Cover Image: A Duke, the Lady, and a Baby

A Duke, the Lady, and a Baby

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Member Reviews

Thanks to Zebra Books and Netgalley for giving me this book for an honest review. From the cover and description, I was expecting this to be like a new adult romance set in 19th century England. I did like the historical elements of this book, our widowed heiress Patience Jordan was brought to England through marriage from Demerara, which is modern day Guyana. When we meet her love interest, I didn't feel very much chemistry and I was expecting a hate to love kind of relationship, but I never got those feelings when I read a good romance. I was pretty disappointed because the writing was so good and the premise could have been SO good! If you liked this book, or even if you didn't, you should try Bringing Down the Duke, the first book in the A League of Extraordinary Women series. This is the historical new romance that set the bar for this book to meet.
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First: the title and illustrated cover might lead you to believe that A Duke, the Lady, and a Baby is a screwball Regency rom-com. It is not. While there are some humorous moments between the hero and heroine, the backstories of all characters and the plot involve some very heavy topics—depression and suicide, infidelity, amnesia, war injuries, a mother forcibly separated from her child and sent against her will to a psychiatric institution … do not judge this book by its cover, because you will not get what you’re expecting.

I had a hard time really immersing myself in A Duke, the Lady, and a Baby because I initially had trouble following the characters and plot—everything was just a little too vague and mysterious. I pushed through, though, and by about a quarter of the way in the broad skeleton of the story had become clear. I really like that Vanessa Riley has written a diverse Regency romance; the population of nineteenth-century England included people of color, but most romances written about this period are entirely white. Kudos to Riley for breaking that convention (and I think following books in this series will also feature POC main characters). Probably the strongest element of the novel is the way it explores the unequal structures of race, gender, and class in England during that period.

It’s a little on-the-nose to name the heroine Patience, because that’s something both she and the reader need in abundance: this book moves slowly. Before Patience and hero Busick (OMG, what a name) can get together, they need to resolve the mystery of her first husband’s debts and death, and that’s the A plot of the book; the Patience-Busick romance is secondary. Interestingly, Riley writes the Patience chapters in first-person, while the Busick chapters are in close third. This means the reader gets more insight into what Patience is thinking, though Busick is a well-written hero and he’s certainly not mysterious or unknowable.

While I don’t think A Duke, the Lady, and a Baby will become a re-read for me, I am already very invested in the couple who will be the focus of book #2 in this series, so I’ll definitely pick that one up when it’s available!
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Thank you for letting me read and review this book. Unfortunately this book was not for me. I think I have a case of pandemic reading.
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Unfortunately, this book wasn't my favorite.  I found it hard to follow and just couldn't get into it.
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This was a little bit of a disappointment. I really wanted to like it because I felt like the plot has great potential. I just feel like it wasn't executed properly. 
I really enjoyed Patience as a character. She was determined and strong-willed. However, Busick was really annoying at times.
As for the plot, there were many issues that had to be overcome, but everything just seemed to wrap up too quickly and without any repercussions for the characters. 
Lastly, I felt like the romance was too insta-love. They both seemed to develop feelings for each other as soon as they met (as themselves).
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Vanessa Riley possesses great writing abilities, and I was intrigued by this book from the opening chapter. Regarding rep, we have a WOC immigrant heroine, Patience, and a disabled hero, Busick. I also love that Patience's baby son, Lionel, plays such a prominent role in the story. The three of them make a delightful trio.

Sadly, as the book went on, it did get a little slow for me and I didn't feel as motivated to keep reading. The most off-putting parts were the POV jumps - Patience's chapters are written in 1st person POV, whilce Busick's are in 3rd person. It was really jarring for my brain to switch every chapter and made the story more difficult to follow.

I'm interested in checking out Riley's other work, but overall I had a difficult time getting through this book. 

Thank you to Kensington Books via Netgalley for providing me with an eARC in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.
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Thank you so much for the copy of A Duke, the Lady, and a Baby. I tried to pick this one up a few times, but I was not able to connect with the story line and characters. Unfortunately, it did not work for me. Thank you again for the opportunity to read this one. 

