“I think she’s mocking her readers” is a surefire way to get me to read a book sample. While I disagree that Juliana Gray is winding us up, I am definitely not her target audience. In discussing this book on Twitter I found a number of us were more focused on the specifics of an opening scene than on the plot itself.
“Good morning, my dears,” he said cordially. The three ladies jumped in their three chairs. The corgi launched himself into the air and landed, legs splayed, atop the priceless Axminster rug, on which he promptly disgraced himself. Gray, Juliana. How to Tame Your Duke (A Princess in Hiding Romance) (Kindle Locations 151-153). Penguin Group US. Kindle Edition.
Pile or puddle? You’ll have to decide for yourself. If you’re laughing at that quote and inclined to read a book where a princess fleeing the murder of multiple family members embraces her “Uncle Duke” with deep affection despite his inability to recall the name of her recently murdered husband, then How to Tame Your Duke is for you. It’s obviously for a lot of people as Juliana Gray is very popular. Based on this sample, Gray is very much not for me.
How to Tame Your Duke follows one of the sisters into drag (my least favorite plot contrivance). This former princess then travels alone to take a position in the household of a scarred war hero. It’s my hope that Gray handles the disfigurement issue in a manner other than How Can You Touch Me When I Am Ugly Now. Of course Emilie is the intelligent one, in the way that book series must have a bookish one to offset the social one or the clever one. Emilie reads Augustine in the original Latin (as opposed to the unoriginal Latin, which was derivative and cliché filled). She hangs out in the common area of taverns with ease, as a German princess would be comfortable doing.
Chew and swallow, Miss Dingleby had always instructed her. A princess does not gag. A princess chews and swallows. A princess does not complain. The wine felt as if it were actually boiling in Emilie’s mouth. Was that even possible? She held her breath, gathered her strength, and swallowed. Gray, Juliana. How to Tame Your Duke (A Princess in Hiding Romance) (Kindle Locations 344-346). Penguin Group US. Kindle Edition.
So now that we’ve established that Princesses Always Swallow, the bar fight can get underway. (Every good princess in drag must be in need of a bar fight, it’s a romance rule.)
“Oh, it’s got a knife, has it?” He laughed again. “What’s that there in yer pocket, lad?” “Nothing.” He raised one hamlike fist and knocked the knife from her fingers. “I did say, what’s that there in yer pocket, lad?” Gray, Juliana. How to Tame Your Duke (A Princess in Hiding Romance) (Kindle Locations 398-400). Penguin Group US. Kindle Edition.
How to Tame Your Duke is the sort of book readers describe as delightful, full of madcap fun, irreverent. I use those buzzwords to avoid face palm reads. Gray is going to have a long career with ardent fans, but I doubt we’ll meet again.
Final Assessment: Wallpaper romance with crowd appeal. DNF
Source: Kindle Sample