Book Review: The Duke Undone by Joanna Lowell

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Title: The Duke Undone
Series: Untitled #1
Author: Joanna Lowell
Genre: Adult, Historical Romance
Tropes/Themes: Different Classes, Independent Heroine
Edition/Pages: Paperback, 384 Pages
Goodreads page

Thank you so much to Berkely Romance and Netgalley for providing an e-arc copy in exchange for an honest review.

First of all, if I’m to rate this purely on enjoyment, it would be an easy 4 stars. I really like the plot, the different class trope, the banter & chemistry between the characters, the friendships. But I have some mild hesitation in giving this a full 4 star rating because I felt like a certain aspect wasn’t… handled the best. S0 –

1. The stakes felt real. This is one of those rare cases where despite knowing the HEA was imminent, I still felt a sense of unease about how the characters could possibly reach one. Not only were the odds stacked against them, but Anthony’s own personal happy ending felt so out of reach. This was definitely not a case of self-imposed barriers, these stakes were real and they were high. 

2. The friendships were fantastic. I don’t believe Kate is planned to have her own book, but I desperately want one. Her dedication and friendship with Lucy was absolutely wonderful. I loved how fiercely the two of them supported and accepted each other.

3. This had so many important discussions surrounding the rights women, mental health, learning disabilities, and addiction. It really didn’t shy away from the darker side of Victorian London. I often find that historicals romanticize the era a little too much, and this definitely did not fall into that category. It criticized England’s wars & colonization, it criticized the treatment of the lower class, and it criticized the way that women were treated – specifically in the way they were deemed “mad” for having opinions and desires.

4. However – despite loving all of that. I’m not entirely comfortable with the way Anthony’s alcoholism was addressed and handled. It is a massive portion of the book and the wrap up left me feeling slightly uncomfortable. Anthony is clearly an alcoholic. He relies on drink to get him through the day, to temper his emotions, and he even describes the things around him through it (he often describes the color of things in relation to alcohol). But in the end it felt a little like “love cured all”.. While it’s passingly acknowledged that it’s something he’s working through, it wasn’t as explicit as I would have liked. Especially considering the massive misgivings Lucy had about being involved with an alcoholic as her father was one. It was almost like Anthony did one good thing and it was all swept under the rug. I just wish given it’s prevalence throughout the rest of the story, that it had been addressed further in the HEA. 

Overall, I really enjoyed this story. I was nervous about how long this book was, but I was fully invested from start to finish. I definitely plan to pick up the next books in this series and think Joanna Lowell will become a new staple in historical romances.

4 thoughts on “Book Review: The Duke Undone by Joanna Lowell

  1. This definitely sounds like something I would enjoy and I like that the author didn’t try to romanticize the era. I agree with you regarding the “love cures all trope”, it does make romance novels unrealistic at times, though it does make for an enjoyable escapistic like reading

    Liked by 1 person

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