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Bringing Down the Duke

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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 o/>England, 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....


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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 o/>England, 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....

30 review for Bringing Down the Duke

  1. 4 out of 5

    Hollis

    And another debut author smashes it out of the park in 2019! "It is becoming clear to be me why a fair girl like you has been left on the shelf. You are not only bookish but a radical political activist. All highly impractical in a wife." BRINGING DOWN THE DUKE was just.. pure fun? Deliciously swoony? Just the right amount of angst? There came a time in a duke's life when he rarely encountered an honest opinion, where he could be on his way to hell in a handcart and everyone would po/>There/>"It And another debut author smashes it out of the park in 2019! "It is becoming clear to be me why a fair girl like you has been left on the shelf. You are not only bookish but a radical political activist. All highly impractical in a wife." BRINGING DOWN THE DUKE was just.. pure fun? Deliciously swoony? Just the right amount of angst? There came a time in a duke's life when he rarely encountered an honest opinion, where he could be on his way to hell in a handcart and everyone would politely step aside and wish him godspeed. You might find yourself looking at this plot summary and thinking, sure sure, read that HR a thousand times. Bluestocking attracts a Duke? Nothing new. And yeah okay maybe. But that doesn't mean this isn’t worth your time. "Have you by any chance missed that class at finishing school where they teach you to feign delightful ignorance in the presence of a man?" "I’m afraid so." These characters all but leap off the page. The attraction, the chemistry, the sizzle is.. damn. Their backstory has elements of drama but are never overblown, or overwrought, and come out in the open naturally without being held onto until the last minute. Every up and down, back and forth, push and pull, was so.. organic? And also, strangely, refreshing. Additionally the side characters, the bluestocking suffragettes, were just fabulous. All of them. Hattie might have been my favourite. "Did you really give a man a nosebleed?" "Yes." "Why?" "I suppose because the village lads I ran with as a girl didn't teach me how to slap like a lady." The specifics of the setting, that this takes place during the opening of the first women's college, and focuses mostly on women's rights, feminism, and the injustice of the sexes, I mean.. there's never a wrong time to tackle those issues but right now it feels so so timely. And how sad is that; this book is set in 1879 and here we are.. still fighting. She had never really known her place. Where others were appropriately intimidated, she seemed oddly intrigued by the challenge. This debut is so strong and so clever. The cover might make it seem that this is all lighthearted joy and hijinks but don't be fooled. This is a love story between people who have their eyes wide open. Who are sensible, and logical, and intelligent. Who know the implausibilities of a union between them and fight it because they know better. Which makes that tension even more delicious. And yes, sure, there is still fun to be had. "Would you have me change my place in history to prove how much I want you?" BRINGING DOWN THE DUKE is compulsively readable and a delight to devour; I finished this in a shockingly small handful of hours which, considering my slumpy month, is a miracle. And I'm ecstatic to see that not only are we guaranteed more from this debut author, but we're getting more from this series and set of characters. I'm going to be clamouring for more A League of Extraordinary Women books and likely seriously regretting my decision to read this early because now the wait will feel even longer than just a year. 4.5 stars ** I received an ARC from the publisher (thank you!) in exchange for an honest review. ** --- This review can also be found at A Take From Two Cities.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Paromjit

    Evie Dunmore writes a smart historical romance set in the Victorian era that takes place amidst the suffragette campaign for women's rights by getting parliament to amend the married women's property act. There is implacable opposition to this from all corners, not just from men alone but other women too, and including the Tory party and Queen Victoria. It is 1879, and the over educated, beautiful but destitute 25 year old Annabelle, inveigles her way to study amongst the first group of women at Evie Dunmore writes a smart historical romance set in the Victorian era that takes place amidst the suffragette campaign for women's rights by getting parliament to amend the married women's property act. There is implacable opposition to this from all corners, not just from men alone but other women too, and including the Tory party and Queen Victoria. It is 1879, and the over educated, beautiful but destitute 25 year old Annabelle, inveigles her way to study amongst the first group of women at Oxford University after gaining a modest scholarship, for which she must support the radical political suffragettes led by Lady Lucie Tedbury, and their campaign to recruit powerful men of influence to champion their cause. Annabelle has the task of recruiting one of the most powerful men in the land, the Duke of Montgomery, Sebastian Devereux, a cold hard man whose home Annabelle, and her two fellow bluestockings, Hattie and Catriona, manage to infiltrate. Things do not go to plan as Annabelle becomes ill and a surprisingly strong attraction between the two of them grows . However, after an affair gone wrong in the past, Annabelle is distinctly wary, determined not to repeat her errors of judgement. Montgomery himself is taken aback by his feelings for Annabelle but he has his future mapped out with the possibility of finally attaining what he has always wanted. Additionally, his hands are full with a troublesome brother, Peregrin, a meddling Queen, and organising a political campaign to ensure the Tories win the next election. This is a time where the upper classes in England used marriage as a tool to secure alliances that enriched them further in the acquisition of more land, money and power. Marriage to Annabelle, a country girl of no consequence would cause a scandal of earth shattering proportions that Montgomery cannot afford. Other possible arrangements for their love are stymied by an Annabelle unwilling to ruin her life, her reputation, or lose her self respect. Dunmore writes a fun and highly entertaining historical novel that takes account of some serious issues of the day regarding the fight for women's rights, outlining just how much it cost women to fight the ruthless forces arraigned against them, many finding themselves imprisoned, their reputations in tatters, not to mention having their educational opportunities taken away. The characterisation is done well with the smart charismatic Annabelle and Sebastian's character development shifting him fundamentally from the person he was at the beginning to who he becomes by the end. This a a novel that I enjoyed reading far more than I expected to, and would recommend to others. It's the first of a series, and I look forward to the next one. Many thanks to Little, Brown for an ARC.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer ~ TarHeelReader

    Somehow this cover brought to mind a rom com, but that is not what unfolds within these pages. Instead, it’s a clever historical romance, one like nothing I’ve read before, though I admit I am not a frequent historical romance reader. In late 19th century England, Annabelle Archer is the daughter of a country vicar, now penniless. Annabelle has joined the first class of female students at the University of Oxford. Her scholarship has a price, though, and a worthy one: she must advocat Somehow this cover brought to mind a rom com, but that is not what unfolds within these pages. Instead, it’s a clever historical romance, one like nothing I’ve read before, though I admit I am not a frequent historical romance reader. In late 19th century England, Annabelle Archer is the daughter of a country vicar, now penniless. Annabelle has joined the first class of female students at the University of Oxford. Her scholarship has a price, though, and a worthy one: she must advocate for women’s suffrage. She’s been told she must recruit men to support the cause, and in her sights is the Duke of Montgomery, Sebastian Devereux. Oh, and the Duke happens to be her political polar opposite, and handsome. So very handsome. At the same time, Sebastian is finding Annabelle’s green eyes irresistible; however, she’s a commoner and not fit to be his duchess. Even though this wasn’t a rom com, there were still funny moments. There were also some emotional times. I found the romance between Sebastian and Annabelle to feel authentic. The women’s suffrage movement during the Victorian era was a fascinating backdrop. Overall, Bringing Down the Duke surprised me with its heart, and I look forward to the next in the series. I received a complimentary copy. All opinions are my own. Many of my reviews can also be found on my blog: www.jennifertarheelreader.com

  4. 5 out of 5

    Melanie A.

    ***A 2019 Top Pick*** 5+ STARS!!! His kisses had lifted a loneliness off her she hadn't even known she carried. SOOOOOOOO wonderful! After a bit of rocky start, I fell head over heels in love with Annabelle and Sebastian. Congratulations to Evie Dunmore . . .the writing was incredible, the characters had so much depth, and talk about feeling the story: this was impossible love at its best! And I adored how the story was woven into the political fabric of Victorian England. Audio: 4 STARS! So I almost regret listening to this one/>Audio:/>5+***A ***A 2019 Top Pick*** 5+ STARS!!! His kisses had lifted a loneliness off her she hadn't even known she carried. SOOOOOOOO wonderful! After a bit of rocky start, I fell head over heels in love with Annabelle and Sebastian. Congratulations to Evie Dunmore . . .the writing was incredible, the characters had so much depth, and talk about feeling the story: this was impossible love at its best! And I adored how the story was woven into the political fabric of Victorian England. Audio: 4 STARS! So I almost regret listening to this one instead of reading it because I have no notes or highlights. :( I have every intention of doing an immediate re-read though, from the physical copy I'll be buying this weekend! It was really that good! Hopefully I'll write a proper review after that. :-)

  5. 5 out of 5

    Corina

    Bringing Down the Duke is a debut novel with lots of potential. The book had some of my favorite aspects and it also played during a time, the late 1800s, which isn't often portrait in historical romance novels. Most stories are set during Regency England between 1811 and 1820. This novel plays during the time of suffragettes, when women were being allowed at college and during the time of winning voting rights for females. It was certainly an exciting time. With many strong and forward thinking Bringing Down the Duke is a debut novel with lots of potential. The book had some of my favorite aspects and it also played during a time, the late 1800s, which isn't often portrait in historical romance novels. Most stories are set during Regency England between 1811 and 1820. This novel plays during the time of suffragettes, when women were being allowed at college and during the time of winning voting rights for females. It was certainly an exciting time. With many strong and forward thinking women. I really enjoyed the different era. The author kept the information about that particular time well balanced. And I applaud her for writing about a not so overly covered period of time. Although not everything resonated with me the way I hoped it would. Nevertheless I really enjoyed the way the author portrayed that specific epoch of time. I think what was crucial for me was that even though I love modern and trail-blazing heroines, I didn't feel that Annabelle was extraordinary for her time, not like the series promised.  Moreover if it boils down to her fears, they were pretty much the same as any other woman in historical times, scandal, getting pregnant out of wedlock, being shunned, having to marry without love, and ending up as a mistress. I expected something different. But, I'm not saying it wasn't a great novel. I just wasn't wowed by it. Nevertheless, the writing was great. The story flowed and it easily engaged, I just didn't love it. But above all else I love seeing debut authors write about an era that is not as overly used as Regency England is. And a new and different voice to a popular genre is always welcome. Especially if I can see this author going far. Because this author is one that I'll be watching. ARC generously provided in exchange for an honest review.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Christina ~ Brunette Reader

    London, 1879 Handing a leaflet. Speaking few and incisive words. "One: identify a man of influence. Two: approach him firmly, but with a smile. Three: remember they can sense if you are afraid, but they are usually more afraid of you." How difficult can it be? Miss Annabelle Archer thinks. Instilling the rightness of the cause into the minds and consciences of that handful of men who could truly help breaking the other half of the population’s second class citizenship status quo. Inspiring in them even justwords. London, 1879 Handing a leaflet. Speaking few and incisive words. "One: identify a man of influence. Two: approach him firmly, but with a smile. Three: remember they can sense if you are afraid, but they are usually more afraid of you." How difficult can it be? Miss Annabelle Archer thinks. Instilling the rightness of the cause into the minds and consciences of that handful of men who could truly help breaking the other half of the population’s second class citizenship status quo. Inspiring in them even just a kernel of that same passion for evolving, improving, changing that has led and sustained her during these difficult first months in Oxford. At 25, the offer of a stipend at Lady Margaret Hall, the first college recently allowing female students to attend, has been the miraculous, and last, opportunity to flee a life of frustration as an unpaid poor relation drudging her days away in her cousin’s house in Kent. Once rid of such confining environment and able to resume the literary and classical studies her father had introduced her to, joining the National Society for Women’s Suffrage has been the logical continuation in her quest for independence and a fruitful way to return her scholarship. "No decent woman would talk to a stranger in the street, certainly not while brandishing pamphlets that boldly declared The Married Women’s Property Act makes a slave of every wife!" Yet, here she is, in front of Westminster on a chilly October day, her first suffrage meeting, a cold mist dulling Parliament Square. And then the ideal target in sight, whoever he may be, "the kind who had his confidence bred into his bones, who oozed entitlement from the self-assured way he held himself to his perfectly straight aristo nose," and she the only activist among the ones in her group having the courage, or the foolishness, to accost him. The brief exchange has come to naught, of course, the icy façade he’s presented her has been answer enough, tough an instant sort of awareness has sparkled between them, "bright and disturbing like an electric current." And oh, he has been staring at her mouth. "No matter their position in the world, they all liked her mouth." Well, a duke no less, but he’s never going to be one of their political allies, so no use in keep glancing back in the direction his carriage has gone off... "The woman had had the softest, most inviting lips he’d seen on this side of the channel. [...] But what was more remarkable was that she had looked him straight in the eye. Sebastian Devereux, nineteenth Duke of Montgomery, has no time for brash suffragists. A protagonists of Britain’s politics and at only 35 one of the most powerful peers of the realm, with an unruly younger brother to manage, a scandalous divorce in his near past, the ancestral ducal seat to regain and now the Queen appointing him chief strategic advisor for the Tory party in the upcoming elections his life is already complicated as it is and, though not opposed on principle, adding support to women’s rights campaign on his agenda is out of the question. After all, it’s not as if he’s going to run into “Green Eyes” ever again... But things are destined to change when a shift in the course of action on the suffragists’ front brings these two rivals at close quarters. She might not exactly like him. But she very, very much wanted to make sense of him. [...] and he didn’t even feel inclined to question why a most unsuitable woman—a commoner, a bluestocking, a suffragist—would give him so much pleasure. Though if it is as they say that the personal is also a little bit political and vice versa, in this case a battle of wills, wits, hearts and souls is inevitable, or to put it in Annabelle’s own words: “Perhaps this is not a question of staying out of trouble, Your Grace. Perhaps this is about deciding on which side of history you want to be.” And a question of whether love or reason will prevail... or even better, a rare compromise between both... Debuting Ms. Dunmore has penned a winner, written with flair and suavity, presenting a smooth and evocative prose. A deliciously romantic story firmly grounded in the late Victorian setting, but posing some timeless questions about love against duty and honour or about reputation and safety against freedom and passion, questions that transcend the historical declinations and contingencies while making the tangible inner struggles of the characters deeply resonate. Not only it had all the "ingredients" I usually adore in a romance book, from the exquisite slow-burn tension to the accurately rendered and smoothly interwoven era bits and manners, but what impressed me the most was how skilfully balanced everything felt, to the point that if I hadn’t previously known this was the author’s first work, I would have ascribed it to a much more seasoned hand. There was humour and wit without descending into a lighter read. It was character-driven and often acutely introspective without being meandering, well-researched and slightly intellectual without being pedantic, tender and sweet without being cloying. There was a finely calibrated intensity that never lapsed into self-indulgent drama and an underlying opposites attract scenario able to go beyond the well-worn trope while renewing it through an intelligent and rounded leading couple. Annabelle and Sebastian are not the predictable pair, so common in the genre, composed by the smart-mouthed, anachronistically liberated heroine and the uppity nobleman with a hidden wild side, no, there was instead an authenticity to them which stemmed from the layered, nuanced and vibrant characterisations, so consistently immersed in the historical setting that each of their moves and skirting around also became a sort of social tableau on the customs and mores of their times. They act, think and behave like late Victorian people without becoming stale stereotypes and preserving their own unique personalities, and the realistic hurdles on the path of their relationship, when contemplating such vast class difference in those days, are not magically brushed aside but, on the contrary, cleverly turned into pivotal issues and plot-points. If Annabelle is portrayed as convincingly relatable, in her strengths and fragilities, smart and dignified in her beliefs and fights, I found that this book was mainly Sebastian’s journey and watching him finally come to terms with his inner "sentimental" self was sheer joy, as far as romances go. This strongly driven and complex man, with a cold and severe poise (and how much of it is just that, poise?), starts to gradually reconsider every aspect of his life and his outlook on his role and duties, with the same thoroughness he dedicates to political battles. Thanks to this compelling and passionate woman questioning him every step of the way, who challenges and infuriates him... and who probably makes him yearn for "more" for the first time in his privileged but somehow confining and inhibited existence. Once freed there’s no turning back, his love for her becomes vital and reverberates in his every action and word. All the above is held together by a subtle and bittersweet undercurrent of longing... for what it is, for what it might be... expressing in all the conversations, the gestures, the sensuality, the delicate love scenes, the barely restrained emotions, the careful flirtations, and oh so fitting the mood of two completely different realities coming face-to-face, like those of commoner early-feminist Annabelle and noblesse oblige conservative Sebastian, that have to decide which direction their own private world will have to take while the outer one glares disapprovingly. Their choices, torn between need and responsibility, will accompany the story to the hard-earned happy resolution, which felt even more romantic, poignant and satisfying as it was based in the realm of true-to-life, substantial possibilities.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Holly

    What a pleasant surprise! This book has quite a lot going for it - an unlikely romance that develops in a very believable way, a focus on the suffragette movement, and strong characters. I can't believe this is the author's debut book! I *absolutely* will be reading her next book! Very much recommended!

  8. 5 out of 5

    Astrid - The Bookish Sweet Tooth

    TITLE: BRINGING DOWN THE DUKE AUTHOR: Evie Dunmore SERIES: A League of Extraordinary Women #1 RELEASE DATE: September 3, 2019 GENRE: Historical Romance THEMES & TROPES: Enemies to lovers, women's emancipation RATING: ALL OF THEM! CLIFFHANGER: No READ MY REVIEW ON THE BLOG emancipationRomanceTHEMES2019GENRE:#1RELEASEDunmoreDUKE TITLE: BRINGING DOWN THE DUKE AUTHOR: Evie Dunmore SERIES: A League of Extraordinary Women #1 RELEASE DATE: September 3, 2019 GENRE: Historical Romance THEMES & TROPES: Enemies to lovers, women's emancipation RATING: ALL OF THEM! CLIFFHANGER: No READ MY REVIEW ON THE BLOG I'm a huge fan of Judith McNaught's historical romance. Why I'm mentioning that? Because this author's debut, BRINGING DOWN THE DUKE, transports me back to a time when I was devouring the novels by McNaught. While Evie Dunmore's writing style is more modern in parts which makes this story extremely readable, I'm not complaining, mind you, because this author's words wrapped themselves around my heart. However, the story, this deliciously angst-filled plot, the yearning, the complex characters so reminded me of McNaught's. I think that's one of the biggest compliments I can give an author. Evie Dunmore shows us how far women have come, how women fought for what we consider normal and rightfully ours. This alone makes it this book worth reading and will give you a new appreciation of the women's role in society today. Spun around this setting is an epic love story between a commoner and a duke, both very aware of their position in society. Sebastian is right a jerk when this starts off but man, did I fall in love. I fell so hard. He is honorable, considerate, more than he let on when we first meet him, arrogant, high-handed, controlled and incredibly private and emotionally stunted. It was a thing of beauty to watch him turn from this seemingly cold-hearted bastard into a man, who felt deeper than anyone would have ever expected he was capable of. What a complex, infuriating, protective, wonderful man he was. Something tore inside his chest, something vital, and briefly, he wondered if a man could die from it. The pain all but took his breath away. What a way to find out he did have a heart. Annabelle is everything Sebastian needs but can't have. She was just as beautiful a character with her backbone of steel, intelligence, sophistication and unshakable loyalty. She refused to be the duke's mistress because she had a sense of self worth and knew that even though Sebastian would treat her well, society wouldn't. She knew the feeling of being a pariah, she didn't want to repeat mistakes she'd made before. While my heart hurt for them both I could understand her standpoint. He does have a heart, you see, a restrained, honorable heart, but it bruises just like yours and mine, and I wager it is a hundred times more steadfast. He is a rare man, not because he is wealthy, or powerful, but because he says what he means and does what he says. Their attraction was so palpable, so passionate and there were times I wanted to smoosh their faces together and tell them to get it over with. There was so much tension between them, the impossibility of their love made this story heartwrenching. She belonged here, right here wrapped in these strong, nonjudgmental, protective arms, and she wasn’t sure where to begin again without him. Supporting these two are equally strong women, who I suspect will get their own stories. This is a well researched, fascinating romance with characters that make you think even after leaving them to their happily ever after. And what a HEA it was. How can I not fall back into a slump after BRINGING DOWN HE DUKE? Ugh!  The story is flawless and flows without hiccups. And I can't praise the beautiful words enough. Evie Dunmore shows other authors how debuts are done. I loved every minute spent with Sebastian and Annabelle. “Darling,” he said, “I have only just begun to love you.”

  9. 4 out of 5

    Samm | Sassenach the Book Wizard

    Today I learnt: Find yo self a rich feminist with daddy issues. But for real, I read this in one sitting and stayed up until 2:30 am to finish it. And now I'm in this place of hell where I have to wait a year for the next book. This is what happens when your pre-order comes early and you have no self control so you read it right away. I just loved the characters and Annabelle having a background of not being like this pure virginal angel. I felt so bad for her near the end Today I learnt: Find yo self a rich feminist with daddy issues. But for real, I read this in one sitting and stayed up until 2:30 am to finish it. And now I'm in this place of hell where I have to wait a year for the next book. This is what happens when your pre-order comes early and you have no self control so you read it right away. I just loved the characters and Annabelle having a background of not being like this pure virginal angel. I felt so bad for her near the end when crap just picked up nonstop to screw her over. I cannot wait for the next book with Lucie! She continuously peaked my interests in every scene she was in. I'm wondering if we'll get a book about Sebastien's brother now too. He could be a fantastic hotmess POV.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Book of the Month

    Why I love it by Siobhan Jones When I started at BOTM, I was a professed literary snob—and probably flaunted that term with pride (queue eye roll). I never read romance books because I assumed they were too cheesy and poorly written to be considered worthy of my time. Years later, dozens of romance books devoured, I’m so happy to report that, on that score, I was wrong. Set in turn-of-the-century England, this is the story of Annabelle Archer, a plucky woman with the o Why I love it by Siobhan Jones When I started at BOTM, I was a professed literary snob—and probably flaunted that term with pride (queue eye roll). I never read romance books because I assumed they were too cheesy and poorly written to be considered worthy of my time. Years later, dozens of romance books devoured, I’m so happy to report that, on that score, I was wrong. Set in turn-of-the-century England, this is the story of Annabelle Archer, a plucky woman with the opportunity to become one of the first female graduates at the prestigious University of Oxford. Upon entering college, she becomes an advocate for the women’s suffrage movement, which is how she first encounters the Duke of Montgomery—an influential, ill-tempered political adversary whom she must convince into becoming an ally. A clash of two strong-willed, sharp-tongued enemies? Sounds hot ;) Bringing Down the Duke gives us the best that the romance genre has to offer: light-hearted fun, steamy sex scenes, and lots of brooding, read-between-the-lines dialogue. It also serves up a few additionally tasty accoutrements, including royals, a heroine with a feminist agenda (Suffragism! Get involved, people), and witty repartee that make for a very entertaining read. FYI, this is not a book that takes itself seriously—but I think you’ll agree the result is serious fun. Cheers! Read more at: https://bookofthemonth.com/bringing-d...

