A love that neither can deny…
Title: The Day of the Duchess (Scandal & Scoundrel #3)
Author: Sarah MacLean
Publication Date: June 27, 2017
Publisher: Avon Books
The one woman he will never forget…
Malcolm Bevingstoke, Duke of Haven, has lived the last three years in self-imposed solitude, paying the price for a mistake he can never reverse and a love he lost forever. The dukedom does not wait, however, and Haven requires an heir, which means he must find himself a wife by summer’s end. There is only one problem—he already has one.
The one man she will never forgive…
After years in exile, Seraphina, Duchess of Haven, returns to London with a single goal—to reclaim the life she left and find happiness, unencumbered by the man who broke her heart. Haven offers her a deal; Sera can have her freedom, just as soon as she finds her replacement…which requires her to spend the summer in close quarters with the husband she does not want, but somehow cannot resist.
A love that neither can deny…
The duke has a single summer to woo his wife and convince her that, despite their broken past, he can give her forever, making every day…
Author the Author:
New York Times, Washington Post & USA Today bestseller Sarah MacLean is the author of historical romance novels that have been translated into more than twenty languages, and winner of back-to-back RITA Awards for best historical romance from the Romance Writers of America.
Sarah is a leading advocate for the romance genre, speaking widely on its place at the nexus of gender and cultural studies. She is the author of a monthly column celebrating the best of the genre for the Washington Post. Her work in support of romance and the women who read it earned her a place on Jezebel.com’s Sheroes list of 2014 and led Entertainment Weekly to call her “gracefully furious.” A graduate of Smith College & Harvard University, Sarah now lives in New York City with her husband and daughter.
DESERTED DUKE DISAVOWED!
August 19, 1836
House of Lords, Parliament
She’d left him two years, seven months ago, exactly.
Malcolm Marcus Bevingstoke, Duke of Haven looked to the tiny wooden calendar wheels inlaid into the blotter on his desk in his private office above the House of Lords.
August the nineteenth, 1836. The last day of the parliamentary session, filled with pomp and idle. And lingering memory. He spun the wheel with the six embossed upon it. Five. Four. He took a deep breath.
Get out. He heard his own words, cold and angry with betrayal, echoing with quiet menace. Don’t ever return.
He touched the wheel again. August became July. May. March.
January the nineteenth, 1834. The day she left.
His fingers moved without thought, finding comfort in the familiar click of the wheels.
April the seventeenth, 1833.
The way I feel about you . . . Her words now—soft and full of temptation. I’ve never felt anything like this.
He hadn’t, either. As though light and breath and hope had flooded the room, filling all the dark spaces. Filling his lungs and heart. And all because of her.
Until he’d discovered the truth. The truth, which had mattered so much until it hadn’t mattered at all.
Where had she gone?
The clock in the corner of the room ticked and tocked, counting the seconds until Haven was due in his seat in the hallowed main chamber of the House of Lords, where men of higher purpose and passion had sat before him for generations. His fingers played the little calendar like a virtuoso, as though they’d done this dance a hundred times before. A thousand.
And they had.
March the first, 1833. The day they met.
So, they let simply anyone become a duke, do they? No deference. Teasing and charm and pure, unadulterated beauty.
If you think dukes are bad, imagine what they accept from duchesses?
That smile. As though she’d never met another man. As though she’d never wanted to. He’d been hers the moment he’d seen that smile. Before that. Imagine, indeed.
And then it had fallen apart. He’d lost everything, and then lost her. Or perhaps it had been the reverse. Or perhaps it was all the same.
Would there ever be a time when he stopped thinking of her? Ever a date that did not remind him of her? Of the time that had stretched like an eternity since she’d left?
Where had she gone?
The clock struck eleven, heavy chimes sounding in the room, echoed by a dozen others sounding down the long, oaken corridor beyond, summoning men of longstanding name to the duty that had been theirs before they drew breath.
Haven spun the calendar wheels with force, leaving them as they lay. November the thirty-seventh, 3842. A fine date—one on which he had absolutely no chance of thinking of her.
