Julia Quinn – “The Lost Duke of Wyndham”

11 Jul

GENRE: Romance / Historical
PUBLISHED: Avon Books, 2008

WHY THIS NOVEL: I liked other novels by Julia Quinn + good reviews

The back blurb:
“Jack Audley has been a highwayman. A soldier. And he has always been a rogue. What he is not, and never wanted to be, is a peer of the realm, responsible for an ancient heritage and the livelihood of hundreds. But when he is recognized as the long-lost son of the House of Wyndham, his carefree life is over. And if his birth proves to be legitimate, then he will find himself with the one title he never wanted: Duke of Wyndham.
Grace Eversleigh has spent the last five years toiling as the companion to the dowager Duchess of Wyndham. It is a thankless job, with very little break from the routine… until Jack Audley lands in her life, all rakish smiles and debonair charm. He is not a man who takes no for an answer, and when she is in his arms, she’s not a woman who wants to say no. But if he is the true duke, then he is the one man she can never have…”

I’m somewhat at a loss what to make of this novel. After I finished it, I thought it a typical “meh” book. There wasn’t a real spark that captured me but there wasn’t anything staring-you-in-the-eye “bad” either. I read along fairly easily, the only thing I thought then was that the pacing was slightly off at times. I didn’t mind the modern feel of the story and writing and there weren’t many huh? moments to pull me out of the story. But I wanted to know why “meh?” and so I looked at the different elements of the story and started to think about them (and that’s not always good).

The main characters:
Both Grace and Jack have nearly no character development in this story, IMO. The only thing that really changes is that both have a different position in society than at the beginning of the story. But other than that, there is nearly nothing. I think Jack is supposed to bring Grace out of the subdued state her job has forced on her, but I didn’t really see that in the story aside from that he makes her laugh (which she has to hide). Jack is the typical do-good highwayman. He’s frequently described as charming and occasionally he acts like it, but I think of him more as a carefree character. It’s clear he isn’t suited for the dukedom (character, education) and at the end, another reason for his reluctance is revealed (which would have worked better with a sooner revelation). But apart from his frequently stated unwillingness there’s nothing to indicate he thinks about this at all. He still doesn’t want it at the end, but then there’s the epilogue and he is.

That’s not to say I didn’t like them; they were just not distinct enough IMO to be really interesting.

The romance:
The romance in The Lost Duke of Wyndham is a love-at-first-sight romance. As such, there is not much inherent conflict in the romance itself. Both characters are in love with each other (or at least attracted to each other) from the start. A love-at-first-sight romance needs interesting scenes between the hero and the heroine but more than that, it relies on an interesting external conflict (and other elements) to keep the reader in suspense and reading, IMO. I think the scenes between Grace and Jack were quite all right if somewhat bland (probably due to the generic characters) and the external conflict… well, it’s the next point.

The main / external conflict:
The external conflict in The Lost Duke of Wyndham is: is Jack the true Duke of Wyndham? If yes, he can’t marry Grace because of the inequality of their social position. There are two problems with that: 1. It’s very clear early on that Jack is the true duke so no suspension there; 2. I didn’t perceive the difference in Grace’s and Jack’s social position as so great to be a real hindrance to marriage and therefore this plot element wasn’t really convincing. This impression was probably intensified by Quinn’s modern way to write.

So after thinking about it, this story has nothing I look for in reading. Nearly no character development, a romance that couldn’t carry the story on its own, and no convincing external conflict. But I said also, there’s nothing overtly “bad” about it. It was only after I started to think why it didn’t work, that I fully grasped all of the above. But then again, when I ask myself what I liked about it, I can’t come up with an convincing answer. It was easy to read and there were a few things I remember thinking something like “that’s good” but I can’t recall specific things. So what to make of it?

Last thoughts:

  • I thought Thomas the most interesting character.
  • The dowager Duchess is a bit much.
  • Do the problems I had with this novel stem from the fact that it tells only part of the story?

Would I recommend this novel? Maybe, although there are novels by Quinn I liked better.

Would I read this novel again? Probably not.

Grade: 3 / 5 (my usual grade for a “meh” book; going down when I think about it too much)


6 Responses to “Julia Quinn – “The Lost Duke of Wyndham””

  1. Carolyn Jean Friday, July 11, 2008 at 5:55 pm #

    I love the way you analyze these books, looking at the working parts. It’s fun to read. I don’t know the novel, but historicals can really go meh for me, too sometimes.

  2. Taja Saturday, July 12, 2008 at 6:38 pm #

    Thank you, Carolyn Jean. Iโ€™m often not sure what to write in my comments. I donโ€™t like much to retell the plot (skip over that in most reviews I read) but Iโ€™m also not a very gushing kind of person, so I guess I tend to (over)analyze to have something to write. ๐Ÿ™‚ I hope I manage to make clear that my comments are totally subjective and reflect what worked / didnโ€™t work and the why for that for ME.

    This weekend, my reading is paranormal all the way! ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. Kristie(J) Sunday, July 13, 2008 at 1:36 pm #

    After taking a break from Julia Quinn midway through the Bridgerton series, I decided to try her again with this book. I still haven’t read it yet, but I’ll be curious to see what I think of her writing after taking a break.
    The problem I have with historicals these days is now that I’m older than when I first started reading them, I can’t relate to the heroines as much anymore. And second, I’m so TIRED of reading about all the dukes, viscounts etc. etc. I would enjoy historicals much more if they weren’t so many ‘titled’ ones.

  4. Taja Sunday, July 13, 2008 at 8:29 pm #

    Hi Kristie. I think it was probably thanks to the writing that I realized only after I finished the book that not all was shiny with this novel. Of course, this is very subjective and English isn’t my first language so… ๐Ÿ™‚

    I mostly read historicals when I started reading romance novels. Nowadays, I avoid certain plot elements/lines much more than then. Don’t get me started on the innocent miss – experienced rake thing. Or the spy thing (I have Joanna Bourne’s Spymaster’s Lady but I can’t really bring me to read it because of it). And I try to space reading them out so that it doesn’t look as if all of England were titled back then. Of course, when I look at category novels, it seems billionaires are the new dukes; then there are the vampires in paranormal … It’s a good thing I read all over the place ๐Ÿ˜‰

  5. KristieJ Sunday, July 13, 2008 at 10:20 pm #

    Oh I do hope you change your mind about The Spymaster’s Lady!!! I got tired of spy stories long ago and stopped buying/reading them too. But the buzz on this one was too hard to resist and I’m ever so glad I didn’t resist!!!! I LOVED it!! I’m reading My Lord and Spymaster right now – and I am LOVING it too.

  6. Taja Tuesday, July 15, 2008 at 4:27 pm #

    Kristie, I’ll get to – eventually … ๐Ÿ™‚

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: