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Profile Image for Cindy.
407 reviews116k followers
August 15, 2020
3.5 stars. There are many good qualities with this book, but at the same time, I wasn't as invested or giddy as I usually am for other romance books I've read. Some things I enjoyed: the focus on women pioneers, the discussion about women's roles and position in society and their own homes, the friendship between the suffragists, the banter between the protagonist and the love interest, and the yearning from the love interest as well. While their initial attraction to each other felt forced at first, I enjoyed their intelligent conversations - they felt genuine and showed the characters making real connections over important topics. I wish they had connected this way first and the physical attraction came in slowly later, as that would have been more natural. Unlike other romances I’ve read, the conflict in the last 1/3 of the book was actually warranted - I believed the stakes and the consequences here, and appreciate the complicated sacrifices that weighed their actions. However, I was a little turned off by how often the love interest would get angry and arrogant towards the protagonist if he didn’t get his way - this was his reaction to everything, even in the last 1/3, and it felt selfish. The protagonist also became very emotionally dependent on him, and I wish she had stood her ground more firmly in her decisions and what she believed in, especially since this book is supposed to be about suffragists. I think if she were more adamant in her values and individuality, and if he were served a bigger slice of humble pie and sacrificed more to meet her in the middle, the story would have been more impactful and he would have had more satisfying character development beyond a grand gesture at the end. Regardless, I am open to reading the sequel when it comes out.
Profile Image for Yun.
521 reviews21.7k followers
March 12, 2022
Sometimes a wonderful book leaves an emotional mark on us, but Bringing Down the Duke left a physical mark on me too.

Annabelle is strong and capable, but destitute. When an opportunity to study at Oxford presents itself, she grabs it with both hands. It comes with a scholarship that stipulates her involvement with the women's suffrage movement. She needs to lobby men of influence to their cause, which is how her path crosses with the Duke of Montgomery's.

This story has everything I love in a romance. Annabelle is smart and competent, and she's not afraid to work hard to make the best of her meager situation. Montgomery is dashing and attentive. Though he comes across a bit cold in the beginning, Annabelle slowly thaws him out.

He finds her fascinating not just for her pretty face, but also for her sharp mind. Even though she's resilient and can take care of herself, he's still protective of her and comes to her aid. There is so much witty banter and meaningful dialogue everywhere. And the Victorian era reticence and propriety just adds to the whole charming atmosphere.

I also really enjoyed the look into the women's suffrage movement. It's the perfect companion and back story to this romance, as it mirrors the value Annabelle places on her independence and her reluctance to hand over any powers to a man. It's uplifting and thought-provoking to read about what strong women went through back in the day to ensure we have the rights we do today.

So how did this book leave a mark on me? Well, I couldn't put it down, not even for a second. So I was walking and reading at the same time (danger alert!) when I stumbled over an errant sign on the sidewalk and took a fall. I was mostly ok (other than my pride), but I did skin my knee pretty badly. When it healed, it left this long purple scar behind. Now every time I look at it, I think of the book I thoroughly loved.

I'm a romantic at heart, so I'm always searching for the perfect romance that speaks to me. And I found exactly what I was looking for in this book. Strong women and the dashing men who value them for their mind and their wit will do it for me every time. I pretty much swooned from beginning to end. After this, I'll read anything by Evie Dunmore. I just won't be walking at the same time... learned that lesson!

See also, my thoughts on:
#2. A Rogue of One's Own
#3. Portrait of a Scotsman

Profile Image for Siria.
1,858 reviews1,355 followers
October 25, 2019
This is a book featuring suffragettes, but this is not a feminist book.

In fact, Bringing Down the Duke seems to use its thin veneer of wokeness as an excuse to revel in gender essentialism. Pretty much every encounter between the two leads mentioned "feminine warmth" and "masculine hardness", so I had strained my eyes from rolling them so hard before I was very far into the book.

The love interest—Sebastian, Duke of Montgomery—is the kind of alpha male character to whom I have an instant aversion. He's constantly looming over the protagonist, Annabelle, using his size against her, grabbing her by the arm to stop her from getting her away, backing her into walls. He clearly gets off on this, and spends time when he's not with her fantasising about forcing her into marriage and clapping himself on the back for having the self-control not to rape her. He is emotionally abusive towards his younger brother in a way that the narrative never recognises—and yet the narrative would have us believe that Sebastian is one of those good feudal overlords who only ever has the best interests of his tenants at heart. Please!

And then there's Annabelle, who repeatedly acts like an idiot, but whom we're told is very smart because she's read Thucydides; whose political and moral principles seem to be based on the best interests of whomever she last spoke to; and who never once seemed like the impoverished but genteel daughter of a rural Victorian clergyman whom she purported to be. Her defining personality trait, really, is that she's Not Like the Other Girls—hence why she'll go to a ball in a skintight, fashionable gown with no undergarments on underneath! Even on a practical level this wouldn't have been possible given how gowns were constructed then, but Annabelle just draws all the men's eyes with her astounding beauty, etc.

Add to this the vague but disturbing racial undertones (Annabelle is stunningly beautiful, and this is implied to be because of distant French aristocratic or even royal descent; Sebastian looks "Nordic", which means blond and square-jawed; the description of Disraeli and another Jewish-coded character made me squirm); the dialogue which far too often sounds more 21st-century American than it does 1870s upper-class British and which uses terms like "existential angst" which would not be coined for several more decades; the vicious pantomime dame caricature of Queen Victoria (look, I'm an Irishwoman with a disdain for the system of monarchy and if I think it's an unfair caricature...); the melodramatic plot; and the complete and utter lack of any historical research or understanding (Dunmore repeatedly messes up forms of address for the aristocracy on the most basic level, has someone practicing underwater archaeology in Greece in the 1870s when the first such excavations don't take place until the 1950s or '60s, etc).

Plus on the very last page, when our happy couple have overcome what we are told is crushing societal disapproval and scandal concerning a duke's decision to marry a mere gentleman's daughter (uh huh) and are making out on a yacht in the Mediterranean (sure), the verb used in Sebastian's inner monologue to describe having sex with his wife? "Mount."

Like I said: this is a book featuring suffragettes. This is not a feminist book.
Profile Image for jessica.
2,555 reviews35.5k followers
May 14, 2020
i like historical fiction and i like romance, so i have no idea why its taken me so long to get onboard the historical romance train. but i am so happy this was my first ride into the genre.

there are so many things i enjoyed about this. first, the writing is delightful - the story is written with a quality that is very reminiscent of the time period, but also feel refreshingly modern. additionally, although much of the story focuses on the social structure of victorian england and the politics that surround social positions, i was never bored. i enjoyed the feminist inclusion and found the womens suffrage subplot enlightening. and i am wholeheartedly behind annabelle and sebastian as a couple. their banter, their exchanges of wit, and their palpable chemistry make them such entertaining characters.

i am really impressed with this debut novel and i am very much looking forward to reading more about other extraordinary women in the upcoming books for this series.

