Daring the Duke by Charlie Lane

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A Perfectly Imperfect Love

“Together, they strode down the hall, the perfect duke and duchess–unflappable, unimpeachable, and untouchable, even for each other.”

The theme of perfection is deftly woven into Daring the Duke as the heroine, Tabitha Hampton, is positioned to clash imperfectly with the handsome but rigid Duke of Collingford who is seeking perfection in a mate. From the start, the idea of a man seeking perfection in a woman is likely to get a reader’s back up–even though it must be admitted that the duke strives for perfection in all things, including himself. Furthermore, the duke’s quest for perfection is tied into deep-seated anxieties relating to his own worth as a son, a nephew, and the upcoming head of his noble family.

While the novel begins as an enemies-to-lovers story, the primary conflict of the story is between the newlywed couple Tabitha and Arthur and the groom’s family, particularly his exceedingly dislikeable uncle and unexpectedly vicious grandmother. The crux of the conflict hinges on a plot point that requires a suspension of historical disbelief–and this was my one qualm.

But other than that, the way in which Daring the Duke explores the extreme vulnerability between two people in a new relationship was unique, fascinating, and felt truly authentic. The fact that the couple marries midway through the novel was also a nice change, for they must decide whether or not to face trouble together as a united pair or to allow themselves to be pulled apart just as they are finally starting to truly come to know one another and to love the person they find, imperfections and all. I enjoyed how Arthur really evolved as a hero, becoming a passionate and loyal husband, and refusing to allow his own stubbornness and anxieties to keep him from supporting his wife.

Charlie Lane has a beautiful style of writing that will leave you admiring lines such as “They curtsied, sinking together like a single flower landing on the surface of a pond.” Jane Crenshaw and Lillian Clarke, along with the duke’s younger brother, Devon, add charm and wit to the plot. Looking forward to seeing their stories explored in future books in the series!

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