Bringing Down the Duke by Evie Dunmore
Publication Date: September 3rd, 2019
Genre: Historical Rom-Com
England, 1879. Annabelle Archer, the brilliant but destitute daughter of a country vicar, has earned herself a place among the first cohort of female students at the renowned University of Oxford. In return for her scholarship, she must support the rising women's suffrage movement. Her charge: recruit men of influence to champion their cause. Her target: Sebastian Devereux, the cold and calculating Duke of Montgomery who steers Britain's politics at the Queen's command. Her challenge: not to give in to the powerful attraction she can't deny for the man who opposes everything she stands for.
Sebastian is appalled to find a suffragist squad has infiltrated his ducal home, but the real threat is his impossible feelings for green-eyed beauty Annabelle. He is looking for a wife of equal standing to secure the legacy he has worked so hard to rebuild, not an outspoken commoner who could never be his duchess. But he wouldn't be the greatest strategist of the Kingdom if he couldn't claim this alluring bluestocking without the promise of a ring...or could he?
Locked in a battle with rising passion and a will matching her own, Annabelle will learn just what it takes to topple a duke....
This book was an absolute delight. As a lover of historical fiction, a rom-com based around a group of suffragettes is a natural read for me. I am excited as well that this is the first book in a series that appears to be following each of the supporting characters/suffragettes.
Right off the bat, this books paints the perfect picture of Annabelle as she speaks to her cousin and convinces him to let her attend Oxford. She is sly, smart and not afraid to use either of these aspects to her advantage. With her main goal being to get an education and be able to get out from her cousin’s thumb, Annabelle will not let anything stand in her way and I love this in a main female character. A lot of the time this ‘trope’ can seem very heavy handed and unnatural but Dunmore was able to make this feel so authentic to Annabelle.
With the education-piece being such an important thing to our main character however, there was very little time actually spent on that part of the plot and more time was opted to go towards time between Annabelle and Sebastian. Which, honestly, makes clear sense considering this is a romantic read after all. The attraction between the two leads is obvious from the get-go and I really appreciated the clear differences in opinions that they each shared. Her being a forward-thinking woman and him being a very traditional man of the times. These differences allow for some great banter and very realistic conflicts. Not entirely dissimilar to a certain Miss Bennett and Mr Darcy.
With Bringing Down the Duke, Dunmore is able to shed some light on a part of history in a very fun way but also being rooted in the truth of that time. She touches on how women were viewed, some of the inner workings of the House of Lords, the women who stood up for their beliefs and the risks that they took to get a higher education, how not all women are able to think about their future romantically and sometimes needed to think practically and how opinions can change and mark history. She was able to do all of this while writing a fun, flirty and passionate story about a woman with nothing to her name and a Duke.
In all honesty, I am ready to do a re-read of this immediately if not for my packed TBR that I am still working through… not to mention all of the reviews I still need to write. If you are a fan of historical fiction, women’s rights, political conflict and, of course, a great romance, this one is for you!