The Making of a Duchess by Shana Galen is the first of the Sons of the Revolution trilogy, featuring three brothers who all suffered to varying degrees from the French Revolution (the book is set in England years later). This book had a lot of things going for it – interesting character descriptions and an intriguing premise. Unfortunately, the book’s execution left a lot to be desired.
One of the biggest disappointments was the plot twist at the very end – it was way too easy to figure out. I won’t go any further into it to avoid spoilers (although it won’t take you long if you pick this up). But the second I realized what would probably happen at the end I actually felt a little insulted – like “am I not supposed to be able to figure this out?” Maybe Shana Galen just didn’t intend for it to be a surprise – either way, it should have been made much harder to discern.
And, while I found the synopsis intriguing, the way the overall plot ended up playing out was also a let-down. I wish a more experienced historical romance writer had written it – I think it would have been carried off much more successfully.
Anyway. Moving on. Sarah Smith, an orphan-turned-governess, is forced by her employer to become a spy for British Intelligence. Julien Harcourt, a French duc, has been making secret trips to France and is assumed to be a spy. Sarah takes on an assumed identity to get close to the duc in order to find proof of his activities. What she ends up discovering, however, has nothing to do with spying – in fact, she ends up deciding to help him. Their attraction quickly leads to complications that carry The Making of a Duchess on to its conclusion.
Their mutual attraction does not work for me at all. While Julien Harcourt is definitely the typical historical romance hero, Sarah Smith acts like an idiot. To be fair – it isn’t her fault. She is dropped quickly, without enough preparation, into a very difficult situation. But still. It makes absolutely no sense to me that Julien is so enamored of her. Then, once he discovers who she really is, he gets over it and falls in love with her way too quickly. The entire romance was completely disappointing, the first word that comes to mind is actually “idiotic” because once again, I felt insulted that I was supposed to just fall in line and find them a legitimate couple.
So, I basically found The Making of a Duchess to be a complete let-down. Despite the promising synopsis, I do not think it is worth picking up. If you like the thought of spies playing out in historical romance – pick up the Pink Carnation series by Lauren Willig instead!
(Although I will note that, if you’re determined to prove me wrong, the e-book is less than $5!)