4.5 stars
Profile Image for Val ⚓️ Shameless Handmaiden ⚓️.
1,862 reviews30.1k followers
May 13, 2021
5 Stars

The was just delightful.

I started reading Regency romance when I was 12 (yeah, I know, whatever) and I have always loved it. In fact, Regency (historical romance in general, really) and paranormal romance were my first true books love genres and will FOREVER hold a special place in my heart.

I started with the likes of Julie Garwood, Judith McNaught, Johanna Lyndsey and Beatrice Small and those old battered mass market paperback still fill my shelves and have been read and re-read numerous times over.

This book felt very reminiscent of those books and how much I loved them. Very nostalgic. Here's hoping book two gives me the same vibe.
Profile Image for chan ☆.
1,070 reviews51.3k followers
June 8, 2022
2022: not as bad as i remember. certainly bland and too much focus on a plot i found tired, but the romance wasn’t too bad.

2021: i guess my new guiding rule is to not pick up historical romances with illustrated covers 💀
Profile Image for h o l l i s .
2,471 reviews1,890 followers
September 4, 2019
And another debut author smashes it out of the park in 2019!

"It is becoming clear to be me why a fair girl like you has been left on the shelf. You are not only bookish but a radical political activist. All highly impractical in a wife."

BRINGING DOWN THE DUKE was just.. pure fun? Deliciously swoony? Just the right amount of angst?

There came a time in a duke's life when he rarely encountered an honest opinion, where he could be on his way to hell in a handcart and everyone would politely step aside and wish him godspeed.

You might find yourself looking at this plot summary and thinking, sure sure, read that HR a thousand times. Bluestocking attracts a Duke? Nothing new. And yeah okay maybe. But that doesn't mean this isn’t worth your time.

"Have you by any chance missed that class at finishing school where they teach you to feign delightful ignorance in the presence of a man?"
"I’m afraid so."

These characters all but leap off the page. The attraction, the chemistry, the sizzle is.. damn. Their backstory has elements of drama but are never overblown, or overwrought, and come out in the open naturally without being held onto until the last minute. Every up and down, back and forth, push and pull, was so.. organic? And also, strangely, refreshing. Additionally the side characters, the bluestocking suffragettes, were just fabulous. All of them. Hattie might have been my favourite.

"Did you really give a man a nosebleed?"
"I suppose because the village lads I ran with as a girl didn't teach me how to slap like a lady."

The specifics of the setting, that this takes place during the opening of the first women's college, and focuses mostly on women's rights, feminism, and the injustice of the sexes, I mean.. there's never a wrong time to tackle those issues but right now it feels so so timely. And how sad is that; this book is set in 1879 and here we are.. still fighting.

She had never really known her place. Where others were appropriately intimidated, she seemed oddly intrigued by the challenge.

This debut is so strong and so clever. The cover might make it seem that this is all lighthearted joy and hijinks but don't be fooled. This is a love story between people who have their eyes wide open. Who are sensible, and logical, and intelligent. Who know the implausibilities of a union between them and fight it because they know better. Which makes that tension even more delicious. And yes, sure, there is still fun to be had.

"Would you have me change my place in history to prove how much I want you?"

BRINGING DOWN THE DUKE is compulsively readable and a delight to devour; I finished this in a shockingly small handful of hours which, considering my slumpy month, is a miracle. And I'm ecstatic to see that not only are we guaranteed more from this debut author, but we're getting more from this series and set of characters. I'm going to be clamouring for more A League of Extraordinary Women books and likely seriously regretting my decision to read this early because now the wait will feel even longer than just a year.

4.5 stars

** I received an ARC from the publisher (thank you!) in exchange for an honest review. **


This review can also be found at A Take From Two Cities.
Profile Image for Paromjit.
2,705 reviews25k followers
September 2, 2019
Evie Dunmore writes a smart historical romance set in the Victorian era that takes place amidst the suffragette campaign for women's rights by getting parliament to amend the married women's property act. There is implacable opposition to this from all corners, not just from men alone but other women too, and including the Tory party and Queen Victoria. It is 1879, and the over educated, beautiful but destitute 25 year old Annabelle, inveigles her way to study amongst the first group of women at Oxford University after gaining a modest scholarship, for which she must support the radical political suffragettes led by Lady Lucie Tedbury, and their campaign to recruit powerful men of influence to champion their cause. Annabelle has the task of recruiting one of the most powerful men in the land, the Duke of Montgomery, Sebastian Devereux, a cold hard man whose home Annabelle, and her two fellow bluestockings, Hattie and Catriona, manage to infiltrate.

Things do not go to plan as Annabelle becomes ill and a surprisingly strong attraction between the two of them grows . However, after an affair gone wrong in the past, Annabelle is distinctly wary, determined not to repeat her errors of judgement. Montgomery himself is taken aback by his feelings for Annabelle but he has his future mapped out with the possibility of finally attaining what he has always wanted. Additionally, his hands are full with a troublesome brother, Peregrin, a meddling Queen, and organising a political campaign to ensure the Tories win the next election. This is a time where the upper classes in England used marriage as a tool to secure alliances that enriched them further in the acquisition of more land, money and power. Marriage to Annabelle, a country girl of no consequence would cause a scandal of earth shattering proportions that Montgomery cannot afford. Other possible arrangements for their love are stymied by an Annabelle unwilling to ruin her life, her reputation, or lose her self respect.

Dunmore writes a fun and highly entertaining historical novel that takes account of some serious issues of the day regarding the fight for women's rights, outlining just how much it cost women to fight the ruthless forces arraigned against them, many finding themselves imprisoned, their reputations in tatters, not to mention having their educational opportunities taken away. The characterisation is done well with the smart charismatic Annabelle and Sebastian's character development shifting him fundamentally from the person he was at the beginning to who he becomes by the end. This a a novel that I enjoyed reading far more than I expected to, and would recommend to others. It's the first of a series, and I look forward to the next one. Many thanks to Little, Brown for an ARC.
Profile Image for Holly  B .
849 reviews2,012 followers
August 31, 2020

I enjoyed this romantic historical fiction so much that I am impatiently waiting for the next in this series!

Annabelle Archer is an English country girl on her way to the University of Oxford in 1879. She will be one of the first female students, but she is charged with supporting the women's suffrage movement in exchange for her scholarship.

Sebastian Devereux is the most powerful man in England and the the Duke of Montgomery.  He is a bit cold and very intimidating. Also, an extremely handsome, dashing knight-in-shining armor!

Enjoyed it so much! Fun, full of time period history and setting, steamy tension between Annabelle and the Duke (loved them both).

Sexy, fun romance. I cheered for these two all the way. The duke reminded me of the character Ross from Poldark (swoon worthy), an Amazon series that I love.

