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Monday, 15 May 2017 18:49

Review: The Dukes of Vauxhall anthology

Written by Jennifer Porter
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dukesVauxhallThe Dukes of Vauxhall anthology (historical, self published, May 2017)

 

Summary:
Four dukes. Two balls. One prizefight.

 

Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens will never be the same.

 

After England’s victory in the Battle of Waterloo, the Prince Regent arranges a series of lavish celebrations at London’s notorious Vauxhall Gardens. The royal festivities bring together the rich and the desperate, the criminal and the lordly…and allow four very different dukes to find the love of a lifetime.

 

 

A proper viscount is kidnapped by a duke of the criminal underworld, only to encounter a mysterious woman from his past. A retired prizefighter, once known as the Duke of the Ring, stakes his reputation on a scrappy young boxer for the sake of a long-lost love. A traveler who inherited a dukedom needs a tightrope dancer’s help with a fake engagement that just might turn real. And the buccaneer son of a royal duke goes hunting for a respectable, highborn wife to salvage his scandalous reputation.

 

Let the pleasures begin...

 

Review:
The Dukes of Vauxhall is an anthology containing four connected historical romances: Taken by the Duke by Shana Galen, Fighting for His Lady by Christi Caldwell, The Prodigal Duke by Theresa Romain and The Buccaneer Duke by Vanessa Kelly. The four stories all take place around the Prince Regent’s plan to celebrate England’s victory at Waterloo (and his birthday) with a massive party at Vauxhall Gardens. While each novella is a stand alone romance, they all feature the Prince Regent’s party in some way.

 

Shana Galen’s Taken by the Duke features The Duke of Vauxhall, an underworld crime lord who also happens to be a woman. Kate Dunn was once a childhood friend of Henry Selkirk, the man who has been tasked with keeping the Prince Regent’s celebration in hand, fiscally. While trying to secure Vauxhall, Henry is taken by the crime lord and his gang. He is very surprised to learn that his one-time friend Kate is the notorious crime lord who is impeding his plans for the celebration. The two have a definite history and a new-found sexual attraction which complicates matters.

 

I found this story to be the most fascinating of the four. Kate is a bad guy and Galen does not shy away from showing Kate at her worst. But Galen made me like her even buy into her romance with Henry. I can say that my one complaint with Taken by the Duke is that I think it would’ve been better served as a full-length book. I wanted more backstory on Kate and how she ended up as the Duke of Vauxhall and felt that Henry’s solution to ending Kate’s days as a crime lord needed more time. But intrigued, I was.

 

Fighting for His Lady by Christi Caldwell is another reunited-lovers novella with a one-time fighter hero and a woman who needs his help. Patience Storm’s family is in a bad way, shortly to be turned out of their home. She is depending upon her younger brother to win a fight at the Prince Regent’s celebration. However, her brother needs help to get into fighting form - and there is only one man that Patience can think of to turn to for help, Godrick Gunnery. Godrick was once Patience’s father’s fighting prodigy, but he betrayed Patience by not revealing his family connections and history. But Patience asks for his help anyway.

 

There is a great deal of passion, heat and hurt feelings between Patience and Godrick. Godrick agrees to help train Patience’s brother but also takes every opportunity he can to get closer to Patience. He is still in love with her and wants another chance. Patience, on the other hand, has a great deal of anger towards Godrick that she needs to get over. Fighting for His Lady is an intense and quick read. I thoroughly enjoyed this story.

 

Theresa Romain’s story in the anthology is The Prodigal Duke and features a duke, Leo, who is just returning home after having been away for years. He runs into his old friend Poppy while she is rehearsing her tightrope act for the Prince Regent’s party and concocts a scheme to pretend to be engaged to Poppy in order to convince his uncle of his trustworthiness. Poppy has trouble of her own and she needs the money from her act in order to establish a new life.

 

As Leo and Poppy spend time together, their pretend engagement becomes something more. Their relationship is complicated by the fact that Poppy’s problem is that she is pregnant after having been raped. Leo has to realize that his love for Poppy is more important than her situation. He also has to finally have a heart to heart with his uncle. This novella is a strong read with two great main characters (and the uncle is a hoot too).

 

I will admit that the last book in the anthology, Vanessa Kelly’s The Buccaneer Duke is my favorite. Antonia is a young woman on the marriage mart, but isn’t having much luck finding a husband because everyone knows that she was born illegitimately. Roman Cantrell is a one-time privateer who has returned home from the sea. He does not get along with Antonia’s father, who happens to be a sea rival. Roman and Antonia are drawn to each other immediately, but their family issues are a big problem for them.

 

There is so much heat and emotion between Antonia and Roman that runs hotter with each additional encounter. Their family problems are realistic, and I loved how Kelly resolved this issue for them (because families can be a royal pain in the butt). But Antonia and Roman are the star of this story.

 

Looking for something a bit different in historical romance? Give The Dukes of Vauxhall anthology a try. There is a female crime lord as duke, a tightrope walker heroine, a duke’s son who is a former fighter and a buccaneer lord.

 

Book Disclosure: An ebook was provided by one of the authors.

Last modified on Monday, 22 May 2017 19:15
Jennifer Porter

Jennifer Porter

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