Going into The Day of the Duchess, I was not sure what to expect. Estranged Spouses is my all time favorite Romance trope, but unfortunately coming across a well written estranged spouses in Romance is incredibly rare. The Day of the Duchess is one of those rare gems.
Sarah Maclean did not write a estranged spouses romances. She wrote the estranged spouses romance. The Day of the Duchess was compelling, angsty, had the perfect amount of drama, and even if you haven’t been rooting for Haven and Sera since the beginning of Scandal & Scoundrel, I can assure you, you’ll immediately fall in love with them and their journey.
The Day of the Duchess’s strength lied in the characters. Haven and Sera had a whimsical courtship which ended in a marriage and mistakes by both parties. One of the big mistakes that Haven made, which we learned from The Rogue Not Taken, was cheating on Sera while she was pregnant. I am one of those people who avoids cheating stories at all costs. I have no desire to read about cheating heroes. However, The Day of the Duchess executed it so perfectly that I might have to rethink my policy. Even though I don’t like cheating, I understood where Haven came from. That was the strength of the story. Haven and Sera’s reasons behind their ‘betrayals’ of each other were compelling. At the end of the day, Haven and Sera loved each other so incredibly much that that fueled both their mistakes. I could feel their heartbreak and truly understand why they made the decisions that they did.
Additionally, I loved that the story was told partly in flashbacks to the time when Haven and Sera originally met. McLean did a great job of showing the past without it overshadowing the future or becoming one of those ‘oh no, it’s a flashback chapter’ things. Those chapters were extremely beneficial on giving insight into Haven and Sera’s reasoning behind their actions towards each other.
Another aspect that I loved about The Day of the Duchess was the drama & angst. The stakes were high for Haven and Sera. They had tense, heartbreaking conversations which I constantly found myself highlighting (and I’m not a ‘highlighting’ person). There were also some over the top scenes, but over the top in a prefect, romantic way. Without deviling too much into spoiler territory, there was an amazing scene in an underwater ballroom and a swoon worthy scene just before the epilogue involving a certain conversation. The Day of the Duchess set the standard for what I now look for in Historical Romances.
While overall I adored The Day of the Duchess, there were certain aspects I was not too keen on and those are the reasons why I gave the book a 4 star rating instead of a 5 star rating.
Normally, I’m a big fan of matchmaking plots. In the case of this book, the matchmaking plot didn’t work for me. We got to see several old faces and several new ones when Haven threw his house party to have Sera find him a new wife. The introduction of these girls and their personalities gave me the sneaking suspicion that some of them would be in McLean’s new series Bareknuckle Bastards. Despite liking connections and having minor characters later become main characters in other connecting romance series, I wasn’t too hot on it in this instance because it felt so much like new main character introductions. Also, the fact that almost everyone besides Sera knew that Haven was not truly in it for a new wife made the house party feel pretty flat. There was no real drama. With matchmaking plots, I prefer there to be stakes but we knew the entire time that Haven just wanted Sera and no one else. Because of that, the duration of the story at the house dragged on.
My biggest annoyance with The Day of the Duchess had to due with the epilogue. In reviews I avoid talking about ending spoilers (yes, even in Romance where we all know it’s a HEA), but the epilogue was a huge disappointment. So here we go: SPOILERS AHEAD. If you’re a Romance reader, chances are you’ve come across one of the most common epilogue tropes aka Babies Ever After. Now for those of you who aren’t familiar with Babies Ever After, Babies Ever After is when the HEA of the epilogue is combined with the couple having babies. Babies Ever After is not something I’m fond of because of its overuse when there are a ton of people whose HEA doesn’t include babies. In the case of Haven and Sera, I was disappointed for them to go in the Babies Ever After route because Sera was told she couldn’t have children. My disappointment stems from the fact that, especially in Historical Romance, women who are deemed incapable of having children somehow, 99.99% of the time, end up having children in the epilogue. I wish we got more stories about women who can’t have children and still have their HEA because HEAs shouldn’t be synonymous with having children. I understand the want for Sera to be able to have kids after all she went through but I think it could’ve much more impactful if that didn’t happen.
I would 100% recommend The Day of the Duchess to anyone looking for a stellar estranged spouses Romance or just a good Historical Romance to read.