I’ve really enjoyed earlier books in this series, so I was honestly disappointed when The Duke of Kisses fell kind of flat for me. Fanny, sister of Ivy, Duchess of Clare, was a character I just couldn’t warm to, mainly because she didn’t seem to have any defining characteristics of her own except ‘clumsy’. She starts studying ornithology because the hero is interested in it. She gets involved with charities because that’s what her sister enjoys. I never really got any sense of what Fanny enjoyed, what she wanted out of life.
David, Earl of St. Ives, was much more interesting. A deathbed promise to his father to marry a girl he’s never met has him massively conflicted when he falls for Fanny instead of his intended bride, though to be honest I was never quite sure why he’d never met the young woman in question before. It wasn’t quite explained.
David and Fanny’s first meeting was charming, but there was a certain amount of insta-love the reader is expected to buy into, and considering I never figured out who Fanny really was despite being privy to her inner thoughts, I really didn’t buy into David’s romance with her either. And considering Fanny has personal knowledge of gentlemen who debauch young women and then fail to keep promises, through her sister’s prior experience, her eagerness to sleep with David frankly came across as naive and reckless at best, at worst making her look like the kind of woman who’d probably be called a brazen hussy if she wasn’t the heroine of the story.
A generations-old family conflict was resolved far too easily to be a real conflict, leaving the end of the story to limp to an unsatisfying conclusion.
This won’t put me off reading more of Darcy Burke’s books because I know just how well she can write and just how great most of her characters and plots were, but I honestly wish I’d given this one a miss. Two stars.
Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book for review through NetGalley.