My rating: 5 of 5 stars
The opening of Elizabeth Boyle’s novel, Along Came a Duke, immediately brought to mind Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. As Austen’s classic romance novel begins with the declaration that every man with fortune must be looking for a wife, Boyle’s romance novel takes the opposite stand with a poor country girl declaring she has no desire for a husband.
Building on the classic nursery rhyme, Little Miss Muffet, Boyle’s title immediately sets the stage for the hero, the Duke of Preston, who has a reputation for luring young debutantes into his web of scandal by refusing to marry them when they try to shame him to the altar. Who could possibly get this young rake to turn aside his gambling and womanizing ways? Why there’s no one better than the orphaned daughter of a vicar, Tabitha Timmons, who is about to be married off by scheming relatives looking to cash in on her newly-inherited fortune. Both Preston and Tabitha (aka Tabby) are delightful characters who have just the right amount of intelligence and wit so that they never take themselves too seriously. While the London setting is strict on social decorum, there’s a wonderful sense in almost every scene that those rules are about to be broken with glee. Along Came A Duke is a wonderful opening to the Rhymes with Love series as well as a romantic comedy that will leave you smiling.
Boyle does a great job telling us Preston and Tabby’s story while weaving in just enough tidbits about other characters to make us want more. Within the first few pages readers are introduced to Tabby’s two best friends Daphne Dale and Harriet Hathaway who play key roles in helping Tabby get the man of her dreams. And while I adore these ladies, I’m equally interested in learning about the supporting cast of men in this novel including Preston’s best friend, Lord Roxley, who has trouble collecting money after he wins a bet; Preston’s cousin Henry Sheldon, who has received a ton of mail from London’s female population; and Harriet’s brother, Chaunce Hathaway, who seems to have a unique set of skills that will make him valuable in his job at the Home Office. Let’s hope Boyle gives them all happy endings in future books.