  11. 5 out of 5

    Christie«SHBBblogger»

    Title: Bringing Down The Duke Series: A League of Extraordinary Women #1 Author: Evie Dunmore Release date: September 3, 2019 Cliffhanger: No Genre: historical romance Perhaps, her father should have made her read “Sleeping Beauty” instead of The Iliad—her life might have turned out quite differently. There's been a lot of early hype for this book, and I'm here to say that every bit of it has been earned. I've read a lot of historical romances with strong heroines who overcome the obstacles and restrictions put on them. What I genuinely don't think I've read is a heroine who joins the women'sromancePerhaps,No2019DunmoreRelease#1 Title: Bringing Down The Duke Series: A League of Extraordinary Women #1 Author: Evie Dunmore Release date: September 3, 2019 Cliffhanger: No Genre: historical romance Perhaps, her father should have made her read “Sleeping Beauty” instead of The Iliad—her life might have turned out quite differently. There's been a lot of early hype for this book, and I'm here to say that every bit of it has been earned. I've read a lot of historical romances with strong heroines who overcome the obstacles and restrictions put on them. What I genuinely don't think I've read is a heroine who joins the women's suffrage movement, and that was a big drawing point for me. I was really intrigued to read about how the author would portray the group of women, the public's perception of them, and the challenges they faced. I loved the fact that Annabelle is one of the first female students of Oxford. That she dared to dream of a higher education during a time when the social class you were born into and your gender dictated what your lot in life would be. Aristocrats were society's darlings simply due to their lineage, and favored even more when they didn't have to work. Not only did Annabelle come from an impoverished family, but as a woman, that narrowed her options to thrive down to almost zilch. Despite all this, she was able to finagle permission from her cousin to attend Oxford with the promise that she would pay him a sum of money regularly that she had no idea how to come up with. She doesn't let this sway her, because she's willing to work day and night, study, and attend her required suffragette meetings for her scholarship money just for a place to call her own. She doesn't want to live the dead-end existence she's been living out in the country, so she sets out to do something about it. Annabelle is pretty much perceived as a crazy liberal for even suggesting that women have the brain capacity to make voting decisions and control their own fortunes. An insane thought in our current times, but back then women moved from their parents' household to their own and never held any sort of power over their own lives. Sebastian Devereux, thirteenth Duke of Montgomery, is quite the snobbish, coldly aloof hero at the start. He rules over his vast estates without much joy, but he's forced himself to excel at it after his wastrel father gambled them into ruins. His younger brother Peregrin is managed by him with an iron fist, so much so that their relationship is mainly intimidation and demands. Sebastian is a favorite of the queen, and has traditionalist political leanings. As the newly appointed advisor to the Tory election campaign, he's fighting for one purpose only: his family's property back that was lost by his father in a card game. Out of family loyalty and obligation, he's been struggling for years to somehow buy it back from the queen's nephew with no luck. This seems to be the chance of a lifetime, if he can only sway the political field in the direction the queen desires. The only problem is, that direction directly conflicts with everything Annabelle has been fighting for. When Annabelle's group schemes their way into an invitation to Sebastian and Peregrin's home, she had no idea that she's about to rattle his foundation and leave him faltering on shaky ground. Reluctantly impressed by her direct gaze and unique fearlessness, he develops an unwanted curiosity that continues to grow with each meeting. The concept of having a romantic relationship with a woman so far below him in social class is beyond inconceivable. It would be laughable to even think of it. That may be horrible for him to feel that way, but I like that the author didn't shy away from presenting the reality of the social climate. But besides that is the fact that her political goals are on the opposite side of the playing field. He'd lose all respect and become a laughingstock by his peers at even a hint that he was with her. Everything that was finally almost in his grasp would be lost forever. Something in his chest responded, a sudden bloom of warmth in the cold. He swallowed. He hadn’t drunk in near two decades, but this was not unlike the heated sensation of Scotch burning down his throat. Could one become drunk on the presence of a woman? So obviously, there's a lot of push and pull between these characters. Sebastian tries to pursue and seduce, Annabelle resists harder than possibly any other character I've seen. The angst....it was absolutely delicious. I felt his internal battle over his need for her, and his sense of responsibility to expectations. Annabelle has already been burned very badly by another lord, and she isn't willing to compromise an inch. They had an amazing chemistry between them the more they fought it. Possessiveness, protectiveness, and admiration sparked and caught fire, but they were stuck in a battle of wills unable to move forward. Even though I wanted to slap him more than a time or two, you could see the depth of emotion and passion he had for her. In the end, he fought, and he made sacrifices the way he needed to in order to show her that she was the most important thing in the world to him. His lips brushed against her ear. “These wild depths in you, they call to me,” he murmured. This book was completely addictive. The love they had for each other was grew against all odds, and you truly felt that these two were meant to be. Bringing Down the Duke was so good that it forced me to compulsively race through the entire thing in less than twenty-four hours with butterflies in my chest, hearts in my eyes...it was the total package. I ravenously CONSUMED this author's writing style, and her brilliant talent for storytelling. To say that I'm excited for the next story in the League of Extraordinary Women series is a huge understatement. I need the follow up in my greedy hands yesterday. You can officially call me a loyal fan after reading this sparkling debut-it's just that simple. Get in on this series from the start, this is a new author you need to acquaint yourself with. FOLLOW SMOKIN HOT BOOK BLOG ON:

  12. 5 out of 5

    Toni

    Set in England, 1879, Bringing Down the Duke is an unusual historical romance. The main character, Annabelle Archer is a daughter of an impoverished country clergyman, but she is also among the first group of female students at Oxford University and is a political activist of the suffragette movement. Her task is to recruit men of power and influence to their cause and this is how she meets Sebastian Devereaux, the Duke of Montgomery, her political opposite. There is a strong attraction between Set in England, 1879, Bringing Down the Duke is an unusual historical romance. The main character, Annabelle Archer is a daughter of an impoverished country clergyman, but she is also among the first group of female students at Oxford University and is a political activist of the suffragette movement. Her task is to recruit men of power and influence to their cause and this is how she meets Sebastian Devereaux, the Duke of Montgomery, her political opposite. There is a strong attraction between these two smart and strong-willed characters. However, Sebastian is aware that the bride he needs in order to secure a better position in society is somebody with money, social status and connections, somebody who is very different from the nearly destitute country girl he is developing feelings for. The novel is very engaging and highly entertaining. I am always interested in strong female characters ( the whole series is entitled: A League of Extraordinary women) and the fact that the story is set against the backdrop of the fight for the rights of women just made it more fascinating for me. Will be looking forward to the next title in this promising new series. Thank you to Edelweiss and Berkley for the ARC provided in exchange for an honest opinion.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Katie B

    3.5 stars I rarely read historical romances so it was nice to switch things up for a change. I did love how the author incorporated the women's suffrage movement in England into the storyline. I also thought the two lead characters had good chemistry together which is my main requirement in a romance novel. The year is 1879 and Annabelle Archer has just been accepted into the University of Oxford. A pretty big deal considering she will be among the first group of female students ever 3.5 stars I rarely read historical romances so it was nice to switch things up for a change. I did love how the author incorporated the women's suffrage movement in England into the storyline. I also thought the two lead characters had good chemistry together which is my main requirement in a romance novel. The year is 1879 and Annabelle Archer has just been accepted into the University of Oxford. A pretty big deal considering she will be among the first group of female students ever to attend the prestigious school. She is part of the women's suffrage movement and a key mission of the group is to recruit men of important stature to help with the cause. Annabelle has been tasked with persuading the Duke of Montogomery, Sebastian Devereoux, to go against the queen and lend support to the suffrage group. As if this wasn't going to be challenging enough, Sebastian also doesn't seem to think very highly of Annabelle. Or does he? Given I typically read only contemporary romances, I have to say I really enjoyed how the time period enhanced the story as it provided even more obstacles for the two to overcome on their way to romance. Without getting into spoilers I do like how the author addressed the differences in their social classes and how that would have been a huge issue back in Victorian England. While I definitely enjoyed the romance elements of the story I did like how it feel like I was getting some history bits thrown in there as an added bonus. One of my small criticisms of the story is I felt the ending was rushed. Some more development there would have been greatly appreciated. Overall, a good romance that I feel comfortable recommending to anyone who loves the genre.

