Reader, Writer, Merciless Reviewer and Incurable Romantic
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I really tried. I kept telling myself there would be a story, a romance, that I could read and review. Somehow I would be able to set aside the problems and read the book. But it's not going to happen.
Piper and her mother are set upon by thieves/kidnappers, but they are rescued by our caped hero, who turns out to be the Barrett Maddox, 6th Duke of Manchester. What he's doing in Boston we don't know yet.
He rescues Piper, almost kisses her, then discovers she is with her mother. He suggests/invites them to join him sailing to New York.
Here's where things about the writing just got really, really bad.
First, we don't know what an English Duke is doing in Boston. Dukes have responsibilities that they can't just up and leave for extended periods of time.
Second, we learn that Piper's mother used to be "Lady Carolyn Vesser," but not how that title applied to her. Is she an earl's daughter? Why would she have left England and married an American in the 1830s?
Third, the original implication is that the duke is sailing on the same ship, the Maria, as Piper and her mother. When Piper asks him where he is taking them,
“To the Maria.” He paused as his eyes drank her in again. “Although it’s an awful ship. I am travelling to New York as well, and you could both travel with me. You would, most assuredly, be safer.”
Andresen, Tammy. Taming A Duke's Reckless Heart: Taming the Duke's Heart (Taming the Heart Book 1) (p. 9). Kindle Edition.
A few pages later, however, we learn that he has led them -- distance not described -- to his own "boat."
“Lady Vesser, why don’t I send a note to the Maria that you will be travelling with us tonight? My boat is right here and I am sure you will be more comfortable.”
Andresen, Tammy. Taming A Duke's Reckless Heart: Taming the Duke's Heart (Taming the Heart Book 1) (p. 10). Kindle Edition.
Fourth, there are a couple references to Piper's cleavage. She tries to cover it and Maddox's eyes travel to it. I'm just not comfortable thinking that a well-bred young woman traveling from Boston to New York in 1854 would be wearing something that bares her bosom. Even though it's May, the weather in the evening might be cool, and it almost certainly will be once they're at sea, so shouldn't she have some kind of cloak or cape or other covering?
Fifth, there is the matter of their luggage. These two women are essentially moving to New York, so they have trunks. TRUNKS. Only one apiece? Or more? Oh, who knows? The author isn't specific, and she just has the driver of the carriage pick up both trunks and carry them to the bottom of the gangplank to Maddox's "boat."
Sixth, we get this nonsense about peerage titles, something that drives me up the ever-loving wall.
Piper and her mother are going to New York to visit (or live with?) Piper's cousin Sybil, who has already been referred to as "Lady Fairfield."
But now, in the company of the duke, Mrs. Baker says:
". . . Piper, I was girlhood friends with Mr. Maddox’s mother, Lady Priscilla Fairfield Maddox. Now the Duchess, of course."
Andresen, Tammy. Taming A Duke's Reckless Heart: Taming the Duke's Heart (Taming the Heart Book 1) (pp. 11-12). Kindle Edition.
I thought I had misread something, but later on that same page, Piper replies to a question about having family in England:
“Yes, of course,” she replied. “Actually my cousin, Lady Sybil Fairfield, Viscountess of Abberforth, is waiting for us in New York.”
Andresen, Tammy. Taming A Duke's Reckless Heart: Taming the Duke's Heart (Taming the Heart Book 1) (p. 12). Kindle Edition.
The same family name???? And a viscount is never "of" something. Viscount Abberforth would be the correct form.
Okay, that's bad enough. But how is Sybil a viscountess? She's already been described as being in desperate need of a husband, so we know she's not married to the viscount. If she's the daughter of the viscount Abberforth, we know he's dead because that's already been established, too.
Her cousin, Sybil, also needed to marry but had yet to choose a suitor. A sigh escaped her lips to think of her cousin. Beautiful and titled, she supposed most women would be jealous of Sybil, but Piper knew the truth. After the death of her parents, Sybil felt weighed down with responsibility. She was having difficulty running the estate.
Andresen, Tammy. Taming A Duke's Reckless Heart: Taming the Duke's Heart (Taming the Heart Book 1) (p. 2). Kindle Edition.
If her father the viscount died without a male heir, the title would have gone to another male such as a nephew. In the absence of a direct male heir, the title would have gone in abeyance or reverted to the crown. The idea of Sybil, a young woman in America, being given a title in her own right is utterly implausible.
And what is this business of running an estate? In New York? Rural New York, perhaps, but the implication is New York City, since Piper is counting on Sybil's ability to introduce her to New York society.
Furthermore, while Mrs. Baker may have given up her own title when she married an American, she would not not NOT have referred to His Grace the Duke of Manchester as "Mr. Maddox." Never, never, never. If there is an explanation for this, it needs to come at the spot the event happens, not more pages into the book.
Once again, the point is to make the pages disappear so the reader is lost in the story, not wondering why there are all these unexplained anomalies.
Eighth -- the overall effect.
The pacing is completely off. The opening scene does nothing to set the plot in motion; all it really does is raise questions. When Piper and her mother go to the docks to board their ship, there's still not enough explanation. And there's no description at all! I don't know what Piper looks like. I don't know what kind of night it is. Warm? Breezy? How does the air smell in the harbor area? We get some of Piper's reactions to being touched by the duke, but it's kind of silly description. Her heart is pounding. Something happens to her nerves. It's beyond clichéd.
This is one of those books that might have a decent romance plot buried in the garbage, but it desperately needs competent editing. It needs to be fleshed out with good description, reasonable background development, and for the love of Queen Victoria, some historical research!
DNF, because I refuse to waste any more time on this piece of crap.