favorite tropes because people always underestimate them. It is clear that Emma is attracted to James but she believes that he will never see her. However, a newly forming friendship between Emma and James’ sister, Meg, means James and Emma are now in each other’s company a lot more. Emma needs to marry soon because of her horrible family while James wants to avoid the ton’s marriage market. While they both are attracted to each other, James comes up with a way for them both help each other. By courting Emma, the ducal James will make her more attractive to other suitors. Once their courtship ends, James can plead a broken heart and avoid the match-making mothers.
At times throughout the book, the courtship plot wore a bit thin. It was obvious to everyone around them that James was starting to care for Emma but he kept denying his feelings. This continued even as they had secretive amorous encounters. Emma, in the meantime, was forced to fend off her overly zealous mother. When Emma’s father returns, circumstances force both James and Emma to truly examine their feelings for each other.
Some additional things I enjoyed about the book: The acknowledgement that Emma’s mother was equally as horrible as her father. She was constantly manipulating her and I was afraid that her horribleness was just going to be brushed aside.
Also, Meg! I adored James’ sister and I can’t wait to read about her again. I have a feeling she’s going to be in the next book.
Overall, this was a really pleasant read. James and Emma were both likable characters who still had personal trauma’s to overcome. This book was an excellent start to the series. It’s clear that all the dukes are going to have books and there were some interesting tidbits dropped about them throughout this story. I’m definitely going to continue with this series.
Rating: 4 out of 5!
Written by Jess Michaels:
USA Today Bestseller Jess Michaels began writing full-time in 1999 after being encouraged by her husband to follow her dream. Since then she has published over 50 novels and novellas under three different pen names with several major publishers, small presses and via self-publishing. Her erotic historical romances have been national bestsellers and won awards from booksellers and readers.
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*Received a free copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.