cover image The Duke Goes Down

The Duke Goes Down

Sophie Jordan. Avon, $7.99 mass market (352p) ISBN 978-0-06-303563-8

Jordan (Rogue Effect) launches the Duke Hunt Victorian romance series with an enticing premise and a dashing hero who suffers from an ill-matched eventual partner. When it’s discovered that Peregrine Butler’s parents married after his birth, making him illegitimate, Perry is stripped of the title of Duke of Penning. Forced to move out of his ancestral manor as a gentleman with no title and no income, he returns to his hometown of Shropshire in the hopes of marrying well. But the local vicar’s daughter, Imogen Bates, has different plans for Perry. She’s holding on to a 10-year-old grudge after overhearing a wildly unkind discussion of her flaws between Perry and his mates when they were teenagers. Ruining his prospects feels like satisfactory revenge—until both she and Perry realize that their mutual animosity hides a passion worth exploring. Readers will wish for a deeper focus on how Perry’s sudden loss of title changes him for the better and will long to see a softer side of judgmental Imogen, who takes her revenge pretty far. Die-hard fans of the enemies-to-lovers trope may forgive this flawed couple, but others will hope for greater compatibility in future installments. Agent: Maura Kye-Casella, Don Congdon Assoc. (July)