  14. 5 out of 5

    WhiskeyintheJar/Kyraryker

    3.7 stars I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review. In 1870s Victorian England, Annabelle didn't have a lot options when her father dies and is forced to live with her cousin who treats her like help he doesn't have to pay. When a former friend of her father and professor from Oxford who she has been corresponding with offers a scholarship to their women's college, she works out a 3.7 stars I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review. In 1870s Victorian England, Annabelle didn't have a lot options when her father dies and is forced to live with her cousin who treats her like help he doesn't have to pay. When a former friend of her father and professor from Oxford who she has been corresponding with offers a scholarship to their women's college, she works out a plan to attend. There she joins up with the National Society for Women's Suffrage, makes friends, see's a pathway to gaining any smidgen of freedom, and meets a Duke. Having to take over the Dukedom at the age of nineteen, that his father did his best to gamble away, Sebastian has always felt the heavy weight of responsibility. The Queen has personally asked him to be strategic advisory for the Tory party and he never shirks his duties. When a suffragette boldly approaches him, she definitely catches his attention. In a time where societal strictures are felt everywhere, Annabelle and Sebastian are going to have to decide what consequences they're willing to face to follow their hearts. “Fortunately, an old spinster from the country should be quite safe from any scandals,” she said brightly, “even at Oxford.” The first in the League of Extraordinary Women series and Evie Dunmore's debut, Bringing Down the Duke was a romantic but grounded historical romance. Annabelle's set-up could be any number of women's story from this time period and the consequences of her wanting to pursue her dreams and snatch any kind of freedom for herself are never far from her mind. Becoming friends with and joining the Suffragettes is dangerous for her but fighting to amend the Married Women's Act and wanting the right to vote is essential to the freedom she craves. I loved how the author kept Annabelle grounded in reality and while this kept the tone from being light and airy, it also gave the character and setting the gravitas it deserved; acknowledging the danger and societal norms they were pushing against only gives more feeling to what these women did. Annabelle was courageous with what seems like a simple act of handing out pamphlets (the author does a fantastic job of differentiating how the consequences were different for commoner Annabelle and her nobility friends) and wisely wary of what a relationship with a Duke would mean for her. This was intimacy, knowing he could look this way. Very few people would ever see him like this, Montgomery the man, not the duke. How she wished he were only a man. Due to Sebastian's background of given such a heavy burden at such a young age, he is more closed off. I would have liked a little more depth to his background to be seen on page, especially regards to his first wife (we get a little more much later on in the story) and more with his younger brother. He's a cool customer and we get glimpses at how strong his heart beats but I think he could have been fleshed out more. Annabelle and Sebastian's relationship is more of a slow burn and given their positions and situations, this fits perfectly. The spark of attraction is there when their eyes meet but they're forced to do more of a reach for and retreat, which creates some great burning for. The very real obstacles of a Duke and a commoner having a relationship provided the angst and I loved how the author handled this with an authenticity that, I personally, feel has been missing from historical romances lately. It is the very reality that make this fairy tale romantic. “Don’t,” he said hoarsely, “don’t throw away what we have just because you cannot have everything.” Secondary characters like Annabelle's friends, Hattie, Lucie, and Catriona, Sebastian's brother Lord Devereux, a wicked Lord Ballentine, and a Queen Victoria, who reminds us not all women are part of the sisterhood, round out the story well. We will obviously see some of these secondary characters again (Lucie the leader of the suffragettes and the rakish Ballentine look to be next up) but the author did a good job giving us just enough to entice and not have them clog or steal from Annabelle and Sebastian's story. She knew then that she would never be able to unsee him again. I thought the first half had some shorter and choppier sentences that broke up some of the flow of the story, background depth was at times missing from the characters, and I thought it took too long to see and feel the heart of Sebastian. However, this felt truly grounded in a historical romance sense and Annabelle's struggles with following her heart, rather due to laws, consequences, or fear, will have you fighting the emotion back. This debut will definitely have me waiting in anticipation of the next in the series.

  15. 5 out of 5

    ♥Rachel♥

    4.5 Stars Bringing Down the Duke was sooo good! There was a delicious push and pull between Annabelle and Sebastian. They started out as enemies with opposing political views, and Sebastian was quite arrogant at first. It was a meeting of minds with intelligent conversation, and an undercurrent of intense attraction! For as much as they were at odds at times, Sebastian was quite the knight-in-shining-armor often coming to the rescue even when it put him at risk. I fell hard for him! 4.5 Stars Bringing Down the Duke was sooo good! There was a delicious push and pull between Annabelle and Sebastian. They started out as enemies with opposing political views, and Sebastian was quite arrogant at first. It was a meeting of minds with intelligent conversation, and an undercurrent of intense attraction! For as much as they were at odds at times, Sebastian was quite the knight-in-shining-armor often coming to the rescue even when it put him at risk. I fell hard for him! Annabelle was a breath of fresh air! The kind of woman I hope I’d be in the face of such obstacles. It really was a tough time for women back then. This was set in a time when women had few rights, really appalling when you think of it. The situation Annabelle found herself in with her cousin was infuriating, and I’m glad he had little to do with the story other than at the beginning. I can’t believe Bringing Down the Duke was a debut novel! While it took me a little bit to sink into the story, I was solidly glued to the pages as soon as I hit the %15 mark I didn’t want to put the story down eager to find out what happened next! I love how everything turned out, and I can’t wait until Lucie’s story next, especially after reading the teaser at the end! A copy was kindly provided by Berkley in exchange for an honest review.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Amy Imogene Reads

    What a fun, fast-paced, and surprisingly modern take on a historical romance! It definitely maintained the best guilty pleasures of the old-school Harlequin tropes, but with a modern mindset that I appreciated. If you're not a historical fiction fan, don't let this novel's premise turn you off—this is one good story. Romance: ★★★★★ Logic: ★★★ Enjoyment: all the stars Set in England in the late 1800s, Bringing Down the Duke follows the two perspectives of Annabelle Archer, a 25-year-old Oxford student try/>/>/> What a fun, fast-paced, and surprisingly modern take on a historical romance! It definitely maintained the best guilty pleasures of the old-school Harlequin tropes, but with a modern mindset that I appreciated. If you're not a historical fiction fan, don't let this novel's premise turn you off—this is one good story. Romance: ★★★★★ Logic: ★★★ Enjoyment: all the stars Set in England in the late 1800s, Bringing Down the Duke follows the two perspectives of Annabelle Archer, a 25-year-old Oxford student trying to thrive in London, and the Duke of Montgomery, a 35-year-old aristocrat with close ties to Queen Victoria. (I mention the age gap as it does influence some readers. I found it tasteful in this case, and very necessary for the plot due to the time period.) Annabelle Archer is thrilled to attend Oxford's new college program for women, and even more thrilled for the scholarship that allows her to leave her small country village for London. There's just one catch: she must be an active member of the suffragist movement—which includes lobbying members of Parliament and inserting herself into the aristocracy's sphere. Sebastian Montgomery is the most influential duke in the realm, and a notoriously cold man. He has no time for the softer things in life—he's too busy trying to secure his dukedom's future and reclaim the ancestral home that his father gambled away. Obviously, these two find their paths cross in a definitive way. Bringing Down the Duke brings a little bit of Pride and Prejudice, a little bit of Jane Eyre, a little bit of Harlequin romance, and a LOT of well-written narrative. My only complaint is that I wish some of the scene-to-scene transitions had been more logical. We went from A to B to D to C, and then in order to follow the romance, we abandoned some of the slow burn fire for immediate attraction...which felt like an abrupt shift.