This was a library loan.
Profile Image for Corina.
768 reviews2,181 followers
February 21, 2023
I don’t read historical romances as much anymore. But there were years when I read nothing else than this genre. Spunky heroines, banter between hero and heroine, and women not afraid of going head to head with a duke was what made me come back again and again.

Bringing Down the Duke is a debut novel with lots of potential. The book had some of my favorite aspects of historical romance novels and it also played during a time, the late 1800s, which isn’t often portrait in this genre. Most stories are set during Regency England between 1811 and 1820. This novel plays during the time of suffragettes, when women were allowed to attend college and during the time of winning voting rights for females. It was certainly an exciting time. With many strong and forward thinking women.

The author kept the information about that particular time well balanced. And I applaud her for writing about a not so overly covered period of time.

Although not everything resonated with me the way I hoped it would. Nevertheless I really enjoyed the way the author portrayed that specific epoch of time.

I think the most crucial point for me was that even though I love modern and trail-blazing heroines, I didn’t feel that Annabelle was extraordinary for her time, not like the series promised. Moreover when it boils down to her fears, they were pretty much the same as any other woman in historical times, scandal, getting pregnant out of wedlock, being shunned, having to marry without love, and ending up as a mistress.


I’m not saying it wasn’t a good novel. I just wasn’t wowed by it. Nevertheless, the writing was great. The story flowed and it easily engaged, I just didn’t love it.


I received a copy of this book from the publisher for free in exchange for an honest review. My opinions have not been influenced by the publisher or the author.

Profile Image for Anne.
4,053 reviews69.5k followers
August 21, 2020
I hate that I didn't quite love this one as much as everyone else.
I mean, it's got a strong feminist vibe, good message about finding yourself, and main characters that aren't horrid. It just didn't grab me and pull me in like I wanted it to.


I think it may have been the lack of humor? But for whatever reason, I never really felt invested in this couple.
While I was interested in the Duke's brother and in Annabelle's friends, I really wasn't all that fascinated by either Annabelle or Sebastian.
I really didn't see what Annabelle saw in him. Eventually, yes, he was quite the great guy. But right off the bat? No.
He was cold, stuffy, and bland. But hot.
However, looks only go as far, and his personality really distracted from the hotness, in my opinion. Stodgy dudes just don't get my panties wet.
And why was he so intent on having her? She was beautiful and a little bit feisty.
Ok. What else? She didn't seem to like herself much, and I guess it trickled down because I was pretty ambivalent about her, too.


I think could have probably gone with the I-love-you-because-true-love stuff if the book hadn't been so realistic-ish in other areas. Maybe if it were a bit more silly like other historical romances tend to be, you know?
Still, there was nothing to complain about storywise. This just may be targeted towards a different romance reader, and I maybe expected something different because of all the glowing reviews. <--not the book's fault.


And I guess it's not all that lengthy, but it seemed like it just went on and on and on forever. <--I just went back and checked thinking it was some 600 page behemoth. It's not. I wouldn't say I was bored, but I didn't feel the need to rewind the audio if I zoned out for a second, either.


Anyway, this was still a good debut romance novel and I'm looking forward to reading about Lucy in the next one.

Elizabeth Jasicki - Narrator
Profile Image for JanB .
1,182 reviews2,783 followers
February 26, 2020
This historical romance is set in 1879 during the early days of the suffrage movement. Annabelle, a commoner, is a woman before her time and when the National Suffrage Women’s movement offers her a scholarship at Oxford’s first women’s college, she jumps at the chance.

In return for the scholarship she is required to actively participate in the movement’s activities. This is where she runs into the very proper Duke.

I loved the historical time period and Annabelle is a worthy heroine of the genre. She is outspoken, intelligent, and a woman who knows what she wants. The witty banter and budding romance between her and the Duke made this pure fun. The cover leads you to think it's a fluffy rom-com but be aware that it’s spicy and open-door.

I was given a digital copy for review from EW but chose to listen to it on audio, which I highly recommend. This isn’t my typical genre but I thoroughly enjoyed it. 3.5 stars
Profile Image for preoccupiedbybooks.
465 reviews1,109 followers
March 11, 2020
A steamy, intelligent and feel good historical romance, set in Victorian England at the time of the Suffragette movement!

1879, and Annabelle Archer, a beautiful but 'over educated' 25 year old becomes one of the first women to study at Oxford University. The fiery Miss Archer, is awarded a scholarship on the condition that she supports the Suffragette movement, and helps to recruit powerful men to the cause. It's whilst fulfilling this duty, that she first meets the wealthy and powerful Duke of Montgomery (Sebastian), a cold and brooding man, with links to the Tory party and to Queen Victoria. He opposes everything she stands for, yet she finds herself fighting her attraction to him.
Sebastian is a powerful man, with great ambition, who is looking for a wife of equal wealth and status, for an alliance, not a lower class blue stocking! Can they fight their attraction?!!

I don't really read historical fiction, especially not historical romance, and I'm not really sure why?! I recently loved The Diviners series, and then I really enjoyed this! I need to look up some more Historical Romance with kick ass feminists in like Annabelle Archer and Evie O'Neill! Any suggestions?!

What a great debut by Evie Dunmore! I am so happy with all of the amazing debuts coming out recently! This was a fantastic book, and I'm so happy that it is part of a series, and cannot wait to continue it! It was well written, funny, angsty and yet sweet, and I had a lot of fun reading it! It actually reminded me a lot of Pride and Prejudice with its slow building romance, which started off as hostility!

I looooved Annabelle! She was so strong, independent, smart and feisty! I want her as my friend!
Sebastian was so lovely, and attentive. I love it when a character comes across as cold and aloof, but secretly they have the biggest heart hidden away! It melts me every time!
Their dynamic was amazing! They were both so fiercely intelligent and stubborn, with so much chemistry. The sexual tension was strong in this one, and I revelled in it! Their relationship was actually a lot steamier than I expected it to be! Oh the angst as the Duke battled with his duty and his heart...swoon!

I also really enjoyed the other characters in the book. Hattie, Lucie, Catriona and Peregrin! These side characters were all so well written, and I loved them! I especially loved the female friendships, and how they all supported each other! I'm really looking forward to learning more about them in the future books. All of the characters were so precious, except for the Tory party (booo!) and Queen Victoria. They can go suck eggs!
I loved the Suffragettes element to the story! It was so emotive reading about how men, AND women saw and treated women! How many people thought that the female brain was feeble, and that intelligent women were unattractive! And yet amazing women didn't stand for this, and fought back! YESSSSS!

It's crazy to think that women were fighting for their rights, against injustice and inequality in 1879, and yet here we still are...I really admire those women who fought so hard so that we could have more rights than they did.
So yeah this was a light, fun and enjoyable read, and I would definitely recommend it! ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️
Profile Image for The Captain.
1,096 reviews404 followers
January 13, 2020
Ahoy there me mateys!  The appealing cover led to me interest.  I adore the bright colors and fun title.  The marketing team deserves a lot of credit.  I don't normally read romances but this one sounded silly and fun.  It is set during the Regency period and the feminine protagonist, Annabelle, is a suffragette and one of the first women to study at Oxford.  I expected this to be a story about a strong willed and driven woman who has a hate to love journey.  Sadly I had to stop reading at 59.5% as this book went from fun to infuriating.

