Review – How to Ruin a Duke by Grace Burrowes and Theresa Romain

About the Book:

Grace Burrowes and Theresa Romain team up to set two Regency novellas against a backdrop of scandal, intrigue, and literary mischief inspired by the real-life spoof of Lord Byron published by Lady Caroline Lamb.

Rhapsody for Two by Theresa Romain 
Rowena Fairweather, a builder of stringed instruments, is facing a difficult future. Simon Thorn is a musician fleeing his past. When a page from How to Ruin a Duke brings them together, will these two independent souls allow themselves to fall in love?

When His Grace Falls by Grace Burrowes 
The very proper Duke of Emory, lampooned in How to Ruin A Duke, suspects that the author of his misfortune is Lady Edith Charbonneau. He sets out to ruin her before she can write a sequel, except… what if he’s wrong, and she’s not his enemy after all?

Click on title below for direct Amazon buy link:                                                                      How to Ruin a Duke: A Regency Novella Duet

My Review:

I received a complimentary copy of this book.

RHAPSODY FOR TWO by Theresa Romain

Rowena Fairweather is a luthier, meaning she builds, repairs, and tunes stringed instruments.  She’s carrying on the family tradition, but is in a bind because the long term lease on her shop is about to expire, and the landlord has received a very lucrative offer.  If Rowena can’t match it, she’ll have to vacate, meaning she’d lose her home as well, as it’s upstairs from the shop.

Simon Thorn is currently a member of the orchestra at Vauxhall Gardens, and has come to Rowena’s shop because he needs help removing a note that someone stashed into his horn.  While Rowena doesn’t usually work on brass, she easily helps Simon, who is charmed by her.  When it turns out that the note was an inappropriate (and unwanted) love letter, Simon loses his job, thanks to a disgruntled husband.  Simon goes back to Rowena’s shop, offering to temporarily help her with her business, hoping to raise sufficient money to allow her to keep the shop.

Rowena and Simon have an immediate chemistry, though Simon is very upfront about stating that he will be leaving soon.  They share a passionate interlude, with no promises and no strings.  Simon is the proverbial rolling stone.  He’s been on the run from his past and his guilt over an unfortunate incident that happened when he was a young teenager.  He shares some of his story with Rowena, who, much to his chagrin, takes matters into her own hands, and tries to engineer a situation where Simon has to confront his past so he can move forward.  Rowena has some soul searching to do, as well.  Is she clinging to the shop because it’s her passion, or because it was her father’s dream?

Simon is one of those people who is filled with pain and guilt on the inside while projecting a happy and charming persona on the outside.  His actions show him to be a truly good person who feels unworthy of putting down roots.  I love how Rowena’s actions nudged him into facing a situation he has been running from for over a decade.  Rowena is strong and capable, and has others depending on her.  She considers their welfare when she’s trying to make the best decisions for everyone’s future.

RHAPSODY FOR TWO let me feel that I truly got to know Rowena and Simon, their strengths and their weaknesses.  Their romance was sweet and warm, and felt right, as if they truly belong together.  This short story was engaging and satisfying, and I loved how Rowena and Simon confronted their problems and found a way for a delightful future together.

 

WHEN HIS GRACE FALLS by Grace Burrowes

Lady Edith Charbonneau is the daughter of an earl, but has fallen on hard times since her father died, leaving only debt.  (Edith was introduced in Theresa Romain’s story, and is a good friend of Rowena’s. I was immediately intrigued by her, as she left a job as companion to a duchess, and never disclosed her reason as to why.)  The son of her former employer, Thaddeus, the current Duke Emory, is the object of much ridicule, as he is the thinly disguised “Duke of Amorous” in the bestselling scandalous novel, “How to Ruin a Duke.”

The peculiar thing about the scandalous book, which was published anonymously, is that all of the incidents attributed to the amorous duke start with a kernel of truth, but then veer off to make Thaddeus out to be something he’s not.  In reality, Thaddeus is honest, hardworking, dedicated to his position, and far from being a rake.  He’s determined to find the author and stop him or her before the rumored sequel is written.  Thaddeus realizes that the author must have a source who is close to him, and he wonders if Edith, his mother’s former companion may be the one.

Without a job, Edith is truly in dire straits.  She’s living in rundown rooms, with barely anything to eat for her and her stepbrother, whom she supports.  She’s initially leery of Thaddeus when he approaches her, but agrees to talk to him, especially since he’s providing a delicious lunch for them.  When asked point-blank by Thaddeus about writing the book, she denies it, and then agrees to help him discover who the author is.

Edith and Thaddeus find that working together and sharing delicious meals has awakened other appetites, and they share an intimate afternoon together.  Thaddeus has always admired Edith from a distance when she worked for his mother, and now that they’ve experienced such compatibility in and out of the bedroom, Thaddeus begins to hear wedding bells.  That is, until he sees what appears to be undeniable proof that Edith is the anonymous author after all, and has been deceiving him.

I love that Thaddeus, even believing that he’s been played for a fool, decides to investigate further before doing irretrievable damage to Edith.  He’s an intelligent and honorable man, and so undeserving of the mockery he’s been subjected to.  Meanwhile Edith, even though abandoned by Thaddeus, still leaves him a beautiful parting gift which shows her true colors.

WHEN HIS GRACE FALLS is so fully developed, that it’s hard to believe it’s a novella.  I love to be surprised, and I had two in store for me as I finally learned why Edith left her job as companion, and who the mysterious author really is.  This story is truly wonderful and warm, and flows along beautifully and logically after Theresa Romain’s novella.  I adored both stories and recommend them most highly, as I fell a bit in love with both couples.    ~Rose

2 comments

  1. The review of this double novella is great, and I’m eager to get my eyes on it. I am really getting to enjoy the two-author collaborations becoming more available from authors I already know I love. Years back I loved getting novella collections based on common themes, which introduced me to new authors to love. And I still buy and enjoy those. This is a bit extra special though. I am looking forward to reading it! Thank you Rose.

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    • Thanks, Michelle. I’ve always loved to pick up the novella compilations, too, but it seemed like there were one or two that just didn’t work. Not the case here! These stories work beautifully together, and they’re both so well written while being very different. It’s a winner!

      Like

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