  17. 4 out of 5

    *The Angry Reader*

    *ARC received for an honest review* I think this is my best ARC this year. Best historical romance. Best new author. And I didn’t expect any of it. First off, the cover is silly and the book is not. What the book is, however, is that rarest of jewels - emotional and passionate whilst remaining sweet and delicious. You’ve read this story a thousand times - uptight dude meets unconventional chick. Strong personalities clash. Aggravation turns to want turns to love. But Dunmore does it with panache. She breathes new *ARC received for an honest review* I think this is my best ARC this year. Best historical romance. Best new author. And I didn’t expect any of it. First off, the cover is silly and the book is not. What the book is, however, is that rarest of jewels - emotional and passionate whilst remaining sweet and delicious. You’ve read this story a thousand times - uptight dude meets unconventional chick. Strong personalities clash. Aggravation turns to want turns to love. But Dunmore does it with panache. She breathes new life into a beloved trope - giving it a fresh spark yet not destroying something sacred. There is something magnificent in finding that rare book that gives you the feels without being smothering or cloying or depressing. It’s a deft hand that crafts something this delicate yet substantial. I adored their chemistry. I fell headlong into their believable struggles. I couldn’t get enough of their respect for themselves and each other. And I swooned a few times because he DID see her. And he said it. My heart soared and plummeted with his. Delightful. I’m atingle with anticipation for more from this delightful new author.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Caz

    I've given this a B+ at AAR, so that's 4.5 stars. Evie Dunmore’s Bringing Down the Duke is the first book in the A League of Extraordinary Women series, and is a very strong début from someone who promises to add a much-needed fresh voice to historical romance.  The writing is sharp and clear, and displays a really good sense of time and place; the characters feel true for the time period, and I was particularly impressed by the heroine, who is forward-thinking and progressive without being one of th I've given this a B+ at AAR, so that's 4.5 stars. Evie Dunmore’s Bringing Down the Duke is the first book in the A League of Extraordinary Women series, and is a very strong début from someone who promises to add a much-needed fresh voice to historical romance.  The writing is sharp and clear, and displays a really good sense of time and place; the characters feel true for the time period, and I was particularly impressed by the heroine, who is forward-thinking and progressive without being one of those contrary-for-the-sake-of-it, look-at-how-unconventional-I-am types who annoy the crap out of me. Annabelle Archer has lived under the roof of her cousin, a country clergyman, since the death of her parents.  She’s an unpaid skivvy; she keeps house, looks after his children and endures his continual complaints about the fact that her father over-educated her – why on earth would a woman need an education?  So when Annabelle is offered a place at Lady Margaret Hall (in 1878, LMH was the first Oxford college to open its doors to women) he’s  far from pleased, but when she says she’ll fund the cost of a replacement housekeeper (somehow), he begrudgingly allows her to go. Some months later, we find Annabelle in London with a group of her friends, like-minded young women who, under the leadership of Lady Lucie, secretary of the National Society for Women’s Suffrage, are planning to approach various men of influence with a view to getting them to support changes to the Married Women’s Property Act.  The strategy – identify a man of influence, approach him firmly, but with a smile, and deliver a pamphlet boldly declaring The Married Women’s Property Act makes a slave of every wife! – isn’t difficult to grasp, but at this period, just walking up to a gentleman unannounced and unchaperoned wasn’t the done thing and could lead to worse things than a refusal to listen.  Annabelle is understandably nervous, but nonetheless determined to do her bit when she notices a man who appears to be exactly the sort of man of influence she needs to approach. Sebastian Devereux, thirteenth Duke of Montgomery, is one of the most powerful and respected men in England.  He  has a reputation for being cold and severe, and devotes most of his time to the running of his numerous estates and is particularly concerned at present with regaining possession of his family seat, Castle Montgomery, which his profligate father lost in a card game.  The Queen (who was, sadly, one of the biggest opponents of female emancipation) promises her support for his cause if he will take on the role of chief strategic advisor for the Tory party in the upcoming election – a job he doesn’t have either the time or the inclination to perform.  But he can’t refuse what is tantamount to a royal command. When news of his new appointment reaches Lady Lucie’s ears, she realises a change of strategy is required, and that she needs to know more about the duke. To his end, she hatches a plan whereby she, Annabelle and a couple of other ladies will be invited to the house party being held at Claremont, the duke’s country home, with a view to finding out as much about the duke as they can in the attempt to ‘know thine enemy’. Of course, the house party offers the chance for Sebastian and Annabelle to meet again, and to get to know each other. The spark both felt at their initial meeting really flares to life, and the author does a fantastic job building their romance in a believable manner that enables them to stay true to themselves. Their conversations and interactions are delightful; their flirtations via philosophical discussions and the way Sebastian shows the degree to which he really sees Annabelle through his selection of books for her are completely swoonworthy, and the longing they feel for one another is palpable. Their romance is a delicious slow-burn, which fits their characters and situations perfectly. Both of them are well aware of the difficulties which lie in the path of a relationship between a duke and a commoner, and unlike so much historical romance, which just sweeps those things under the carpet, the author handles this aspect of the story in a way that feels completely authentic for the period. That said, however, I really don’t like that whole ‘I can’t marry you because I love you too much to ruin you’ thing, which I always feel is one character accusing the other of not knowing his or her own mind – and it’s one of the reasons I couldn’t quite push this up into the DIK bracket. Annabelle’s insistence on self-sacrifice felt out of character and also left Sebastian to do all the hard work while she did nothing to fight for what she wanted. I also felt Sebastian to be somewhat underdeveloped as a character, especially compared to Annabelle, and there are a few places where the pacing is a little off; the circling around one particular issue goes on a little too long, and there are a few plot points (notably one concerning Annabelle’s romantic past) that are under-explored. On the surface, Bringing Down the Duke is nothing we haven’t seen before – uptight-duty-bound-hero-meets-unconventional-young-woman-who-gets-him-to-loosen-up-a-bit is a well-used plotline. Here though, the author breathes fresh life into the trope by giving her principals a real depth of character that’s been lacking in so many of the historical romances I’ve read lately. Annabelle is fully aware that her pursuit of an education and personal freedom, together with her espousal of the cause of women’s suffrage could have serious consequences for her, but these things are terribly important to her and she’s prepared to fight for them. She’s not loud or flashy (in the manner of Lady Lucie) but she’s no less committed, and her quiet determination adds weight and seriousness to her character and keeps the tone of the story grounded in reality. She’s a different sort of heroine just as Sebastian is a different sort of hero; he isn’t a cold, ruthless man with daddy issues, he’s a man genuinely dedicated to doing the best he can for those he cares for, and there’s the real sense that his association with Annabelle is gradually changing him because she’s opening his eyes to things he hadn’t previously seen or considered. Sebastian and Annabelle’s pasts inform their characters, but they also act according to their own lights and carve their own individuality separately from their upbringings and circumstances. I can’t finish this review without mentioning the (horrible) cover. It appears to be yet another attempt by the marketing folks at persuading potential readers that they won’t get infected by those nasty romance cooties if they read this book in much the same way so many contemporaries (Fix Her Up, The Hating Game, The Right Swipe etc.) are doing at the moment. I confess that I’m not a huge fan of the dress-falling-off-half-naked-clinch covers either, but this one looks like something daubed in a kid’s fingerpainting class! So don’t judge this book by its cover – or its title, which doesn’t make much sense either. Bringing Down the Duke is an impressive début novel that’s firmly grounded in its historical setting and manages to offer some insightful social comment without bashing the reader over the head with it. The writing is intelligent and accomplished, the central characters are engaging and three-dimensional, and the romance is sensual and tender. I’m looking forward to reading more by Evie Dunmore.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Sam (AMNReader)

    I ate this up. Looking forward to more from this author.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Lacey (Booklovers For Life)

    One of my new FAVORITES of the year. So deliciously slow burn, tension-filled and intense! I loved Montgomery and Annabelle so much.

