Romantic Reads · stuff I read

A Most Unlikely Duke by Sophie Barnes (Diamonds in the Rough #1)

Summary from Goodreads:
He never thought he’d become a duke, or that the secrets of his past would cost him his greatest love…

Raphe Matthews hasn’t stepped foot in polite circles since a tragedy left his once-noble family impoverished and in debt. The bare-knuckle boxer has spent the last fifteen years eking out an existence for himself and his two sisters. But when a stunning reversal of fortune lands Raphe the title of Duke of Huntley, he’s determined to make a go of becoming a proper lord, but he’ll need a little help, and his captivating neighbor might be just the woman for the job…


After her sister’s scandalous match, Lady Gabriella knows the ton’s eyes are on her. Agreeing to tutor the brutish new duke can only lead to ruin. Although she tries to control her irresistible attraction to Raphe, every day she spends with him only deepens her realization that this may be the one man she cannot do without. And as scandal threatens to envelop them both, she must decide if she can risk everything for love with a most unlikely duke.

Sophie Barnes’s romances are a little up and down for me – some better, some not so much.  Her new series, Diamonds in the Rough, follows a brother and his sisters, born into the landed gentry but forced to grow up almost on the streets, are elevated to the aristocracy when Raphe is determined to be the heir to the deceased Duke of Huntley.  The little group must come up to scratch, in a very image-and-lineage-obsessen ton, and when their new London neighbor, Lady Gabriella, goes against convention and agrees to be their tutor in social graces, all bets are off. A Most Unlikely Duke is  a sweet, very sensible romance with a little bit of gender-flipped Pygmalion in the mix. It turns out that you can still have a story even when characters sit down and have intelligent conversations about past difficulties or character flaws without resorting to possessiveness, blackmail, kidnapping, or trapping anyone into marriage.

I was delighted to see that it looks like the next hero will be Coventry, which is good since I found his character quite interesting.

Dear FTC: I read a digital galley of this book from the publisher via Edelweiss.

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