Review: WHAT I DID FOR A DUKE by Julie Anne Long

Review: WHAT I DID FOR A DUKE by Julie Anne Long

For years, he’s been an object of fear, fascination…and fantasy. But of all the wicked rumors that forever dog the formidable Alexander Moncrieffe, Duke of Falconbridge, the ton knows one thing for certain: only fools dare cross him. And when Ian Eversea does just that, Moncrieffe knows the perfect revenge: he’ll seduce Ian’s innocent sister, Genevieve—the only member of the powerful and wealthy Eversea family as yet untouched by scandal. First he’ll capture her heart…and then he’ll break it.

But everything about Genevieve is unexpected: the passion simmering beneath her cool control, the sharp wit tempered by a gentleness that coaxes out his deepest secrets… And though Genevieve has heard the whispers about the duke’s dark past, and knows she trifles with him at her peril, one incendiary kiss tempts her deeper into a world of extraordinary sensuality. Until Genevieve is faced with a fateful choice…is there anything she won't do for a duke?
Publisher: Avon, February 2011

Genre: Historical Romance

Single Title/Series: WHAT I DID FOR A DUKE is book five in the Pennyroyal Green Series but can very easily be read as a stand alone novel. VFG tested and approved.

Cover Thoughts: So, so in love with this cover. For a great in depth view on the making of this cover by cover artist James Griffin, check out Barbara's blog, Happily Forever After, and the amazing interview she conducted.

Origin: I received an Advanced Review Galley from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

My Review:

The Plot:

When provoked, Alexander Moncreiffe, the dark and dangerous Duke of Falconbridge, will not rest until the score is settled. And when Moncreiffe, a man who's happened to make revenge practically an art form, is cuckold by good 'ole boy, Ian Eversea, well it'll be an eye-for-an-eye showdown that's bound to knock the ton on its gilded arse. After all, a man such as Moncreiffe has a chillingly lethal reputation to uphold and Ian Eversea should have known the deadly results of his actions the moment he climbed into bed with the duke's erstwhile fiancé. After said fiancé is shipped unceremoniously off the island, the newly single Moncrieffe makes haste to Ian Eversea's country home and house party to wreck sensual havoc on Ian's sister, Miss Genevieve Eversea, and by default, wreck havoc on Ian. Oh yes, revenge will be sweet.

Unfortunately for Moncreiffe, the last thing in the world Genevieve Eversea wants to do at this moment is be sociable for her heart has just been cruelly sliced in two by her life long secret love, Lord Harry Osborne. Having lived for nothing but Harry's smiles, his happiness, and company, Genevieve feels only a desolate and crippling pain in his wake as she awaits the moment Harry goes down on bended knee and proposes to her best friend, Millicent. Suffering the most acute pain she's ever known, Genevieve wants nothing but to escape the Duke of Falconbridge for his presence is only a hindrance, blocking her flight to the sanctuary of her bedchamber and the quiet solitude that will soothingly serve as the backdrop to her tumultuous and heart wrenching emotions. However, the formidable and marriage-minded Mrs. Eversea will not allow this serendipitous moment presented by the duke's arrival to slip by unscathed. When attempting to fake the first headache she's ever had does nothing to dissuade her clever mother, Genevieve finds herself walking with the duke and encountering a man surprisingly as observant as she. But where Genevieve is content to keep her observations to herself, the duke uses his as a means to an end.

So much for Moncreiffe's plan of easy debauchery. When Moncreiffe lays eyes on the rather plain Genevieve Eversea, he never for a one single moment anticipated the startling surprises the mere slip of a girl would deliver. For one, he feels her disinterest acutely as she makes no secret that his own ardent interest - ardent for revenge sake of course - is unwanted as she, with amusing politeness, consistently introduces the duke to one different maiden after another in a blatant attempt to waylay his pursuit. Another much more intimate surprise is that Genevieve is heartbroken. Discovering her heartbreak within hours of meeting, Moncreiffe recognizes Genevieve for what she is, a mere hollowed shell who's simply surviving for survival's sake. Such a startling and annoyingly touching discovery prompts Moncreiffe to awaken Genevieve from her troubled stupor along with the urge to discover the source of her condition. And with the gift of each smile, of each unveiled and alluring dimple, of each pretty flush of her cheeks, Moncreiffe watches with alarming interest as Genevieve uncoils into a radiant and beautiful Venus as if from a frothy and mystifying mist where the duke, like Mars, is no where near immune. And finally, Moncreiffe is starstruck by Genevieve's soulfully innate desire to care for others, their comfort and their happiness. In all, Genevieve is dangerous and the duke, a man who prides himself on never losing, of most certainly never risking anything without knowing the value of the outcome, Moncreiffe, in the case of Genevieve Eversea, is going to take the greatest risk of his life with his most guarded and valuable asset: his heart.