  21. 4 out of 5

    OLT

    This is the best debut historical romance I've read since Mia Vincy's A Wicked Kind of Husband in 2018. I can't think of any recent HRs better than these two, by debut or established authors. Dunmore's HR is not without flaws but it is very well written, has a nicely slow-burning romance, and intelligent, clever dialogue. Yes, getting these two main characters of very disparate social classes to an HEA does feel like a bit of a fairy tale, but I really didn't mind. It's 1879 in Victorian Eng This is the best debut historical romance I've read since Mia Vincy's A Wicked Kind of Husband in 2018. I can't think of any recent HRs better than these two, by debut or established authors. Dunmore's HR is not without flaws but it is very well written, has a nicely slow-burning romance, and intelligent, clever dialogue. Yes, getting these two main characters of very disparate social classes to an HEA does feel like a bit of a fairy tale, but I really didn't mind. It's 1879 in Victorian England. Our heroine Annabelle is very intelligent, very well educated (by her late vicar/scholar father) but also very poor. She's living in Chorleywood with her stuffy vicar cousin Gilbert and his family at the beginning of the book, serving as their unpaid nanny/governess/maid, but she wants more from her life. When she is offered a place at Oxford University's new women's college, she has to manipulate Gilbert into agreeing to this, which means promising to send him two pounds a month to pay for a replacement for her and also hiding from him the fact that she is being sponsored by the National Society for Women's Suffrage. This scholarship requires that Annabelle volunteer for the suffrage society's causes, in particular the struggle to get Parliament to abolish the Married Women's Property Act, which gives a husband control and ownership of his wife's property upon marriage, hence rendering her powerless. To work toward this, volunteers such as Annabelle must try to convince members of Parliament of the rightness and justice of their cause, handing out political pamphlets to them and trying to engage them in conversation about it. That's how Annabelle meets Sebastian, the Duke of Montgomery, just outside Parliament. It's not a particularly successful meeting but it works well for us romance readers, as we see a bit of antagonism and attraction at the same time. Sebastian is not just stuffy. He's single minded. Before his death, Sebastian's father had managed to lose all the unentailed properties of his dukedom. Since inheriting the title, Sebastian has been on a quest to regain them all. And he's been successful, except for just one place: Montgomery Castle. Now he's in reach of that goal. Queen Victoria has promised to intercede on his behalf with the present owner of the castle, if only Sebastian uses his influence to keep the Tory party in power. Well, this means no liberal leanings for Sebastian at the moment, and, of course, that means ignoring the women's struggle for the right to maintain their own properties or their right to vote. That puts Annabelle and Sebastian on a political collision course but there is an undeniable attraction which must not be given in to. Only, of course, if Annabelle would agree to be his mistress. Well, we all know how HR heroines feel about being the hero's mistress. But wife is out of the question. A poor vicar's daughter, without a hint of nobility in her bloodline? Well, there now. The plot, as you can see, isn't really new or unique. Yet it is freshly done. I really enjoyed the rather realistic inclusion of the suffragette movement and the heroine's part in it. She's not a strident feminist. Just wants to be free and equal. No subservient wife role or that of mistress for her. And she has a little bit of personal baggage from an incident in her past (which I won't get into here) which adds to her stubbornness about certain things in her relationship with Sebastian. There are very good secondary characters here. There's Lady Lucie, leader of the National Society for Women's Suffrage; there are Annabelle's two new best friends in the society, one a rich businessman's daughter and one of the peerage; there's Sebastian's immature younger brother; there's Professor Jenkins, Annabelle's professor; there's Sebastian's former lover, Lady Lingham. All of them are well developed and with distinct personalities. I can see sequels to give Annabelle's friends Harriet and Catriona and Sebastian's brother Peregrin their own romances. They were all appealing characters and deserve their own stories. This is not a perfect book. It has its flaws and so do the characters within it. It is better than a 4-star one, however, but I still won't give it 5. Too much extended drama about the mistress/marriage dilemma, and, for me, not enough about the politics. The romantic component was, however, the kind that appeals to me. Lots of burning attraction before the actual bedding. All in all, one of the better HRs I've read in the past few years.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Mara

    This is an incredibly strong debut in historical romance-- I'm excited to see a new author who reminds me so much of Courtney Milan, as I would love to see more historicals with that quality of writing, thematic depth, and 21st century attitudes/lens applied to a historical milieu. I want to describe this books as plucky and charming, as well as feminist AF and quite swoony. Beyond that... read the back cover copy. If this book sounds like a trope combo you could like, I highly recommend it! Esp This is an incredibly strong debut in historical romance-- I'm excited to see a new author who reminds me so much of Courtney Milan, as I would love to see more historicals with that quality of writing, thematic depth, and 21st century attitudes/lens applied to a historical milieu. I want to describe this books as plucky and charming, as well as feminist AF and quite swoony. Beyond that... read the back cover copy. If this book sounds like a trope combo you could like, I highly recommend it! Especially for readers who have some trepidation about the romance genre: I think this could be a friendly point of entry if you already know you enjoy historical fiction in general Very excited to see more from this author in the future! Berkeley is seriously slaying the game with their 2019 line up

  23. 5 out of 5

    Chanel Cleeton

    Evie Dunmore’s debut is a marvel. Set against the backdrop of the British suffrage movement, Bringing Down the Duke is a witty, richly detailed, historically significant, and achingly romantic celebration of the power of love and the passionate fight for women’s rights. A stunning blend of history and romance that will enchant readers.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Sahitya

