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Familiar Diversions

I'm a librarian who loves anime, manga, and reading a wide variety of genres.

Currently reading

Who?
Algis Budrys
To Say Nothing of the Dog: Or How We Found the Bishop's Bird Stump at Last
Connie Willis, Recorded Books LLC, Steven Crossley
The Invisible Orientation: An Introduction to Asexuality
Julie Sondra Decker
The Mystic Marriage
Heather Rose Jones
Progress: 302/426 pages
Ichi-F: A Worker's Graphic Memoir of the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant
Kazuto Tatsuta
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Jennifer Foehner Wells
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Second Son of a Duke by Gwen Hayes

Second Son of a Duke - Gwen Hayes

This sat in my wishlist for ages before I finally bought it. I thought the cover image was gorgeous and eye-catching, and the excerpt seemed interesting, but I'm wary of self-published works, and I couldn't find many reviews for Second Son of Duke, beyond the customer reviews on Amazon. What ended up tipping the scales was the price. I was buying e-books during one of ARe's sales, and, even though this novella wasn't part of the sale, I decided it wouldn't hurt to add $0.99 to my total. If my purchase ended up being a bad one, lesson learned, and I would just make sure not to buy anything else by this author, no matter how pretty the cover image. I've now read Second Son of a Duke twice, and, thankfully, I don't feel the need to kick myself over my purchase. I've even bought a couple more of Hayes' works.

I enjoyed most of this novella. The beginning was fantastic, in a horrible kind of way. While the sex later on was fairly steamy, I was grateful that the wedding night was fade-to-black. It was easy to imagine how awful it must have been, though. Teddy and Juliette were awkward and stiff with each other. After having been told by her mother that women don't enjoy sex, Juliette saw her wedding night as nothing more than an unwelcome duty she wanted to get over with as quickly as possible. Since Teddy and Juliette didn't know each other well and knew that neither one of them had had a choice about their marriage, they didn't hate each other, but they also didn't expect much of each other.

That brings me to the next thing I liked about this novella: seeing Teddy and Juliette learn to relax with each other. Teddy saw his new bride as something of a mystery and was mostly concerned with figuring out how to at least make their marriage bearable. Juliette, on the other hand, was truly wary of Teddy. I'm guessing that her primary experience with men consisted of her dealings with Peter, Derek, and their friends – it wasn't surprising that she'd worry that Teddy would be yet another person she'd have to clean up after. Teddy and Juliette were two basically nice people who had had to carry a lot of weight on their shoulders, and I liked seeing things go well for them.

One thing I really didn't like about this novella, though, was the twist near the end. During my first read, the twist seemed to come completely out of the blue. During my second read, I think I caught a couple things Hayes might have intended as setup for the upcoming twist, but those things were so subtle that I still felt the twist was pretty much out of the blue.

After the twist, there were things Teddy and Juliette thought about their brothers that just didn't gel with everything they had previously said and thought about their brothers.

Aside from seeming to come out of the blue, the twist also made me angry on Teddy and Juliette's behalf. Yes, things would have sucked for Peter and Derek if they had lived their lives as society had dictated they should. No, it wouldn't have been fair. So instead they decided to....secure their own happiness by dictating their siblings' lives for them? Yeah, that last bit didn't sit well with me. It was nice all around that everything worked out and Juliette and Teddy fell in love with each other, but Derek and Peter might just as easily have shackled their siblings in a loveless marriage. It was selfish, and both Teddy and Juliette had every reason to be angry with their brothers. Teddy was angry with Derek for a bit, but not, I felt, as long as Derek deserved. If Juliette was angry with Peter, Hayes chose not to show it.

(show spoiler)


For the most part, this is a solid novella. I probably would have liked it even more if Hayes had just stuck to writing about Juliette and Teddy. Because I did like the novella overall, I bought a couple of Hayes' other works that seemed like they would fit my tastes.

Other Comments:

I didn't notice any formatting problems. I did spot 3 or 4 typos. The main reason I'm writing about typos at all is because a couple of them occurred close enough together to jar me out of the story.

 

(Original review, with read-alikes and watch-alikes, posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.)