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.

Book Review: The Intimacy Experiment (The Roommate #2) by Rosie Danan

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Title: The Intimacy Experiment
Series: The Roommate #2
Author: Rosie Danan
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Tropes/Themes: Opposites Attract, Jewish MC, Sex Worker MC
Edition/Pages: E-ARC, 336 Pages
Goodreads page

This book will definitely make my favorites of 2021 list!

I absolutely adored everything this book did. Not only did this have an outstandingly sexy romance, but the main characters went through amazing personal journeys along the way. This had chemistry, tension, amazing themes, and fantastic Jewish representation (just a note – I am not own voices however I am married into a Reform Jewish family).

Naomi is a new all-time favorite main character. I loved her journey throughout this book – particularly the way she had to learn to let her guard down, and I think it’s a struggle that many people can relate to. Naomi’s tumultuous past paired with societal prejudices against sex-workers, has caused her to put up impenetrable walls. She refuses to let anyone see her as anything other than feisty and utterly self-reliant. And she fully embraces her identity as a sexual icon since that is all most people she her as anyways. But throughout the book you watch her unravel her trauma and open up. And it’s a stunning journey to experience.

The way Ethan and Naomi love each other was absolutely beautiful. Ethan stood up against everyone so fiercely for Naomi – despite the risks. And Naomi fully embraced his passion for his career. Their slow burn romance was full of chemistry and tension. And that first date scene…. left me panting.

I loved absolutely everything that Rosie Danan tackled throughout this book. From faith to sex work to society prejudices, she handled everything with so much care. There were so many moments and lines throughout that hit in a way that made it was clear the author felt personally invested in the themes she was writing. 

Overall this book stole my heart. Naomi’s monologue at the end had me reading through tears and solidified this as an all-time favorite romance. I absolutely cannot wait to read whatever Rosie Danan writes next – inside this world or otherwise!