The beginning of the book started out great.  Sure the book has lots of clichés, tropes, and silliness but rather than being annoyed, I kinda felt like I was meeting an old beloved friend.  I was entertained because I felt like the novel was pulling from books by Austen, the Brontë sisters, etc. and I liked the homages.  I loved the set-up.  I was heartily entertained by how the two love interests meet and was looking forward to see how they would interact.

Things went well up until the first real meeting of the pair.  The pretext for their run-in was the first hint of bad things to come because it was a badly devised supposed suffragette subplot.  Now mind ye the only reason Annabelle is involved with the political movement is exchange for them paying her tuition.  She doesn't actively want to be involved.  Neither do any of the women in the group.  The suffragette aspect is extremely minor and used poorly.  This was supposed to be one of the highlights of the book.

So of course girly-whirl accidentally runs into Duke at his manor house.  There is a misunderstanding, she runs out into the snow, the Duke has to fetch her on his horse, she catches a cold (like Jane in P&P), and has to recuperate on the estate.  The plot then goes to hell and the anachronisms take over.  The supposed intelligent woman is completely turned into an insipid idiot over her lust.  She got in trouble early in life for fornication and destroyed her prospects and here she is again being even more stupid by not learning from her prior mistake.  Ugh.

And the anachronisms are awful.  Going places without a chaperone, being alone with an unmarried man, wearing a skintight dress without undergarments (seriously this type of dress DID NOT exist), the use of the wrong honorifics, and language that felt too modern all appear here.

But really the kicker was how awful the relationship between the Duke and the dumb girl was.  The Duke is an alpha male determined to have sex with his conquest on any terms.  Even the things that are supposed to be nice, like a new coat, are because he doesn't like seeing pretty thing in an old-fashioned shoddy coat.  Annabelle's brains fall out of her head because of his manliness and his masculine scent.  Love seems to have no place.  Lust rules the day.

That could be okay if the sex scenes didn't feel so one-sided.  Annabelle loses her identity and agency.  The Duke's desires subsume her own and feels so toxic.  He doesn't really seem to care about Annabelle's needs or wants or how their sexual exploits would ruin her future.  Bah!  I just couldn't take it anymore.  I abandoned this one in disgust even more annoyed because it had so much early potential.  Plus it promised, but didn't really deliver, women at Oxford and suffragettes.  Arrr!

As Matey Siria says in her review (shortened but seriously read the whole thing):

"This is a book featuring suffragettes, but this is not a feminist book.  In fact, Bringing Down the Duke seems to use its thin veneer of wokeness as an excuse to revel in gender essentialism . . . The love interest—Sebastian, Duke of Montgomery—is the kind of alpha male character to whom I have an instant aversion. He's constantly looming over the protagonist, Annabelle, using his size against her, grabbing her by the arm to stop her from getting her away, backing her into walls . . . And then there's Annabelle, who repeatedly acts like an idiot, but whom we're told is very smart because she's read Thucydides; whose political and moral principles seem to be based on the best interests of whomever she last spoke to; and who never once seemed like the impoverished but genteel daughter of a rural Victorian clergyman whom she purported to be . . ."
Profile Image for Warda.
1,205 reviews19.7k followers
August 16, 2020
I’m incapable of writing a review these days, but this was so much fun to read. I loved the setting and that it followed the suffragette movement in Britain. I loved how it highlighted how difficult women had it back then but how much they still fought against societal standards men created.

And I loved seeing how these obstacles would affect a pairing that society deemed inappropriate and then the couple more or less saying, ‘Well, you know what? Fuck you too then.’
Profile Image for Melissa ♥ Dog/Wolf Lover ♥ Martin.
3,534 reviews9,937 followers
November 1, 2020
UPDATE: $1.99 Kindle US 11/1/20

I enjoyed this book, just not as much as I would have liked. I’m telling y’all, I think I’m definitely a mood reader 🤔. Who knows! Anyway, I thank my darling friend, Ginger, for referring this book. I will get it in a kindle sale some day 😘

Mel 🖤🐶🐺🐾
Profile Image for Christina ~ Brunette Reader.
187 reviews313 followers
October 27, 2019

London, 1879
Handing a leaflet. Speaking few and incisive words.
"One: identify a man of influence. Two: approach him firmly, but with a smile. Three: remember they can sense if you are afraid, but they are usually more afraid of you."
How difficult can it be? Miss Annabelle Archer thinks. Instilling the rightness of the cause into the minds and consciences of that handful of men who could truly help breaking the other half of the population’s second class citizenship status quo. Inspiring in them even just a kernel of that same passion for evolving, improving, changing that has led and sustained her during these difficult first months in Oxford. At 25, the offer of a stipend at Lady Margaret Hall, the first college recently allowing female students to attend, has been the miraculous, and last, opportunity to flee a life of frustration as an unpaid poor relation drudging her days away in her cousin’s house in Kent. Once rid of such confining environment and able to resume the literary and classical studies her father had introduced her to, joining the National Society for Women’s Suffrage has been the logical continuation in her quest for independence and a fruitful way to return her scholarship.
"No decent woman would talk to a stranger in the street, certainly not while brandishing pamphlets that boldly declared The Married Women’s Property Act makes a slave of every wife!"
Yet, here she is, in front of Westminster on a chilly October day, her first suffrage meeting, a cold mist dulling Parliament Square. And then the ideal target in sight, whoever he may be, "the kind who had his confidence bred into his bones, who oozed entitlement from the self-assured way he held himself to his perfectly straight aristo nose," and she the only activist among the ones in her group having the courage, or the foolishness, to accost him. The brief exchange has come to naught, of course, the icy façade he’s presented her has been answer enough, tough an instant sort of awareness has sparkled between them, "bright and disturbing like an electric current." And oh, he has been staring at her mouth. "No matter their position in the world, they all liked her mouth." Well, a duke no less, but he’s never going to be one of their political allies, so no use in keep glancing back in the direction his carriage has gone off...
"The woman had had the softest, most inviting lips he’d seen on this side of the channel. [...] But what was more remarkable was that she had looked him straight in the eye.
Sebastian Devereux, nineteenth Duke of Montgomery, has no time for brash suffragists. A protagonists of Britain’s politics and at only 35 one of the most powerful peers of the realm, with an unruly younger brother to manage, a scandalous divorce in his near past, the ancestral ducal seat to regain and now the Queen appointing him chief strategic advisor for the Tory party in the upcoming elections his life is already complicated as it is and, though not opposed on principle, adding support to women’s rights campaign on his agenda is out of the question. After all, it’s not as if he’s going to run into “Green Eyes” ever again...
But things are destined to change when a shift in the course of action on the suffragists’ front brings these two rivals at close quarters.
She might not exactly like him. But she very, very much wanted to make sense of him.

