The Determined Duchess by Erica Monroe
I’m a bit stumped where to even start reviewing this book. I’ve read Regency romances with determined heroines before, even ones interested in science, and ones with supernatural themes.
I’ve never read one where the heroine was an alchemist determined to reanimate her dead adoptive mother.
To his credit, the hero reacts very well when he discovers the object of his affection is dabbling in necromancy. But then, he’s known Felicity all her life. I still think I’d have been backing away slowly, looking around nervously for the villagers with pitchforks and burning stakes.
The author really made the alchemy part of the storyline work, and Felicity’s background was such that the level of her grief was perfectly understandable. Nicholas, the hero, was marvellous too, especially as he came to realise how badly he’d treated Felicity in the past simply because he didn’t understand her. The way he apologises was delightful; I haven’t seen a lovely apology since Mr. Darcy.
Though this isn’t the first in series, it stands perfectly well alone. The narrative centers almost entirely on Nicholas and Felicity, other characters only making very minor appearances.
The only problem I had with the story is that there seems to be a sudden jump in the romance from Felicity and Nicholas kissing, to her declaring that she would make a terrible duchess, to Nicholas telling her she’ll be fine. There wasn’t really much in the way of actual ‘falling in love’, at least, not from Felicity’s side. Frankly, there didn’t seem to be much in the relationship for her, especially since Nicholas had already told her he’d permit her to remain at the estate with funds to continue her research.
The alchemy and science part of this story was wonderfully researched and written, as was the characterisation, but the romance felt really rushed, and for that, I can’t give it five stars. It’s a solid four, though, and definitely one of the more unusual premises I’ve seen for a historical romance!
Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book for review through NetGalley.