Genevieve knows not what to with the duke. He plagues her incessantly prompting an opposing war of desires within her: the desire to flee, the desire stay. The man's an annoying conundrum and the last puzzle on earth that Genevieve wishes to solve. Harry's painful revelation is proof enough that Genevieve knows nothing of others, of those even the closest to her and therefore couldn't possibly provide the duke with the stimulating conversation his title deserves. So why does she tolerate the duke's rudely intimate inquiries, and even more to the point, why is she responding with her own intimate answers?

There's several reasons why Genevieve wants nothing to do with the duke. For one, he's old and twice her age and while that's not much of an excuse, she'll gladly add the thought to her arsenal. He's rude with his shocking intimacy and his bold talk of kisses and touching and lust. Oh the kissing. Genevieve has been kissed but when faced with the duke's sensual description of the act she aches to stomp her foot in indignation for it's painfully obvious that she knows nothing about kissing! And confound the man for revealing the most tantalizing hint of all; the presence of a heart and therefore successfully sending Genevieve's already unsettled emotions reeling. He's nothing but a nuisance and besides, it's Harry Genevieve wants...right? Genevieve, a woman who prides herself of her gift of observation and the foresight and clever ability to unravel the needs of others, has never found herself so lost, so unknowing of her own heart and emotions until having fallen for the Duke of Falconbridge.

The Heroine:

Genevieve Eversea embodies a soulful kindness that positively radiates but the nearly angelic trait can be intensely destructive in the most heart wrenching of ways. Never needing or requiring a thank you, she assists those she cares for with little thought to her own needs and sadly becomes a wallpaper backdrop for her loud and eventful family. Quiet, sensible and polite, she believes wholeheartedly in the good in people until she's blindsided by Harry's declaration to love her best friend thus irrevocably changing Genevieve's life, knocking the safely controlled axis of her sensible world and sending her spinning much like Alice falling down the rabbit whole.

Serving both as good and bad timing for Moncreiffe as he enters Genevieve's life when she's completely lost her footing, he sets forth to ply apart the vestiges of Genevieve's soul first for amusement's sake and then because she's genuinely garnered his focused interest. His attentions awaken the hidden passions that reside deep within Genevieve's core but while he succeeds, Genevieve is still reeling from the collapse of her once safe valedictions. She's still a soul who longs for sensibility and control because it's what's she's known and what she's thought she always wanted. The duke is the complete opposite of the life she's always imagined and having lost faith in her once clever ability to read others, Genevieve hasn't a clue of the duke's heart nor a clue of her own.

The Hero:

The Duke of Falconbridge embodies the holy trinity of Historical Romance traits: tall, dark, and every bit of dangerous. Intelligent and calculating with a barbed wit that could crumble even the most versatile conversationalist, the duke is rarely if ever surprised by anyone or anything. He's never once sat down to a card game where he's lost, he's never once took an investment risk that didn't yield the most lucrative of monetary gains and revenge is something he's perfect to an art. To put it succinctly, Moncrieffe is every bit the devil that the ton heralds him to be and even more so, he revels in the fear he instills.

Jaded to the core, of course, Moncreiffe's biggest mistake is not anticipating the effect Genevieve Eversea will have on him nor does he recognize that his heart's in jeopardy until it's far, far too late. While the duke is every bit the calculating man who never falters in doing everything and anything he can to get his way, deep down, beneath his multiple and complex layers of defense, is a genuinely good man who is simply looking for some one to care for. However, it's not until Genevieve that his own desire to shelter and provide for a woman comes to light. He's always known that that has always been his intention but never did he realize the intensity of that desire until it's quite possible that he'll lose his chance thus provoking him to take the great risk of his life.

My Final Thoughts:

WHAT I DID FOR A DUKE lived up to the raving early review hype most pleasurably. A book as cleverly written as the clever characters it features, this truly is a complex masterpiece launched from a surprisingly simple plot arch. However, this simplicity allows for wonderful and detailed character evolution. A character, in my opinion,  is most pleasurable to read when change from beginning to end is obvious for the journey from A to B is what makes a story a story. And isn't that why we love romance? To see the character change brought forth by love? To witness the awe-inspiring power of love? This is likely why the romance genre is such a powerful economic force in the publishing world. But I digress, this was a stellar read, one that didn't make a mockery of the reader or its characters.