[...] and he didn’t even feel inclined to question why a most unsuitable woman—a commoner, a bluestocking, a suffragist—would give him so much pleasure.
Though if it is as they say that the personal is also a little bit political and vice versa, in this case a battle of wills, wits, hearts and souls is inevitable, or to put it in Annabelle’s own words:
“Perhaps this is not a question of staying out of trouble, Your Grace. Perhaps this is about deciding on which side of history you want to be.”
And a question of whether love or reason will prevail... or even better, a rare compromise between both...

Debuting Ms. Dunmore has penned a winner, written with flair and suavity, presenting a smooth and evocative prose. A deliciously romantic story firmly grounded in the late Victorian setting, but posing some timeless questions about love against duty and honour or about reputation and safety against freedom and passion, questions that transcend the historical declinations and contingencies while making the tangible inner struggles of the characters deeply resonate.

Not only it had all the "ingredients" I usually adore in a romance book, from the exquisite slow-burn tension to the accurately rendered and smoothly interwoven era bits and manners, but what impressed me the most was how skilfully balanced everything felt, to the point that if I hadn’t previously known this was the author’s first work, I would have ascribed it to a much more seasoned hand. There was humour and wit without descending into a lighter read. It was character-driven and often acutely introspective without being meandering, well-researched and slightly intellectual without being pedantic, tender and sweet without being cloying. There was a finely calibrated intensity that never lapsed into self-indulgent drama and an underlying opposites attract scenario able to go beyond the well-worn trope while renewing it through an intelligent and rounded leading couple.

Annabelle and Sebastian are not the predictable pair, so common in the genre, composed by the smart-mouthed, anachronistically liberated heroine and the uppity nobleman with a hidden wild side, no, there was instead an authenticity to them which stemmed from the layered, nuanced and vibrant characterisations, so consistently immersed in the historical setting that each of their moves and skirting around also became a sort of social tableau on the customs and mores of their times. They act, think and behave like late Victorian people without becoming stale stereotypes and preserving their own unique personalities, and the realistic hurdles on the path of their relationship, when contemplating such vast class difference in those days, are not magically brushed aside but, on the contrary, cleverly turned into pivotal issues and plot-points.

If Annabelle is portrayed as convincingly relatable, in her strengths and fragilities, smart and dignified in her beliefs and fights, I found that this book was mainly Sebastian’s journey and watching him finally come to terms with his inner "sentimental" self was sheer joy, as far as romances go.
This strongly driven and complex man, with a cold and severe poise (and how much of it is just that, poise?), starts to gradually reconsider every aspect of his life and his outlook on his role and duties, with the same thoroughness he dedicates to political battles. Thanks to this compelling and passionate woman questioning him every step of the way, who challenges and infuriates him... and who probably makes him yearn for "more" for the first time in his privileged but somehow confining and inhibited existence.
Once freed there’s no turning back, his love for her becomes vital and reverberates in his every action and word.

All the above is held together by a subtle and bittersweet undercurrent of longing... for what it is, for what it might be... expressing in all the conversations, the gestures, the sensuality, the delicate love scenes, the barely restrained emotions, the careful flirtations, and oh so fitting the mood of two completely different realities coming face-to-face, like those of commoner early-feminist Annabelle and noblesse oblige conservative Sebastian, that have to decide which direction their own private world will have to take while the outer one glares disapprovingly. Their choices, torn between need and responsibility, will accompany the story to the hard-earned happy resolution, which felt even more romantic, poignant and satisfying as it was based in the realm of true-to-life, substantial possibilities.
Profile Image for Jennifer ~ TarHeelReader.
2,181 reviews30.5k followers
August 27, 2019
Somehow this cover brought to mind a rom com, but that is not what unfolds within these pages. Instead, it’s a clever historical romance, one like nothing I’ve read before, though I admit I am not a frequent historical romance reader.

In late 19th century England, Annabelle Archer is the daughter of a country vicar, now penniless. Annabelle has joined the first class of female students at the University of Oxford. Her scholarship has a price, though, and a worthy one: she must advocate for women’s suffrage.

She’s been told she must recruit men to support the cause, and in her sights is the Duke of Montgomery, Sebastian Devereux.

Oh, and the Duke happens to be her political polar opposite, and handsome. So very handsome.

At the same time, Sebastian is finding Annabelle’s green eyes irresistible; however, she’s a commoner and not fit to be his duchess.

Even though this wasn’t a rom com, there were still funny moments. There were also some emotional times. I found the romance between Sebastian and Annabelle to feel authentic. The women’s suffrage movement during the Victorian era was a fascinating backdrop.

Overall, Bringing Down the Duke surprised me with its heart, and I look forward to the next in the series.

I received a complimentary copy. All opinions are my own.

Many of my reviews can also be found on my blog:
Profile Image for EmBibliophile.
529 reviews1,344 followers
January 29, 2020
4.5 stars.

"Have you by any chance missed that class at finishing school where they teach you to feign delightful ignorance in the presence of a man?"

"I’m afraid so."

This was such a fun, adorable, tension-filled, and intense romance!

This book was so enjoyable to read. It has the equal amounts of funny hilarious moments, Intense emotional scenes, a delicious slow burn, and two stubborn characters who are just perfect for each other even if it’s kind of impossible for them to be together.

I loved Annabelle and Sebastian so freakin much! Their chemistry was undeniable. I loved their banter, and how stubborn they both were. The writing was really good and the story was so captivating. I can’t wait for the next book!
Profile Image for Melanie A..
1,085 reviews419 followers
January 26, 2020
1st READ: Nov 2019 - 5+ STARS!!
REREAD: Jan 2020 - 5++ STARS!!

Better the second time around!

***A 2019 Top Pick***

5+ STARS!!!
His kisses had lifted a loneliness off her she hadn't even known she carried.
SOOOOOOOO wonderful!

After a bit of rocky start, I fell head over heels in love with Annabelle and Sebastian. Congratulations to Evie Dunmore . . .the writing was incredible, the characters had so much depth, and talk about feeling the story: this was impossible love at its best!

And I adored how the story was woven into the political fabric of Victorian England.

Audio: 4 STARS!
So I almost regret listening to this one instead of reading it because I have no notes or highlights. :( I have every intention of doing an immediate re-read though, from the physical copy I'll be buying this weekend!

It was really that good! Hopefully I'll write a proper review after that. :-)
Profile Image for Susan's Reviews.
1,107 reviews531 followers
August 3, 2021

I loved these brave, eccentric women who were so dedicated to bettering the lives of women. Oh, and the chemistry between the Duke and the Commoner was sooo romantic - and sizzling hot!

