cover image Say Yes to the Duke

Say Yes to the Duke

Eloisa James. Avon, $7.99 mass market (400p) ISBN 978-0-06-287806-9

James delivers all the banter and sizzle her fans expect in the nuanced fifth Wildes of Lindow Castle Georgian romance (after Say No to the Duke). Viola Astley, stepdaughter to Hugo Wilde, Duke of Lindow, is painfully shy in company due partly to her insecurity that she will never measure up to her vivacious stepfamily. But her crush on her family’s new vicar has her determined to come out of her shell for her first London season. Meanwhile, the reclusive Devin Elstan, Duke of Wynter, feels obligated to find a wife and plans to approach Viola’s stepsister at their joint coming out ball. In the standout scene of Viola and Devin’s first meeting, Devin retreats from the festivities for the library, where Viola has arranged a clandestine meeting with her vicar. She overhears him insulting her to his uncle, dismissing her as “not a real Wilde.” Her indignation frees her from her shyness, allowing her to display a biting wit and surprising backbone when she confronts him, leading Devin to fall hard and fast. The relish taken with their early sparring and scintillating courtship sadly disappears in the inevitable third-act misunderstanding, which is sloppily rendered and unbelievable. Despite the bungled finale, the couple’s chemistry is undeniable and James’s dialogue is skillful as ever. Series readers will be pleased. Agent: Kim Witherspoon, Inkwell Management. (May)