Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Review - - Bringing Down the Duke

by Evie Dunmore
Publisher: Berkley Jove
Release Date: September 3, 2019
Reviewed by Hellie 

England, 1879. Annabelle Archer, the brilliant but destitute daughter of a country vicar, has earned herself a place among the first cohort of female students at the renowned University of Oxford. In return for her scholarship, she must support the rising women's suffrage movement. Her charge: recruit men of influence to champion their cause. Her target: Sebastian Devereux, the cold and calculating Duke of Montgomery who steers Britain's politics at the Queen's command. Her challenge: not to give in to the powerful attraction she can't deny for the man who opposes everything she stands for.

Sebastian is appalled to find a suffragist squad has infiltrated his ducal home, but the real threat is his impossible feelings for green-eyed beauty Annabelle. He is looking for a wife of equal standing to secure the legacy he has worked so hard to rebuild, not an outspoken commoner who could never be his duchess. But he wouldn't be the greatest strategist of the Kingdom if he couldn't claim this alluring bluestocking without the promise of a ring...or could he?

Locked in a battle with rising passion and a will matching her own, Annabelle will learn just what it takes to topple a duke....


Annabelle is a Victorian Cinderella, poor but honorable, as she struggles to make ends meet and not blow her chance for a university education. If it means she needs to persuade the unpersuadable Duke of Montgomery, then she’ll do it. The suffrage movement who is footing her tuition bill needs men like the duke to stand up for their cause in Parliament, but the conservative duke seems like the last possible candidate for the position.

The Duke of Montgomery is delicious, rich, confident, conservative, and inescapably attracted to--of all things--a suffragette. Sebastian inherited the dukedom at a young age, finding that his inheritance had been squandered by his father and he was now in charge of raising a young brother fifteen years his junior and restoring the family name. Now thirty-seven, he has almost everything, save the lone family castle his father had lost in a game of cards. He will have it too, the Queen has assured him, so long as he remains on the right side of the suffragist cause. (That would be the Far Right. Queen Victoria is not a Modern Woman.) This is no problem--until he comes home and finds his house has been overrun by suffragettes his brother has invited for a house party. 

A brief house party becomes a stay until Christmas, then a New Year’s Ball. There is a fabulous scene of mistaken identity and the fallout as rightfully Annabelle decides she wants to stay anywhere but in the duke’s manor and takes off in the snow. There is a rescue...and in keeping with the time period and reality, somebody catches a cold and has to stay in bed. Which leads to more time spent together, which of course leads to “he’s falling for her!”

What’s new with Ms. Dunmore’s debut is that in addition to the language and behavior being in keeping with the time and society group, there is more conflict over class and what people in their station are allowed to do. For instance, a duke of Montgomery’s station does not marry a poor little church mouse from nowhere, especially if she is attending university (horrors!) and is a staunch suffragist. It is a detriment. While this is something that is handled in many a duke novel, it does seem to be more de rigueur nowadays to have a forward-thinking duke who has no problem marrying someone who should only ever be his mistress. Don’t get me wrong. I love reading about these titled men thinking in a way I would love 21st century men to think; however, sometimes all these forward-thinking 19th century dukes can be a stretch, even for my happy-escapism fiction. 

Still, in the end, it was a good solid read. And perhaps best of all, Annabelle has some friends who I think will have very delicious books of their own...and which we’ll all be looking forward to reading as well. I think this is only the beginning of a long and happy relationship. 


  1. Great review! I've been looking forward to reading this book.

  2. A new author can be a wonderful find and I tend to try more historical authors first.

  3. This sounds good. I like finding new to me Authors.

  4. This sounds good. I like finding new to me Authors.

  5. Thanks for the review. Sounds like a fun story.

  6. Debut stories are always tricky. Interesting topic and the times are a changing. Thanks for your review.

  7. Another new-to-me author. This book sounds like a very good read.