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Book Review: Always Be My Duchess (Taming of the Dukes #1) (ARC)

Expected publication: July 12th 2022

Author: Amalie Howard

Pretty Woman meets the Bridgertons in this witty, vivacious historical take on 90s romcoms by USA Today bestselling author Amalie Howard:

Lord Lysander Blackstone, the stern Duke of Montcroix, has only one interest: increasing his considerable fortune. After a series of betrayals, he keeps his emotions buried deep. Money, after all, can’t break a man’s heart—or make promises it can’t keep. But when his reputation for being heartless jeopardizes a new business deal, he finds himself seeking a most unusual—and alluring—solution…

Once an up-and-coming ballerina, Miss Geneviève Valery is now hopelessly out of work. After refusing to become a wealthy patron’s mistress, Nève was promptly shown the door to the streets. When she accidentally saves the life of a handsome duke, she doubts the encounter will go any better than her last brush with nobility. But instead of propositioning her, Montcroix makes Nève an offer she would be a fool to refuse: act as his fake fiancée in exchange for fortune enough to start over.

Only neither is prepared when very real feelings begin to grow between them. They both stand to win… but only if they’re willing to risk their hearts.

Always Be My Duchess is the first novel in the Taming of the Dukes series. When I heard this was inspired by Pretty Woman, I could not wait to read it. Geneviève (Nève) Valery is an up-and-coming, but currently out of work ballerina. Through a random encounter, she meets Lord Lysander Blackstone, the Duke of Montcroix. Lysander initially seems very closed off and uncaring, but his true self is revealed over time. Lysander needs a stand-in to attend a ball with him to close a deal with an Earl, while Nève needs funds to help care for her ailing sister.

The two initially strike a bargain and attend the initial ball together. As it goes well, their agreement extends and the two spend more time together. Their chemistry is apparent in the beginning where they had an instant attraction, but their actual feelings took awhile to grow. The two are opposites in personality, so it was nice to see how they brought out different sides in each other. Nève speaks her mind and lives life unfiltered, whereas Lysander is more methodical.

I loved that the author included a neurodivergent hero. It’s not written explicitly, especially by name, but it is explored throughout the story. The two characters went well together, and I greatly enjoyed their chemistry, however, I needed a little more when it came to the pacing of their relationship. When the two characters initially take their relationship to the next level, I needed a little more into why Nève made the choice. I do not want to get into it too much to spoil certain scenes, however, I just wanted more between the back and forth in her mind. As this is the first novel in the series, there is some time spent setting up the possible sequels. While this did not take away from my enjoyment, it did take away some page time for the progression of the couple’s relationship. Overall, I thought this was a fun story and I will gladly read the next novel in the series.

**I want to give a special thank you to Netgalley and the publisher, Forever (Grand Central Publishing), for a review copy of this entertaining novel. The opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.**

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