Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Guest Review - - The Irish Duke

The Irish Duke
By Virginia Henley
Publisher: Signet Eclipse
Release Date: March 2, 2010

When nine year old James Hamilton, Marquis and future Duke of Abercorn, first laid eyes on the beautiful and fiery Lady Louisa Russell, daughter of the Duke and Duchess of Bedford, he forfeited his heart. He was so taken by her that he immediately asked for her hand, and Lady Louisa dismissed him like only a seven year old could. Her heart belonged to dance and the stage. Marriage was certainly of no interest to her.
Ten years later, Louisa is on the cusp of her introduction into society and being the image of her beautiful mother, she certainly has no shortage of suitors. None of whom she could care a fig about. Even though she has resigned herself to the fact that a future career as an actress and dancer is wholly impossible for someone of her rank, she refuses to relinquish the freedom she so enjoys to any man. Lady Lu’s desire to be her own woman is not the only thing that keeps her as far from the altar as possible. Beneath her dark beauty and resolute assuredness lies a deeply rooted fear - a fear that will surrender her to a life of spinsterhood despite what emotions the devilishly handsome Abercorn might stir in her heart. When a scandal erupts, Louisa’s loyalty to her family forces her into the arms of Abercorn, where she must face and conquer her personal demons or lose the one man she might ever truly love.

Ten years has done nothing to douse the torch Abercorn has carried for Lady Lu. Her beauty and innocent grace utterly captivates him, and when he finds himself at Worburn Abby for summer, he sets on his quest to claim her for his bride. He slowly but surely infiltrates her defenses, discovering Louisa's true inner beauty and falling more deeply in love than he had ever imagined. Despite the shock and disappointment of the scandal that forces Louisa to marry him, he takes it as an opportunity Louisa would never have afforded him otherwise and is determined prove their love could be one for the ages.

Personal Notes: One of the main reasons I chose The Irish Duke was because of the historical connections. I am a huge history nerd and nothing attracts me more than fiction based on actual people. I have a deep respect for Virginia Henley for taking on this task, if for nothing else than the sheer amount of research it must have taken to write this book. In this respect, she did not disappoint.

That being said, I felt the story only scratched the surface of the characters and never really delved into the depths of their psyches, which made it difficult to truly invest myself in them. I have no doubts that Virginia Henley is a fabulous writer and that she poured a lot of love and emotion into The Irish Duke, which with the level of historical fact involved was surely a monumental task. However, it unfortunately fell short of my expectations. It has not, however, turned me off to her other books. I still look forward to many of her stories to come!

~Jenn Colman
 Guest Reviewer


  1. Thanks for guesting with us, Jenn. Great review! I've read this book and agree with everything you had to say. The history was rich and kept me involved in the story but I would have enjoyed more depth from the main characters. Still, it was an enjoyable read.

  2. Hi, Jenn! Terrific review. I often think the books that disappoint me most aren't those I dislike but the ones in which I see rich promise that fails to be fully realized. It sounds as if TID were that kind of read for you. But I agree that Henley is not a writer to give up on. Even heavy hitters sometimes get only a single or even strike out. (Forgive the baseball metaphor. I blame it on all the baseball conversation at my house. LOL)

  3. Great review! Sorry this one was a little disappointing.

  4. Welcome to the guest review spot, Jenn! It's been years since I read a Virginia Henley book, but I do remember them being hit or miss for me. Thanks for the great review!!

  5. Thank you!

    Thanks PJ! I've got the first review jitters out of the way now. :) You know, something I really wanted to know while reading TID was why Georgy acted the way she did. I could see perhaps overcompensating for being in her sister's shadow, but I would have loved for the author to Georgy's brain a bit.

    Hi Janga! Thank you for reading the review. I have to agree with what you said; it's always the ones with the most promise that miss the mark that disappoint me more than something that I dislike from the get-go. I really feel with TID it was a situation that the character development fell victim to the historical accuracy of the setting and family. While in essence, this is not wholly a bad thing, it can throw a hitch in fiction book, romance especially, when the story is so dependent on how the reader connects with the hero and heroine.

    Hi Carrie! Thanks for reading. I was disappointed to be disappointed (haha) because I wanted so very much to love it. Even if I wasn't head over heels for it, it was and entertaining read.

    Thank you for the warm welcome, Andrea. I think that "miss" books are sort of a hazard of the trade, especially with more published authors. My theory is that while writing more books lets writers hone their craft and find their voice, the contractual obligations and deadlines can hinder the creative process. Sometimes characters write their own books and sometimes the author has to drag them kicking and screaming to the printers.

  6. Hey Jenn! Sorry for my last post -- yesterday was chaos in the making :-)

    Thanks for the great guest review! I too have read a few books where I felt the potential of the characters and the storyline was not realized to its fullest. I have never read a Virginia Henley book. Not really sure why, but it just hasn't happened yet. Maybe one day.

  7. It's too early in the morning! That should read "late post" not "last post". UGH! Yesterday was a long day and now it is intruding on today - LOL!

  8. Great review Jenn. I agree with Janga about the books with the most promise not being realized as the most disappointing. I have read Henley's books before and will continue to read hers in the future.

  9. Thanks Buffie and Cindi!

    I can sympathize on the long day! It's been one of those weeks, really... :P

  10. Thanks for the review. Historical romances are romances and not historical novels. That said, it is a shame when you are basing the story on real people and events in their lives and don't take advantage of as much of it as you can.
    I have enjoyed Ms. Henley's books in the past and will read them in the future. She may not use all the information available to her, but she writes a good story.