Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Guest Review - - What I Did for a Duke

What I Did for a Duke
By Julie Anne Long
Publisher: Avon
Release Date: February 22, 2011

Julie Anne Long’s Pennyroyal Green series has become one of my favorite series. What I Did for a Duke is book 5 in this exceptional series and my favorite so far. I was hooked by the first chapter, a textbook perfect illustration of “inciting incident,” one that leaves the reader breathless with laughter and wonder at the author’s audacity. Ian Eversea, with typical Eversea recklessness, earns the enmity of Alexander Moncrieffe, Duke of Falconbridge, a man of power, wealth, and impressive intelligence, who decides that Ian’s punishment should be appropriate to his offense. Instead of killing Eversea, Moncrieffe plans to use Genevieve, Ian’s virtuous, scandal-free sister, as the instrument of revenge. But Genevieve is far more—more complicated, more interesting, more passionate--than the innocent that the duke expects, and he finds himself and his heart tangled in the trap of his own making.

Mere summary can only hint at the delights of this book. Foremost is the relationship between Genevieve and Moncrieffe as they delve beneath the superficial images of conventional maiden and dangerous rake. It is a relationship that surprises both of them with discoveries about one another and that pushes them to recognize unexplored parts of their very selves. With his scandalous reputation, his taste for the perfect revenge, and his willingness to do whatever is necessary for his beloved’s best interests, Moncrieffe reminded me of Georgette Heyer’s Justin Alistair, Duke of Avon. Long reveals far more of her hero than does Heyer, and Moncrieffe is humanized through the revelations in a way that Alistair is not; but the resemblance is there. Genevieve is quite simply one of my favorite heroines ever. She seems real to me. I understand her frustration concerning the image others hold of her, and if I had held any doubts that Moncrieffe was perfect for her, they vanished like the dew with his gift of flowers. I also loved that as different as Genevieve and Moncrieffe seem, they are alike in significant ways—not least in that their public personae are carefully controlled. We are told that Genevieve “always swiftly sieved her own thoughts through layers of care and propriety before they left her mouth. Her proverbial still waters ran very deep.” Of Moncrieffe, Long writes, “Rumor and reputation composed what was known about him now. It had made him outrageously wealthy and feared."

One of the deep joys of reading a JAL book for me is the language. Few writers have her gift of creating unexpected comparisons that add dimension to her characters. For example, here are some of Moncrieffe’s thoughts when he first begins to comprehend the many facets of Genevieve:

"He wasn’t precisely . . . nonplussed. Still, this particular vision of Genevieve Eversea required reconciling with the quiet girl in the morning dress, the moor pony with her determined gait. As though they were not quite the same thing, or were variations of the same thing, like verb tenses. He felt a bit like a boy who needed to erase his morning lessons and begin again."

With I Kissed an Earl, the fourth Pennyroyal Green book, Long increased the sensuality level of the story. What I Did for a Duke follows suit. But even though WIDFAD has some scorching love scenes, Long sacrifices none of the sexual tension that contributed to the success of earlier books. I’m happy to report that this is an author who understands the importance of kisses. Look at that gorgeous cover. This is one case where the cover fits the content. In one memorable passage, Moncrieffe tells Genevieve what a lover’s kiss should be:

"It should make you do battle for control of your senses and your will. It should make you want to do things you never dreamed you’d want to do, and in that moment all of those things will make perfect sense. And it should herald, or at least promise, the most intense physical pleasure you’ve ever known, regardless of whether that promise is ever, ever fulfilled. It should, in fact" . . . he paused for effect, “. . . haunt you for the rest of your life.”

Sigh! I do love a hero (and an author) who understands the power of words to seduce.

I could go on pointing out things that made me love this book and quoting passages that delight the reader in me even as they turn the writer in me green with envy. But my fingers would soon tire of typing, so I’ll just say that What I Did for a Duke is one of those this close to perfect books. I give it my highest recommendation. Now I’m going back to read it again.


Barnes and Noble
Book Depository (Worldwide Free Shipping)


  1. I can't wait to read this book. I've always been a fan of Julie Anne's books.

  2. Janga

    Great review
    I am really looking forward to this one

    Have Fun

  3. This truly sounds like a read to get the blood moving! Can't wait to read it. Bet I won't be able to put it down!

  4. Looking forward to this one! So far, "Love Like No Other" has been my favorite JAL but that could change. Thanks for the review.

  5. Sounds very yummy, Janga! Another to add to my TBR pile, for sure!

  6. Julie Anne Long is an author whose books that I have been told repeatedly that I need to read and just haven't found the time to do so. One of these days, I will. Thanks for this wonderful review, Janga!

  7. This is a great review, Janga. It makes me want to read the book all over again, which I've reread at least six times already.

    I absolutely loved this book. It wowed me in every singular way, and there were so many moments where my breath suspended and Long held me enraptured...enthralled every single word.

    This book is definitely a keeper for me, and easily is in my top ten romances, if not top five.

  8. Wonderful review, Janga! I now have this entire series on my TBR pile. LOL

  9. Thanks, everyone. I really had to rein in my enthusiasm when writing this one less it become more rave than review. I seriously loved this book! JAL is an extraordinary writer. Like Ely, I know WIDFAD will join my list of all-time favorites. I hope all of you read it and enjoy it too.

  10. Great review, Janga! The book really sounds fantastic.

    Based on that, and all of the other great comments about the book and her writing, it sounds like JAL is an author I should start reading.

    Right. Like I need another author to fall in love with and add to my ever growing TBR pile. Lol.

  11. This sounds like an interesting read. I love the heroine's name...there's something musical about it.

  12. Great review, Janga! I love Julie Ann's books. She never disappoints.

  13. I cannot WAIT to read this book!!! :-)

  14. Wonderful review, Janga! I fell in love with this series with the first book and have fallen more deeply in love with the characters and Long's exquisite writing with each of the books that have followed. Can't wait to read What I Did for a Duke!

  15. This is the second review of this book I have read tonight. Both have given it their highest praise. I love reading different reviews of a book because they usually focus on different aspects of the piece. In this case, the other mentioned the well drawn characters and the humor among other things. You also mention the characters, but mention the craft of her writing, giving wonderful examples of her use of words and phrases. You both seem to agree that this is an excellent book that we should not miss. I don't think I have any of these on my TBR mountain, but I am going to check. If not, they will be added.
    yhan you for the review.

  16. Thanks for this nice book review. I enjoyed it. I read book reviews on different sites, I find your review very genuine and orignal.

  17. I can't wait to read it either, even more seeing you say nearly perfect, Janga. Top of my wishlist after loving I Kissed an Earl.