Along Came A Duke by Elizabeth Boyle
Review by Issa S. (Issa-345)
Along Came a Duke is the first in the Rhymes with Love series. Tabitha Timmons is a country miss who is well past the normal marriage age, she has no desire to marry. That is until her maternal uncle’s death leaves her an heiress, subject to her marrying the man of his choice, Mr. Reginald Barkworth, before she turns 25. That happy day, of course, is only weeks away.
Along the way she meets Christopher Seldon, the Duke of Preston. Preston is a young man who spends his time gambling, drinking, wagering, and basically being a rake of the worst sort. He has just caused a peer to make a poor wager that ended up ruining him, and as a result society has made him and his family outcasts.
Tabitha and Preston inevitably meet. He keeps his identity as a duke secret from her and they begin a flirtation though she doesn’t really like him and while he is instantly taken with her he isn’t sure why.
Tabitha meets her fiancé, Barkworth and he is not to her liking. She does not want to go through with the wedding but doesn’t know how to stop it and continues her flirtation with Preston. Preston doesn’t feel Barkworth is right for her and when she asks Preston to ruin her so Barkworth will call off the wedding he agrees.
That’s not the end though, there is plenty of secrets and mayhem to follow.
Like most Elizabeth Boyle book, this one had potential, but it just didn’t work for me. Tabitha lives with her aunt and uncle. She is forced to live in the attic and is treated like a servant. Her strong dislike of marriage seems odd. Does she want to be a slave to her aunt and uncle all her life? Marriage seems to be the only way out for her.
Preston himself is not an interesting character and nothing is done to make him seem, well, ducal. He plays too much. He has little care about what his antics do to his family. He has no interest or knowledge in running his estates. I will grant that it is amusing to watch him chase Tabitha around but there is no substance to him, even when he decides to walk a straighter path.
Preston’s shunning by society also did not ring true to me. He’s a duke of marriageable age and he’s cut because he gambles, sleeps around, and pushes peers into wagers they ultimately lose. Didn’t many of them do that? I understand he’s not a polite society favorite, but the shunning of a duke did not make sense.
Barkworth is drawn so opposite to Tabitha it’s almost comical but still painful. They have nothing in common, he hates what she likes and vice versa. His mother, who would live with them of course, is high strung, overbearing, and has Barkworth under her thumb. They are caricatures of a bad fiancé and bad mother in law. Having better characters where Tabitha faced a dilemma about wanting to marry him might have made for a better story.
Really this book is a combination of several standard story tropes and cliches. No one of them is written all that interestingly and combining them all together in one story did not make for a very interesting read. The book felt like a sitcom to me, a general story, some laughs, but skims the surface in formulaic way. I give it an okay and hope for a better book 2.