“Historical accuracy” is a loaded term in the historical romance genre, and I’m not going to be unpacking the implications today; believe me, I could go on for days about the subject, but then I wouldn’t be able to discuss this lovely new book.
It is a truth universally acknowledged that a duke can almost never lose his title. This comes up in books: the titled protagonist is in danger of losing his title if he doesn’t meet some unconventional requirements, like failing to find a wife by sundown on his thirtieth birthday. But that’s not accurate and titles don’t work like that.
However, if a duke’s parents’ marriage is deemed invalid, then that would mean that he was no longer his father’s legitimate offspring, and therefore render him ineligible for the title.
And that is exactly what happens to Sebastian. He goes from being the Duke of Hasford to Mr. de Silva. He ends up accepting a job at a gaming hell owned by Miss Ivy, who has an intriguing backstory of her own.
This book was charming and delightful. Sebastian and Ivy dance around their feelings, but it’s clear that they like each other. Their mutual hesitation was natural and made for a bit of a slow burn. I have to say that I appreciated Ivy’s reasons for hesitating: she had a business to run and didn’t need the distractions or complications that usually accompany a relationship. That said, Sebastian and Ivy had wonderful chemistry. They worked well together because Sebastian respected Ivy as a boss and as a woman.
There’s relatively little conflict, and the issues that do arise are borne out of love and concern for Sebastian’s new untitled status. There was a minor character who seemed overly petty, but every book needs a little melodrama, and this character was more than happy to supply it.
Sebastian and Ivy are supported by a cast of secondary characters, including Sebastian’s best friend (also a duke), his cousin (who becomes a duke), and his sister. Ivy has a younger sister who she dotes on as well as several employees who would do anything for her and are immediately suspicious of Sebastian and his intentions with the club and with their boss. I am looking forward to seeing what Frampton does with these characters in future books.
I would recommend Never Kiss a Duke. This is the first book in a new series, and it was refreshing and fun. There have been numerous books in which someone unexpectedly inherits a title, but I can’t think of very many where a protagonist actually loses his title. This was very clever premise, and I loved seeing how Sebastian responded to this sudden change in his status. Likewise, other books have shown women owning gaming hells, but Frampton put an original spin— pun not intended— on the concept by showcasing Ivy’s desire to expand her market by making the business more egalitarian. I have read a couple of Frampton’s books over the years, but I enjoyed my reading experience so much that I am going to have to add more to my TBR queue.
Okay, I lied— the pun was 100% intended.
I received a copy of this book from Netgalley/the publisher in exchange for an honest review.