In this fast-paced story, we are thrown right into the political fight for social reform in Oxford and London, England. (Note; Shame on GB for being one of the very last of the modern leaders to permit women the vote. Just BOOOOOO! I deliberately did not watch any of the movies or series about Queen Victoria (or any of the monarchy for that matter) because she was viciously and vehemently opposed to the advancement of women in any way, including admission to higher education. I have no time for elitist leaders who totally ignore the suffering and injustices happening right under their entitled noses!) I just love Evie Dunsmore's writing style: I'm definitely going to read the next book in this series!

Profile Image for lady h.
639 reviews179 followers
April 22, 2020
Strap in, y'all, this is gonna be a bit of a long one.

So, I'm torn. I don't think I've ever had my opinion on a book change so radically from beginning to end. Up until about the 35% mark, I was confident this was going to be a 5-star book. By the 50% mark, there were a few things bugging me, but I figured they were small enough that I could ignore them, even if it meant slashing off a star from the overall rating. Now, having finished the book, I don't know whether to give it 2 stars or 3 stars.

I have always struggled with assessing books objectively. The thing is, if a book holds my attention, immerses me in its world, if it's a page-turner, if it never once bores me, that tends to sway things immensely in its favor. It could be a legitimately terrible book (*cough*The Shadows Between Us*cough*), and I would still give it a high rating just because it succeeded in holding my attention, because my attention is often so hard to hold. What can I say? I'm basic. I have low standards. If you entertain me, I'm likely to lower my standards.

Therein lies the conundrum here: this book certainly entertained me, even if it annoyed me equally as much, and so I'm struggling with how to rate it. I raced through this novel; there was something about the quality of writing and atmosphere that hooked me from page one, and simply wouldn't let me go. I slipped into the world (it helps that this is set in Victorian London, one of my fall-time favorite time periods), and it felt cozy and familiar. It was delightful. There were so many instances where it made me feel genuinely bright and happy, with its wry humor and strange anachronisms. And there are good things here! The writing is genuinely good, and manages to capture the time period without becoming stiff. The side characters are interesting (Catriona, Lucie, Caroline, and Jenkins in particular). The friendship between the suffragists is great. The pacing is wonderful, as I've said.

So, where do my issues lie? Well, let me first say that I am not generally a reader of romance. I can count on one hand the number of romance novels I've read, and this is actually my very first historical romance novel. I know very little about the tropes of the genre, but I can guess that nothing in this book would be considered terribly egregious to the average romance reader (please correct me if I'm wrong), but personally, I struggled. How so? Let me count the ways:

1) The gender essentialism in this book drove me up the fucking wall. Every time the hero and heroine are within breathing distance of one another there was mention of her "feminine softness" or his "masculine hardness" or some such nonsense. The sex scenes were incredibly frustrating because they insisted on constantly reminding us that the Duke was a Macho Manly Man and Annabelle was a Fragile Feminine "Female" (WHY are the women in this book referred to as "females" as though they're farm animals? Is this meant to evoke the time period? With all the other anachronisms liberally strewn throughout the book, I don't see why this is the one that had to stay). There were also a lot of really weird references to the characters' "primal" attraction to one another. Like, a lot. Did I accidentally fall into a Sarah J. Maas book? I hated this so much.

2) I never once felt that Annabelle and the Duke were in love. It just seemed like they were really, really horny for one another. It always really annoys me when the attraction between two people is wholly centered on lust and sex, because it seems like a really fraught foundation for a relationship, and because I just get really annoyed when characters think with their genitals all the time. Did Annabelle and the Duke have one single moment together where they did something other than slaver over one another? There are some throwaway lines where the Duke mentions he likes that Annabelle is smart, but it's constantly overridden by his - frankly - disturbing hyperfixation on how beautiful and sexy she is. I get that the romance genre must have Lust and Sex - but does it have to take over the entire plot?

3) That's a good segue to talk about His Grace the Duke of Montgomery, the supposed hero of the story. Why am I supposed to be rooting for a man who, in the throes of his "passion," ruminates on how he could get away with kidnapping and raping the woman he wants to have sex with? The narrative then pats him on the back for moving past this impulse, as though we're supposed to think he's God's gift to women because he's not taking advantage of his immense power and privilege. It's not just one instance, either - there's a constant underlying thread of how the Duke is so good and so honorable because unlike the other men of his station, he doesn't take advantage of his privilege (except when he does it, it's For Good), and I'm like. Really. Is the bar this low. Are we really gonna give this guy a medal for not murdering his ex-wife when she cheated on him.

In multiple instances, the Duke does in fact use his physical strength to subdue Annabelle, and it's always brushed over because Annabelle is telling the reader she likes being dominated like that, but the Duke, unlike the reader, is not privy to her thoughts, so he's just being a dickish Alpha Male, which is a type of character I truly despise. I don't want to read about some dude's "primal" instinct to fuck a beautiful woman, thanks. He's also possessive and jealous when he has absolutely no right to be. And this isn't even to mention how much of a massive asshole he is to his younger brother.

I enjoy villain romance, but only when the narrative acknowledges the character as a villain instead of worshiping at his altar. I appreciate the attempt to craft a complex, compelling, and not entirely likable male character, but this ain't it. And it makes me so angry because the foundation for an intriguing and flawed character is there, but anything interesting about him is overshadowed by his Primal Alpha Maleness the narrative insists on bestowing him.

4) Annabelle is a ridiculously passive character. Now, I don't always mind passive characters. Some people are passive! That's fine! But it bugged me because the marketing for this book made it seem like Annabelle was a passionate suffragist, someone who is committed to the cause, and that is what drew me to this book. As it turns out, Annabelle is only working with the suffragists because they're paying her tuition, and while she occasionally pays lip service to women's rights, her heart isn't really in it. Nor does her heart seem to be in anything else, including her studies. She's just obsessed with the stupid Duke because he's hot. The whole suffragist cause takes a backseat to Annabelle's lust for this dude, but it gets worse: the entire cause seems to exist solely to make the Duke look good!

5) Maybe I lost track of the timeline, but it seems like Annabelle and the Duke ~fell in love~ in like a week? When they barely spent any time together? And the time they did spend together they spent thinking about how much they wanted to jump each others' bones? And somehow they suddenly can't live without one another? That went from 0 to 100 waaaaay too quick to be believable. The melodramatic things these two said to each other had me cringing so hard.

