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….
I’m not quite sure what drew me to this book. I remember passing it by once, since historical fiction and I don’t mesh very well, but for some reason I felt compelled to pick it up and give it a try. I recently read and loved The Silence Of Bones, which is a historical fiction, so maybe that’s why I’m tentatively branching out a bit more! Plus, this one sounded really good, with women’s rights that lead to a battle of wills.
I enjoyed reading this one. I didn’t absolutely overly love it, but I did like reading it. While it’s not completely light all the way through, with the weight of responsibilities and fighting for freedom, it feels like a light and fluffy book. I liked reading it and nothing really frustrated me about it.
There are a lot of aspects to this book. There’s the women’s rights movement that Annabelle is involved in, Annabelle’s struggle with creating a new life for herself and trying to keep herself afloat, Sebastian’s struggle with getting his castle back and trying to keep everything in his life in order, and then there’s Annabelle and Sebastian clashing as their attraction rises. Usually, with all these different aspects, I find that they get muddled and nothing quite stands out or gets the attention it should. But, while none of them quite stood out, it didn’t create something frustrating. For me, it sort of felt like they all swam together and everything felt kind of mellow. I know that’s such a weird way of describing haha. There’s no one thing that really takes the lead, so they all sort of just move along, sometimes catching fire, but quickly moving into smoke. It actually really worked for the book!
I thought I had the guessing how many POVs will be in a book down, but I was off on this one. Both Sebastian and Annabelle have a POV (with a random third one thrown in there towards the end, that I’m not quite sure how I feel about). I’m sort of indifferent towards it, since I think the book could have worked with just Annabelle and maybe certain parts of her emotional development could have been focused on more if had been just one. Still, I liked Sebastian enough that I’m not too bothered.
Annabelle was smart and sharp and she knew what she wanted. She just didn’t quite know how to go after it. Sebastian was cold on the outside, but he actually has a heart of gold. They worked together really well and I liked watching them interact. I think I would have liked more bantering and more of them clashing, more of Annabelle secretly trying to get information on him for the women’s cause or more trying to secretly sway him. Still, their relationship was still really cute and I liked how they came together.
I would have liked the women’s cause to be in there a bit more or for Annabelle to be focused on working towards her goal to be there a bit more too. I really liked that part and I would have liked to watch it grow more.
I also really liked Annabelle’s friends. I love when characters discover new friends, discover that they have friends, and discover that they love them a lot. There’s amazing female friendships. All of them would be amazing in their own books. I know one of them is already getting one, and I’m hoping the others will too!
I did like this book, and it was a historical romance! I even want to read the companion novels. While there were somethings that I wasn’t the biggest fan of, I still really enjoyed it.
Thank you for reading!