by Evie Dunmore
Published by Berkley
Release Date: September 3rd 2019
Genres: Romance, Adult
Format Read: ARC, eBook
Buy on Amazon
A stunning debut for author Evie Dunmore and her Oxford Rebels, in which a fiercely independent vicar's daughter takes on a duke in a fiery love story that threatens to upend the British social order.
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....
I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
All Annabelle Archer, newly enrolled Oxford student wants is a good education and a place of her own where she doesn’t have to work herself to the bone for her gross sexist cousin and is that really too much to ask? Unfortunately for Annabelle she also has the added pressure of making enough money to send back to cousin Gilbert so he won’t pull her out of school, spending the rest of her free time working for the Women’s Suffrage Movement (they gave her her scholarship to go to Oxford) and the unfortunate circumstance of being hopelessly in love with the most stubborn and immovable Duke in all of Victorian England.
It hurt to see main character Annabelle struggle with hunger, poverty and being seemingly alone in the world with no one to care for her. She quickly makes a group of friends who are high above her in station but they don’t give a fig. Best friend Hattie, highborn daughter of some kind of financier was so sweet, funny and likable with a determination to rival Annabelle’s own. I loved her so much I wanted to squeeze her.
This book starts out as a slow-burn, enemies to lovers romance but soon turns into an all or nothing relationship because the Duke of Montgomery does absolutely nothing halfway. He wasn’t my type- possessive and aggressive isn’t really my jam but I still enjoyed the will-they, won’t-they, how-can-they push and pull as these two people who are so attracted to each other try to navigate their vastly different political views and social standing.
Annabelle is a complex character who struggles with her own yearning for total personal and financial freedom with her internalized societal ideals of women. She wants to be in love, but doesn’t want to be held back and controlled. She wants women to be in charge of their own fates yet accepts that in this time period a woman needs a man for safety and security. I struggled sometimes to like Annabelle because she complained every single time about going to any event or being seen publicly as supporting women’s rights, and yet:
A. The movement paid for her education
B. The women stood by her through every scandal
C. Women should definitely have rights?!?!
Despite this I found myself really drawn to Annabelle. She is intelligent and outspoken, and fiercely protective of the ones she loves. She has been burned by scandal in the past and is hesitant when it comes to sharing her heart but knows she can’t live life detached from the people in it. Overall I really did enjoy this book! It reminded me of both Beauty and the Beast and Pride & Prejudice, two people who just don’t get each other and make wild assumptions taking the time to learn and grow to see each other as they really are.
This is the first in a series which will focus on several of the women introduced in the first book, so there were some threads left loose at the end. I’ll definitely pick up the next installment to see what happens with the characters and where they go from here.
Hi y’all, i’m Rachel! When i’m not reading or talking about books I can be found rewatching Buffy the Vampire Slayer for the 72nd time, working on my own novel, cheering on JMU football (Go Dukes!) and taking advantage of all the great museums and breweries Richmond has to offer.
Check out my instagram highlights and Goodreads page for more reviews of all the books i’ve read this year!