Okay, the more I wrote this review the more annoyed I got with this book. It just left a bad taste in my mouth, and I'm extra annoyed with it for giving me such high expectations at the start. So, a 2.5-star rating it is.
Profile Image for romancelibrary.
1,139 reviews493 followers
December 13, 2019
I received an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

2.5 stars

Before I even start my review of this book, I think it would be remiss of me not to talk about something that’s been on my mind – something that other reviewers seem to have completely missed. When reading a politically charged book that focuses on the women’s suffrage movement, it is so important to think critically, lest you be overcome by white feminism. Bringing Down the Duke is a Victorian romance novel set against the backdrop of women fighting for their rights, which is great. But it is equally important that we remember the women of colour who are too often erased from history for their contribution to women’s rights. It is important that we look at the women’s suffrage movement from an intersectional perspective. Men of colour, let alone women of colour, barely show up in history books because history is often told from the white male perspective. The same can be said for the women’s suffrage movement in Britain, which is basically the foundation for Bringing Down the Duke. When it comes to women’s rights from an intersectional perspective, this book does an okay job depicting the intersection of class and gender through its protagonist, Annabelle. But as expected, women of colour are excluded. Listen, if you are going to write a book about the women’s suffrage movement, then it is important that you remember the people that history works tirelessly to exclude. So I feel it my duty to bring this up and to present a couple of articles that explore this topic, the women’s suffrage movement in the UK specifically, from an intersectional perspective (men of colour included!). Don’t forget to keep colonialism in mind because the British Empire was at its peak at the time. Colonialism undoubtedly adds a layer of complexity to women of colour’s role in the suffrage movement in the UK.

Alright, we can officially switch from essay mode to review mode, which will have spoilers. Bringing Down the Duke is labeled and marketed as a fresh, unique, and feminist historical romance, but it came across as the complete opposite to me. I’ve already talked about why I don’t consider this book feminist. If you’re writing a book about the women’s suffrage movement and fail to include women who look like me and other women of colour, then your brand of feminism is not for me. As for this book being fresh and unique…well, when I first started reading it, I thought that was exactly what I was getting from the story because historical romance novels with suffragist heroines are rare. But then the story unfortunately veered into the predictability territory, and not the fun kind of predictability. The suffragist aspect quickly becomes background noise as the heroine, Annabelle, debates the pros and cons of becoming the mistress of the oh-so-powerful Duke of Montgomery. If you are a voracious historical romance reader like me, then you have most likely read a plethora of historical romance novels where the Duke hero refuses to marry the heroine because she is below him in station. Been there, done that. Nothing fresh or unique about this type of story. And for the record, I despise heroes like that, but we’ll get to that in a bit.

The blurb of this book would lead you to believe that the heroine, Annabelle, is this strong advocate for women’s rights, when in actuality, she’s quite passive and a complete pushover who can’t make up her mind about anything. There are a few times when her passion about women’s rights and the classics shine through, but for the most part, she’s a bystander in her own story. Annabelle is the kind of character that just gets dragged into things. She admits that she got dragged into political activism because of her scholarship. She even admits that she studies classics because her father only taught her the classics and she “had no choice in the matter.” Like I mentioned, the political activism quickly becomes background noise and it is only used as a plot device to drive the heroine into her saviour Duke’s powerful arms. Once she gets her happily ever after, she no longer bothers with activism, but she does continue her education, which I think is where her real passion lies.

As for the hero, he is the powerful Duke of Montgomery who thinks that his lofty position in society gives him the right to ask things of the heroine that he has no right to ask. He comes across as an asshole, which kind of comes with the territory because he is really stuffy and cold. Very few authors can write stuffy and cold heroes without asshole tendencies. But Montgomery is a total hypocrite. He clearly states that he sees Annabelle as a lady, but he doesn’t think she’s good enough to be his lover or his wife. He thinks she’s only good enough to be his mistress because she needs his “protection.” And he implies to other aristocratic men that Annabelle is his mistress, long before he even asks her to be his mistress. There is a difference between being a lover and a mistress – one entails equality, the other entails an imbalance of power. But this was not emphasized at all. Montgomery even confesses to her that if their stations were equal, then he would have made her his wife. The heroine obviously refuses to be his mistress, but she guards his so-called-romantic confession closely to her heart because it makes her feel good about herself, for reasons I fail to understand. Is the heroine’s self-esteem really that low? The hero is also the type who thinks that “If I can’t have her, then no one else can,” displaying ugly bouts of jealousy. He has the nerve to be offended when she tells him that he only thinks she’s good enough to be his whore. She wants too much when she says she wants to marry him. He doesn’t want to give up his reputation by marrying her. But he’s totally okay with her throwing away her reputation and her chance for a university education so she could be his mistress. And as it is with this old and predictable drama, it takes a dramatic life or death situation for the lofty Duke to come to his senses and propose. Please spare me from all the drama. Oh, and I also don’t like the way the hero treats his younger brother, but that’s a whole other conversation.

Despite not liking the heroine and absolutely hating the hero, I liked that the romance was a slow burn, mostly because they had really good chemistry together. It’s the kind of chemistry that is only possible with good writing, and Evie Dunmore’s writing is solid for the most part. However, the character development for both the hero and heroine is weak and unbelievable. I think this book needed a more headstrong heroine because Annabelle was too much of a pushover for someone as entitled as Montgomery. If Bringing Down the Duke had more interesting and likable protagonists with solid character development and if the feminist aspect was inclusive, then this book could have easily been a winner for me.
Profile Image for Astrid - The Bookish Sweet Tooth.
794 reviews891 followers
September 5, 2019

AUTHOR: Evie Dunmore
SERIES: A League of Extraordinary Women #1
RELEASE DATE: September 3, 2019
GENRE: Historical Romance
THEMES & TROPES: Enemies to lovers, women's emancipation


I'm a huge fan of Judith McNaught's historical romance. Why I'm mentioning that? Because this author's debut, BRINGING DOWN THE DUKE, transports me back to a time when I was devouring the novels by McNaught. While Evie Dunmore's writing style is more modern in parts which makes this story extremely readable, I'm not complaining, mind you, because this author's words wrapped themselves around my heart. However, the story, this deliciously angst-filled plot, the yearning, the complex characters so reminded me of McNaught's. I think that's one of the biggest compliments I can give an author.

Evie Dunmore shows us how far women have come, how women fought for what we consider normal and rightfully ours. This alone makes it this book worth reading and will give you a new appreciation of the women's role in society today.
Spun around this setting is an epic love story between a commoner and a duke, both very aware of their position in society. Sebastian is right a jerk when this starts off but man, did I fall in love. I fell so hard. He is honorable, considerate, more than he let on when we first meet him, arrogant, high-handed, controlled and incredibly private and emotionally stunted. It was a thing of beauty to watch him turn from this seemingly cold-hearted bastard into a man, who felt deeper than anyone would have ever expected he was capable of. What a complex, infuriating, protective, wonderful man he was.
Something tore inside his chest, something vital, and briefly, he wondered if a man could die from it. The pain all but took his breath away. What a way to find out he did have a heart.

Annabelle is everything Sebastian needs but can't have. She was just as beautiful a character with her backbone of steel, intelligence, sophistication and unshakable loyalty. She refused to be the duke's mistress because she had a sense of self worth and knew that even though Sebastian would treat her well, society wouldn't. She knew the feeling of being a pariah, she didn't want to repeat mistakes she'd made before. While my heart hurt for them both I could understand her standpoint.
He does have a heart, you see, a restrained, honorable heart, but it bruises just like yours and mine, and I wager it is a hundred times more steadfast. He is a rare man, not because he is wealthy, or powerful, but because he says what he means and does what he says.