Both Moncreiffe and Genevieve are very internally driven characters where each  and every word spoken is emitted only after careful thought. These are two people that believe they've got life beat but when faced with each other, it's alarmingly evident that they'd cheat themselves with a half life if they continued on their own safe paths. To be challenged can be both frightening and difficult and there's understandable safety in believing that life is and always will be predictable yet there's something so tantalizing about walking the unknown. And perhaps that's the moral of this novel, to believe and feel deserving of something better, of something amazing and then having the courage to seize life and live.

Finally, this is a very intimate read, one where it felt almost like a transgression to continue flaying my eyes upon the words as Long takes us deeper and deeper into these two beautiful and very guarded souls. Richly detailed with long and languorous scenes, the slow revolution of time at a quiet country house party is physically felt and savored. For romance readers that enjoy a very intimate, a very character driven and languorous plot, don't hesitate a single moment before diving into this cover-to-cover, beautifully written novel. Enjoy!

4.5 Stars

More Reviews:

Happily Forever After
The Romanorum
The Season Blog

The Pennyroyal Green Series:

1. THE PERILS OF PLEASURE
2. LIKE NO OTHER LOVER
3. SINCE THE SURRENDER
4. I KISSED AN EARL
5. WHAT I DID FOR A DUKE

10 comments:

Smokinhotbooks said...

I. Loved. This. Book.

Charlotte Featherstone said...

Oh, what a wonderful review! I have this on the very top of my TBR pile, and i cannot wait for a bit of breather so I can dig in! Thanks for this, and ramping up my already considerable eagerness to crack open the cover of this book!

Carrie at In the Hammock Blog said...

what an awesome review! i can't wait to read this!

Dalila G. said...

Wow, what a review, you really went full force!! I LOVE IT!!

I have to agree, cover is pretty awesome, love all that hair....hers too!

I started reading Julie Anne Long way back, when she wrote THE RUNAWAY DUKE.
In my opinion it was an excellent book.
I said to myself that I will have to keep my eye out for her future books.
I have not been disappointed yet. :-)
The Pennyroyal Green series is very good!!
I can't wait to get my copy of WHAT I DID FOR A DUKE.

Thanks for your stamp of approval!!
:-D
Three cheers for VFG!!!

Scorpio M. said...

I really enjoyed this one, too. It had depth but still a fun & fast read. I really liked that Alex was older, a bit jaded but still had dreams of falling in love. Very sweet. :)

Tanya said...

Wow, great review VFG!! So many times I've wanted to retrieve it from NetGalley, but wasn't sure if I needed to read the other books in the series, or if it could be read as a stand-alone? I've heard good things about this particular title, but your review makes me want to go get now regardless of the series! :)

Barbara said...

YAY!! I'm so happy that you enjoyed this one. As you know, I LOVED LOVED LOVED this book. It was everything I look for in a historical romance. You really did such a great job at summing up the hero...sigh... Great review!!

Blodeuedd said...

Nice review :)
Awww yes I do love to see them go from 1 to b, and how love brings around change :D

Karyn Gerrard said...

Great review VFG,

It is one of the best I have read so far this year, so much so, I just ordered some of the earlier books of this series.
I agree, richly detailed, wonderful characterization and sexy.

VampFanGirl said...

Hey KC! Oh yeah! This romance rocked!!

Hugs, VFG

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Hi Charlotte!

Thanks! I think you'll really enjoy this romance. While not super heavy on the steam, the sex scenes were still deelish but the best part is the dialogue. So good!

Hugs, VFG

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Thanks Carrie!

Hugs, VFG

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Thanks Dalila!

Oh so love this cover. The stary skies are perfect too with relation to the plot. You remember that scene right? On the bench? Yowzaa! I've got to read more of this author. Right now, I'm dying for Olivia's book. That guy who left her needs a good wack to the head!

Hugs, VFG

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Hi Scorpio!

Me too, I really enjoyed that Alex was older. He had so much to "teach" Genevieve. *wink*

Hugs, VFG

***

Thanks Tanya! Oh girl, you've got to request this book!!! And you don't need to read the other stories at all. WIDFAD is book 5 and this was my entry into the series having never read Long before. Trust me, there's no need to read the previous installments but you'll want to afterwards!

Hugs, VFG

***

Hey Barbara! Thanks so much for this wonderful recommendation. You supplied me with endless minutes of pleasure. :)

(((HUGS))) VFG

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Thanks Blodeuedd!

Character evolution is a must. I hate when I can't recognize any change.

Hugs, VFG

***

Thanks Karyn!

Oooo I can't wait to read what you think of the previous installments. I'll be on the look out for your reviews.

Hugs, VFG

 
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