A Duke Like No Other by Valerie Bowman
Mark Grimaldi isn’t a duke. He’s not even the direct heir to a duke. He doesn’t want anything to do with his mother’s powerful family, determined to become Home Secretary on his own merits. Only problem is, his superiors want a family man for the position, and they’re suggesting Mark take a wife. Except… he’s already got one. He’ll just need to go and find her.
Nicole left England ten years ago for a quiet life in the French countryside, when it became clear her husband’s ambition far outstripped his affection for her. Now he’s come for her, and her loneliness prompts her to offer him a desperate bargain.
I quite like reunion romances, but this book did spend a lot of time teasing the reasons for their breakup, only to reveal eventually it was because they both concealed information from each other and Mark couldn’t get past it. Which, since Nicole was a teenager at the time, really made me think he was a bit of an ass. He expected too much of her, and never going after her was just ridiculous, frankly. Especially since, according to the timeline, she left to live in France in 1809 or so, slap bang in the middle of the Napoleonic Wars. An Englishwoman living peacefully in a country chateau in France in those years? Sorry, my suspension of disbelief doesn’t quite stretch that far.
That said, my suspension of disbelief had already ridden off laughing into the sunset when I was asked to believe that Mark had progressed from the rank of Army Corporal to General in ten years. A rank jump from Captain to General in ten years would be pushing it, even in those days where money and birth could buy rank; corporal is nothing short of flatly impossible. I don’t think the author understands how ranks and officer’s commissions work, and an editor should certainly have picked up such a wildly impossible assertion. A lowly corporal - an enlisted man just one step above the common private - would certainly never have been welcomed into the homes of the aristocracy without acknowledging his heritage, in which case he wouldn’t be a corporal anyway. It just doesn’t make sense.
Though I enjoyed much of the story and I do like the author’s writing style, Mark’s arrogance and pride and the unbelievable occurrences I’ve mentioned here make it impossible for me to give the story more than three stars.
Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book for review through NetGalley.