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Friday, September 27, 2013

Review: Lady Vivian Defies a Duke by Samantha Grace

Lady Vivian Defies a Duke by Samantha Grace
Publication date: May 7, 2013
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Series: Beau Monde #4
Goodreads | Amazon

We first met the hero, Luke Forest, in the previous Beau Monde book, Miss Lavigne's Little White Lie, in which he served as a helpful side character. Now, Luke has become the Duke of Foxhaven, and is seeking to disengage himself from his responsibilities as a duke, staring with cancelling his betrothal to Lady Vivian Worth.

Vivian is a spirited, bold, and somewhat reckless young lady. She's not given to conformity over stiff manners or propriety, and her childhood situation - the death of her parents - has contributed to her streak of independence. The first meeting between Vivian and Luke is humorous and engaging, she having mistaken him for another, and he believing her a dairy maid. Luke's initial mission to cancel his betrothal to Vivian is in conflict with Vivian's need to make a good marriage and not further embarrass her older brother, else she be sent off to a convent leaving no one else to care for her ailing cousin. Once Luke's good nature overruns his own mission, he proposes to find Vivian a husband, and through that process, he comes to want Vivian more as his own, as only Vivian is capable of healing the hurt in his heart.

What I love most about this book are the characters of Vivian and Luke. Vivian is such a delightful character whose charm and innocence bellies a sensitive and caring nature. For her family, she is afraid of failing to secure her marriage, but she cannot help "messing up" the proprieties, as they were. I absolutely adored Vivian, and she provided me with a few hours of laughter in her dealings with Luke. Luke's character also came as a surprise, for he is a most caring and considerate person, without a trace of the common aristocratic arrogance that's in most of his Regency peers. He suffers from the effects of a traumatic brain injury, which cause concentration problems among other things, and is hence the reason for his delegating ducal responsibilities to his brother, and believing he has no right to make Vivian his duchess. Later, his problems turns more psychological, as his own anger and fears of failure manifested physically to difficulty in reading, leading him to believe even less of himself. Of course, it was Vivian who finally convinced Luke of his worth, and in so doing, established a stronger emotional bond with him.

Were this the whole of the story, I would have given this book 5 stars. Unfortunately, halfway through the story, Luke's taking Vivian to his mother's party (in order to find suitors for her) led to a series of evil machinations from Luke's cousin that turned an otherwise wonderful romance into an annoyance. Not only did the story start to drag from then on, but the misunderstandings also impeded Luke and Vivian's relationship; I was glad when Luke finally decided to throw caution to the winds and believe in his love with Vivian, and more so when the manipulators came to light.

Ultimately, the first half of the book made me want to sing praises to Samantha Grace, while the latter half diminished my enjoyment of the story. Despite the extraneous plot twists, Lady Vivian Defies a Duke is a clever and enjoyable romance between two unique and engaging (though Luke was a bit vexing) characters. I look forward to Mrs. Grace's next book, as it will no doubt be a beautiful and fulfilling story.

Rating: 4 tulips

*ARC received from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review

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