cover image Say No to the Duke (The Wildes of Lindow Castle #4)

Say No to the Duke (The Wildes of Lindow Castle #4)

Eloisa James. Avon, $26.99 (288p) ISBN 978-0-06-291295-4

James’s fourth visit to the Wildes of Lindow Castle (after Born to be Wilde) struggles to incorporate mental illness, social stigma, and trauma into a fluffy Regency romance. Lady Boadicea “Betsy” Wilde’s reputation is tainted through no fault of her own: she’s believed to have inherited her mother’s debauched and licentious nature. To compensate, Betsy transforms herself into a model of propriety. An engagement to the future Duke of Eversley should be the culmination of her efforts—until her brother’s best friend, Lord Jeremy Roden, interrupts her conquest. Jeremy, devastated by his wartime service, endured a stint in Bedlam that only made things worse. Little alleviates his depression until Betsy proposes a bet over a game of billiards: if she wins, Jeremy will escort her on a daring, disguised journey around London; if he wins, he gets one night in bed with her. Even after their tryst turns into love, the demons of the past make a happy future seem impossible. James creates blistering chemistry between her protagonists, but her light tone betrays the deeper, complex issues of trauma and shame that her characters are forced to face. By not integrating the romantic plot line and the journey of psychological recovery, this story falls short of its ambitions. Agent: Kim Witherspoon, Inkwell Management. (July)