Their attraction was so palpable, so passionate and there were times I wanted to smoosh their faces together and tell them to get it over with. There was so much tension between them, the impossibility of their love made this story heartwrenching.
She belonged here, right here wrapped in these strong, nonjudgmental, protective arms, and she wasn’t sure where to begin again without him.

Supporting these two are equally strong women, who I suspect will get their own stories.

This is a well researched, fascinating romance with characters that make you think even after leaving them to their happily ever after. And what a HEA it was. How can I not fall back into a slump after BRINGING DOWN HE DUKE? Ugh!  The story is flawless and flows without hiccups. And I can't praise the beautiful words enough. Evie Dunmore shows other authors how debuts are done. I loved every minute spent with Sebastian and Annabelle.
“Darling,” he said, “I have only just begun to love you.”

Profile Image for Holly.
1,449 reviews1,084 followers
October 28, 2019
What a pleasant surprise! This book has quite a lot going for it - an unlikely romance that develops in a very believable way, a focus on the suffragette movement, and strong characters. I can't believe this is the author's debut book! I *absolutely* will be reading her next book! Very much recommended!
Profile Image for hedgehog.
216 reviews32 followers
August 29, 2021
Partway through this book, I began to hope that the title meant that it was set in an alternate timeline, where the Duke would be Brought Down by means of a guillotine, and the entire system of monarchy and nobility would be toppled in a swath of bloody revolution, as it well deserves. As I frigging well deserved for slogging through a book with such an unlikable asshole of a hero. There's your cover blurb: This Book Turned Me Into (Even More Of) An Anti-Monarchy Communist: Save A Cow, Eat The Rich.

What's there to say? Bringing Down the Duke is a painfully backwards het Victorian read, with a hero whose tragic backstory is that he's rich, you guys, he's SO rich, he has a direct line to the queen and he's rolling in literally tens of thousands of acres of property, but woe is him, he doesn't have :( his ancestral castle :(

This is 2019. You know what I don't have sympathy for? Duke Jeff Bezos complaining that his shoes aren't made out of genuine baby skin leather or whatever. Cry me a river, dude. This isn't even getting into the enormous abuses of power this guy throws around and we're supposed to find charming, or the fact that his own brother cowers from him in abject fear, or that he calls the heroine a whore because she's thinking about marrying someone else to save her reputation, or that we're supposed to find him noble and sympathetic because he didn't murder his own ex-wife. Not to have standards or anything, but "not a murderer" is a really low bar to clear, here! There's a point where he's thinking about kidnapping the heroine, dragging her back to his bedroom, and fucking her (whether she's willing or not, it's implied), and then he pats himself on the back for not doing that, like it's some kind of heroic feat not to be a kidnapping potential rapist. Barf.

In between all of his nonsense, there's also a great amount of ugly gender essentialist language in here about the heroine's Feminine Softness and the hero's Masculine Hardness. This is one of those books that refers to women as "females". Again, this is 2019, I shouldn't have to say that this sort of language completely erases trans and non-binary/genderqueer people from existence, and even cis people who don't have the right kinds of bodies (curvy cis men and lean cis women exist, amazingly). And what does shit like "feminine warmth" mean? Do women somehow radiate a special, mystical body heat that fundamentally differs from men? Do their atoms vibrate at some frequency labeled F E M A L E? I'm so tired, authors, don't do this to me.

I've said nothing about the plot, but I don't need to: you've read it all before, and as might be discerned from the hopelessly backwards language above, it all boils down to a Manly Male who knows better than the silly Feminine Female. The flimsy bits about suffrage are just a smokescreen; Annabelle seems perfectly content not to care about that, and all of the plot movement in that direction is smoothed over with Sebastian's manly, manly hands.
Profile Image for Gretchen.
884 reviews122 followers
July 20, 2020
4.5 stars!

Bringing Down the Duke was a unique and refreshing story and I enjoyed it all!
It was a witty, entertaining, and engaging read that was incredibly well told.

Annabelle and Sebastian were wonderful, likable characters. I loved Sebastian. He's seemed so grumpy and cold, but I loved getting to see the man behind the mask as he got to know Annabelle and opened up. He was sweet, protective, and seductive. I thought Annabelle was such a great character. She was strong-willed with a very intriguing past, and I loved her tenacity and attitude. I love how hard she’s worked to better herself and everything she was fighting against. I really enjoyed learning both of their histories, especially hers. I loved watching these two come together, and fight their feelings as their attraction grew. It felt like a fun game of cat and mouse. I loved them butting heads and how Annabelle challenged Sebastian, it was awesome. I loved the build to them coming together and the growth they both experienced.

This book had such a different feel than any others I have read from the time period and I loved how it made me feel. I really enjoyed the writing and all the descriptions. There's a lot to take in in the beginning so it took me a few chapters for everything to really click but after that I really hit my stride and was engrossed in the story. There were a lot of entertaining moments that had me smiling, some mild drama, and a lot of angst happening. I was tense at times because of the time period and politics and was aggravated on Annabelle and pretty much women's kinds behalf on several occasions. I liked the different dynamics happening and I enjoyed Sebastian's relationship with his brother and liked how much it evolved. I really loved the relationships that Annabelle formed with the women involved and hope they each get their own stories.

This was a great introduction to a new series and a fantastic way to introduce a new author. After the initial start, I was totally pulled in I'm looking forward to reading more. This is not to be missed!
Profile Image for Book of the Month.
229 reviews12.7k followers
August 30, 2019
Why I love it
by Siobhan Jones

When I started at BOTM, I was a professed literary snob—and probably flaunted that term with pride (queue eye roll). I never read romance books because I assumed they were too cheesy and poorly written to be considered worthy of my time. Years later, dozens of romance books devoured, I’m so happy to report that, on that score, I was wrong.

Set in turn-of-the-century England, this is the story of Annabelle Archer, a plucky woman with the opportunity to become one of the first female graduates at the prestigious University of Oxford. Upon entering college, she becomes an advocate for the women’s suffrage movement, which is how she first encounters the Duke of Montgomery—an influential, ill-tempered political adversary whom she must convince into becoming an ally. A clash of two strong-willed, sharp-tongued enemies? Sounds hot ;)

Bringing Down the Duke gives us the best that the romance genre has to offer: light-hearted fun, steamy sex scenes, and lots of brooding, read-between-the-lines dialogue. It also serves up a few additionally tasty accoutrements, including royals, a heroine with a feminist agenda (Suffragism! Get involved, people), and witty repartee that make for a very entertaining read. FYI, this is not a book that takes itself seriously—but I think you’ll agree the result is serious fun. Cheers!

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