Series: A League of Extraordinary Women #1
Published by BERKLEY on September 3, 2019
Genres: Historical Fiction, Romance
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FTC Disclosure: I received this book for free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
BRINGING DOWN THE DUKE Review
Evie Dunmore’s debut novel Bringing Down the Duke is a wildly entertaining historical romance with a feminist twist. Set in England during the late 19th century, it follows protagonist Annabelle Archer. Annabelle is a brilliant young woman who has been accepted into the first class of female students to attend the prestigious University of Oxford. Annabelle, the daughter of a country vicar, comes from a poor family, however, and can only afford to attend the university because she was awarded a scholarship.
To keep her scholarship, Annabelle must meet a few requirements, one of which being that she must play an active role in the up and coming women’s suffrage movement. She begins attending meetings and learns that the primary strategy for the movement is to start recruiting men of influence who are willing to support their cause. Annabelle is assigned perhaps the most challenging target of them all, Sebastian Devereux, the Duke of Montgomery. Sebastian is politically opposed to everything the suffragists are fighting for. He also serves at the Queen’s command, and the Queen is also opposed to the suffrage movement. Trying to change the Duke’s mind is a daunting task, but Annabelle thinks she is up for the challenge…as long as she can ignore the growing attraction she feels for him.
Annabelle is not the only one fighting this attraction, however. As Annabelle spends more and more time with the Duke, he finds himself more and more interested in her as well. The problem: she is well below his social status and a relationship between them would be considered scandalous and could quite possibly cost him his legacy.
All’s fair in love and politics, but the question is which will win out in the end? Can Annabelle get the Duke on her side? Is the Duke willing to possibly give up everything to claim Annabelle as his love?
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I truly adored Bringing Down the Duke. I loved the chemistry between the fiercely independent Annabelle and the stuffy Duke of Montgomery. The evolution of their relationship not only felt authentic, it was also just flat out sexy! It was fun watching the cold and calculating Duke thaw toward Annabelle as he got to know her better.
I also really liked that the story was presented from both of their perspectives. I liked being in both of their heads as they’re trying to fight their mutual attraction. Seeing those internal struggles play out added so much depth to the story.
As much as I enjoyed the romantic angle of the story, I also very much enjoyed the exploration of 19th century England. The author also does a brilliant job of capturing the social and political climate of that time as well as the opposition to suffrage movement. The author does a very nice job of balancing the politics and the romance, which makes the story move along at a nice clip. I was able to finish it easily in two sittings because I was so invested in seeing what would happen between Annabelle and the Duke and if the suffragettes would get what they wanted.
All in all, I was completely delighted by Bringing Down the Duke and would highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys reading about feminism and to fans of historical romances. You won’t be disappointed! For a little taste of what to expect, the publisher has very kindly provided an excerpt from Bringing Down the Duke, which I have posted below.
A stunning debut for author Evie Dunmore and her Oxford Rebels, in which a fiercely independent vicar’s daughter takes on a duke in a fiery love story that threatens to upend the British social order.
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….