Much Ado About Dukes (Never a Wallflower, 2)

Written by Eva Devon
Review by Ray Thompson

Despite their mutual attraction, Lady Beatrice Haven and William Easton, Duke of Blackheath, have no wish to get married—yet, anyway. When he learns she has lost her dowry after her uncle’s unwise investments, however, the duke impulsively proposes marriage. Reluctantly she accepts, for though a dedicated activist for women’s rights, she recognizes she lacks the skills to survive poverty.

The plot, which is loosely based on Shakespeare’s play, offers interesting insights into the changes required to adapt to Regency romance form, but the main focus has shifted to the question of women’s independence in an age when they lack legal rights and opportunities to support themselves. With such an imbalance of power, their situation is inevitably precarious, but even when well intentioned, men are too often oblivious of women’s needs and aspirations: even protectiveness can be disempowering. Though the characters tend to be idealized and the tone intrusively didactic at times, this is a thoughtful consideration of an issue that remains troublesome, despite progress. Recommended.