    Definitely a solid 4.5. I read very few historical romances in general but this debut might just be one of my top favorites in the genre, and I’m so glad and delighted that I didn’t ignore it when it came onto my radar. This book takes place in late 19th century Britain set against the backdrop of the suffragists movement and I absolutely loved it. The way the author was able to show us the struggles of all the women who wanted to fight for freedom of women (particularly the amendment Definitely a solid 4.5. I read very few historical romances in general but this debut might just be one of my top favorites in the genre, and I’m so glad and delighted that I didn’t ignore it when it came onto my radar. This book takes place in late 19th century Britain set against the backdrop of the suffragists movement and I absolutely loved it. The way the author was able to show us the struggles of all the women who wanted to fight for freedom of women (particularly the amendment of the Married Women’s Act) is just brilliant and I can’t believe this is a debut. The politics of the Tory Party and the Queen herself, how powerful people want to quash the movement and how those in the aristocracy view the common folk is shown with amazing clarity and I loved that the author never pulled her punches. The beautiful locations of Oxford are also described very well but also contrasted with how the facilities for female students were completely different/ very discriminatory when compared with those of their male counterparts. The plot was also a lot of fun and entertaining to read and I just didn’t wanna put it down at all, not even to sleep. The slow burn romance is extremely passionate and the attraction between the two main characters just sizzled right from their first meeting. And what an explosive (not) meet-cute that was... just the idea is so ingenious. There is a strong push and pull between the MCs, a possibility of a scandalous romance and reputations at stake - the author manages to capture all these emotions extremely well and I could feel every moment of it. And while I was pretty worried how these two stubborn people from very different stations in life would ever agree to be together, the author brought about quite a flashy ending. While it didn’t feel entirely realistic, I thoroughly enjoyed it and wouldn’t have been satisfied with anything else. Annabelle is a commoner with very low prospects but high intellect, not the most admirable quality needed for a woman during those times. Her yearning to be educated at Oxford, and belief about the need for the woman’s right to vote is presented wonderfully. She could be a bit impulsive but I guess her actions weren’t always unwarranted. Sebastian on the other hand is the Duke of one of the largest holdings in the country, a shrewd political advisor and someone who never does anything that could be construed as inappropriate for his station. He comes across as arrogant and cold in the beginning, but behind the perfect facade is a great and passionate mind in need of a challenge. Sparks fly between them since the very beginning and it was highly entertaining to watch their interactions play out. Even when they are arguing or flirting, the conversations range from politics and philosophy to reasoning and logic, and I particularly loved this way of developing a relationship. They also exchange witty exchanges through notes and books and I found it personally very swoony. And despite all this fun I had wondering how and when they would get together, it also made me cry when they tried to hold off on their feelings because of the forbidden nature of their relationship. The author managed to twist my heart so many times, making me all kinds of emotional and I obviously loved feeling that way. Though this is a romance novel, the author also takes time to develop the other important side characters, and I thought it was done perfectly. Hattie, Lucie and Catriona, all women whom Annabelle meets at Oxford and who are fighting for the same cause, quickly become friends and confidants despite being from varied backgrounds and it was very endearing to read about this group. And it was actually fantastic that the author managed to give each of these ladies their own purpose and motivation in life, while also striving for a common goal. The other important character was Sebastian’s brother Peregrin who is present for a very short time, but in quite a significant role. Their sibling relationship was pretty fraught but I liked that we get some sort of resolution to their issues. I’m in love with everyone here and I can’t wait to see them all again. To conclude, I just wanna say that this book was fun, sexy, witty and intelligent and I had a gala time reading it. If you love historical romances with a dash of feminism, then I promise you can’t go wrong with this debut. It has equal parts passionate romance and political commentary about the plight of women, and the author strikes a perfect balance between the two. I’m very very happy that this is going to be a series and after that little snippet towards the end, I’m doubly excited to read Lady Lucie’s story next.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Pavlina Read more sleep less blog❤❤

    4 STARS Such a lovely story, I adore it, this is my first book from Evie Dunmore and I'm already impressed!I loved everything about it, the romance has the perfect amount of push and pull and I find it romantic! Annabelle and Sebastian started out as enemies with different opinions and this through the story developed in to something more intense and intimidate! "He spun her round and she was pinned f 4 STARS Such a lovely story, I adore it, this is my first book from Evie Dunmore and I'm already impressed!I loved everything about it, the romance has the perfect amount of push and pull and I find it romantic! Annabelle and Sebastian started out as enemies with different opinions and this through the story developed in to something more intense and intimidate! "He spun her round and she was pinned flush against the door, trapped between oak wood and one incensed aristocrat. Out of the two, the oak would yield more easily." This is a refreshing historical romance!I cannot wait to read more books from this author!     

  26. 5 out of 5

    Heidi

    What a delightfully smart HF romance. Intelligent bluestocking meets cold Duke. Add in suffragettes, philosophers and a couple of tense meetings with Queen Victoria and you’ve discovered one of the best written romances I’ve read in awhile. Considering this is a debut novel, I’m looking forward to the next installment!! Bravo Ms Dunmore!!

  27. 4 out of 5

    Blackjack

    4.5 (A-). I really wish GR had half stars!! I stopped just short of giving this 5 stars but only because of a problematic scene toward the end when the heroine, Annabelle, is unnecessarily harsh to the hero and for what felt like somewhat contrived reasons to separate them for a climatic ending. In all truth, the second half of the book is not quite as good as the first half. But wow, that first half! Here is an author who takes a well-worn plot and brings it to life in a way that mad 4.5 (A-). I really wish GR had half stars!! I stopped just short of giving this 5 stars but only because of a problematic scene toward the end when the heroine, Annabelle, is unnecessarily harsh to the hero and for what felt like somewhat contrived reasons to separate them for a climatic ending. In all truth, the second half of the book is not quite as good as the first half. But wow, that first half! Here is an author who takes a well-worn plot and brings it to life in a way that made me feel as if I was just discovering the dilemma of class barriers when it comes to love. An upright, starchy aristo is entirely befuddled by an unconventional woman far below him in status (social, economic, political, gendered - just about any way you look at it). Perhaps Annabelle is a tad too forthright in her goals, but nevertheless, she doesn't allow her poverty or gender to stand in the way of obtaining her education at Oxford while devoting herself to a worthy political cause. And, she doesn't allow Sebastian to stand in her way of supporting the rising suffragist movement. Luckily for Annabelle, Sebastian is a closet liberal who understands the aristocracy is living on borrowed time and that arguments for the subservience of women are logically flawed. For a good part of the novel though he's torn between upholding his duties as a duke and the responsibilities put upon him to bolster the Tory party. In short, Sebastian is living an inauthentic life that is making him unhappy. His early role in the novel as a defender of conservative values and customs are not championed by any sympathetic figure in the book, and they are entirely at odds with the woman with whom he is falling in love. Certainly, for this romance to work, it is Sebastian who will need to change the most, and change he does. When a frustrated Sebastian asks Annabelle, "Would you have me change my place in history to prove how much I want you?", the answer is, of course, "Yes!" Dunmore's portrayal of him as a walking contradiction of buttoned up propriety and ruthlessly contained passion really worked for me. While Sebastian is all turmoil, confusion, and repressed emotion, Annabelle is more self-assured in her moral compass. When she marches into Sebastian's office in search of his signature on her petition, she declares that she is on the right side of history. And she really never wavers, even when she mourns the loss of him in her life. My sympathies were mostly with Annabelle throughout the book because she is on the right side of history and Sebastian's various loyalties to a castle, to a party, and to the Queen, feel hollow and misplaced. Having said that, Annabelle's resolution felt a bit harsh at times, especially toward the end. I didn't disagree with her reasoning, but I did feel put off, particularly in one key scene, when her logic subsumes the emotions at stake in the moment. The emotional intensity of Annabelle's and Sebastian's conversations will likely remain my most enduring memory of reading this book. How exciting to have a new historical romance author who understands the relevance of history and social ideas while never losing her focus on the main couple and their undeniable attraction. I'm quite in awe of the abilities of this new author and looking forward to future books.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Nikki (Saturday Nite Reader)

    A sassy spirited story that I enjoyed. Between an aristocrat falling for a commoner, the rich treating marriage as a business transaction, and women getting the shaft over men, it was giving me Downton Abbey vibes (which I had just started watching when I dove into this book). I am looking forward to the author’s next novel in the A League of Extraordinary Women series.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Emma

    I loved this Victorian historical romance set in the time of Suffragettes, Disraeli and Gladstone and the admittance of women to Oxford. Annabelle was an intelligent, independent woman and I found the resolution to their romance charming.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Stacee

    I loved the synopsis and the cover is bright and gorgeous. I was very excited to read it. I loved Annabelle and Sebastian. She’s smart and loyal and ambitious. He’s stand-off-ish and stoic and easily smitten. Together they’re filled with chemistry and UST and the longing looks across the room were at an all time high. Plot wise, it was good. I enjoyed the suffragette story line and the ladies who were a part of it. I would have liked more of the two of them together, but I think I’m just being g I loved the synopsis and the cover is bright and gorgeous. I was very excited to read it. I loved Annabelle and Sebastian. She’s smart and loyal and ambitious. He’s stand-off-ish and stoic and easily smitten. Together they’re filled with chemistry and UST and the longing looks across the room were at an all time high. Plot wise, it was good. I enjoyed the suffragette story line and the ladies who were a part of it. I would have liked more of the two of them together, but I think I’m just being greedy. Overall, it was a fun read and I look forward to the next book in the series. **Huge thanks to Berkley for providing the arc free of charge**

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