I will not be sharing my thoughts/reviews outside of Netgalley in a review
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I really wanted to love this book, especially knowing it's written by an author of color and has a main character that is a POC.  I really liked the more socially-relevant aspects of this book, especially sexism and racism, though. I thought they were handled and discussed well. I also like that, though Patience was struggling, she's still an empowered woman who knows what she deserves. But, of course, I'm mostly here for the romance, which was unfortunately pretty lacking. I thought it was underdeveloped and I didn't really see the chemistry.
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Das Buch startet recht mysteriös in London 1814 in Hamlin Hall. Die Herrin muss sich, verkleidet als Bediensteter, ins eigene Haus schleichen, um ihren Sohn heimlich säugen zu können. Sie versucht ihre Unterlagen zu stehlen, damit sie das Schiff nehmen können. Ihr Mann Colin ist nicht zurückgekehrt und sein Onkel Markham hat sie wegbringen lassen. Der 24-jährigen Patience droht die Irrenanstalt Bedlam. 
Doch dann kommen Viscount Gantry und Busick Strathmore Duke Remington an. Er ist auf der Suche nach seinem Mündel, um Markham zu stoppen. Man wird ohne großes Federlesen gleich mitten in die Eingangsszene geworfen. Die Geschichte startet direkt mit hohem Tempo und fesselt schnell. Sie zeichnet sich durch feine Situationskomik aus.
Countess Lady Shrewsbury hat Patience und Jemina aus Bedlam gerettet. Sie führt einen Zusammenschluss von Witwen, zu ihrem Schutz und zur Stärkung ihrer Rechte. Damit Patience weiter Zugang zu ihrem Baby hat, schleusen sie sie mit einer traurigen Geschichte als Amme ein. 
Das Versteckspiel hat mir etwas zu lange gedauert und zur Mitte des Buches gibt es etwas Längen. Sonst hat die frische Geschichte gut unterhalten können.
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Trust and trauma are also central to Vanessa Riley’s A DUKE, THE LADY, AND A BABY (Zebra Books, 312 pp., paper, $15.95). Let’s be frank: This cover and title will mislead you. The baby in the title and those graceful silhouettes might suggest a gentle screwball comedy, perhaps one with a hilarious scene where a bath gets out of hand and someone gets splashed. You will not be expecting the lady to be a widow who escaped from Bedlam, or the duke to have lost a limb in the war, or the baby to be the heir to a fortune. This cover and title are like advertising a string quartet and then dropping “The Phantom of the Opera” on the audience’s head, chorus and chandelier and all. Personally, I was delighted: Riley is at her best when she lets her Gothic impulses out to play. This book made me wish for howling winter winds and guttering candles so I could properly appreciate the shivers. Readers on the lookout for Black or disabled characters in historical romance will not want to miss this.
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I enjoyed this book.  I would recommend it to others and I would like to read more from this author in the future.
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A fascinating historical. I enjoyed a refreshing trope on the Duke trope.

Many thanks to NetGalley, the publisher, and the author for my ARC. All opinions are my own
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2.5/3 stars

I had pretty high hopes for this book. The plot sounded promising and the first few chapters were intriguing enough.

However, I started to lose interest. I did not resonate with any of the characters, I couldn’t get myself to believe in the main romance and the honestly, I was confused about the main conflict. I think the confusion is mostly my fault for not trying hard enough to understand, but honestly I did not get it. 

The story had some cute points, mostly centered around Lionel. I think it is a pretty standard historical romance (not in a bad way) but it just did not work for me.
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This historical romance had an intriguing plot, but was not as well executed as I thought it could have been. Patience Jordan was a woman who had been victimized and manipulated by Markham, her late husband's uncle. Her safety and that of her child, Lionel, had been jeopardized by Markham's actions.
Then the Duke of Repington comes to the rescue and rids Hamlin Hall, Patience's former residence of the evil Markham. The Duke becomes the new guardian of Lionel and Patience disguises as a nanny to be with her child.

The author did an excellent job of researching the historical background information for this novel. The social mores of the time with regard to mixed race women and widows was very interesting as was learning about the military exploits of England.
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What a fabulous story. I was enthralled by the irony of a woman of color being separated from her child after the death of her husband and then being hired as his nanny. The historical context and research were very impressive and the romance was swoony. I enjoyed Riley's wit and talent for dialogue.
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This is the first book I have read by Vanessa Riley and there was a lot to like. The main characters were compelling and their love story was sweet and endearing. There were also many interesting secondary characters who seem likely to get their own books in the future. The author seems to have done her historical research and I feel like I learned some things about the time period. My only complaint about the book is that it jumps back and forth between 1st and 3rd person narration, which I found distracting and confusing at times. I will definitely read future books in this series.
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In the author’s notes at the end of her lively new historical romance, Vanessa Riley reveals that England was the home to at least ten thousand people of Black or mixed-race ancestry during Jane Austen’s time. Regency romances typically feature love stories between members of the white aristocracy. Fortunately, a growing number of writers have been creating characters representing the diversity among the English populace at the time.

This first book in the Rogues and Remarkable Women series introduces Patience Amelia Jordan, former Duchess of Repington, a courageous young heiress originally from Demerara in the West Indies (now part of Guyana). Ever since her husband Colin’s suicide, Patience has been treated abominably by Colin’s uncle, who had her thrown into Bedlam for a trumped-up reason.

Now she’s forced to sneak into her marital home, Hamlin Hall, disguised as a groom in order to feed and watch over her son, Lionel. Then the new Duke, Busick Strathmore, arrives to take up his position and Lionel’s guardianship, starting afresh by dismissing all his predecessor’s staff. With the support of the Widow’s Grace, a group of widows helping her regain custody of her child, Patience becomes Lionel’s wet nurse and nanny while seeking evidence about the true nature of Colin’s financial dealings and mysterious death. Over time, Patience and the Duke form a tentative alliance that turns flirtatious and develops into love.

Their connection may seem subdued and cerebral, at first, when compared with other romance novels. However, I found Riley’s style of subtle, character-driven love story a refreshing change. Repington is a wounded soldier who had lost his leg during the Siege of Badajoz and, while adjusting to his new situation, plans his return to the battlefield. He quickly comes to love Lionel, though as a military man, his child-rearing methods are amusingly rigid.

Patience is a loving mother who wants only to return to her island with Lionel, but the Duke may change her mind. Riley also draws on elements of Patience’s cultural heritage to illustrate who she is. I particularly liked the scenes in which she debates praying to the Demararan god of protection but wasn’t sure if he had any control over what happened in England, and another where she dons a traditional, marigold-colored dress that her beloved late mother crafted. I did wonder why the Duke didn’t uncover Patience’s real identity sooner, and the shifts between Patience’s first-person viewpoint and the Duke’s third-person perspective feel unnecessarily distancing. Overall, though, I enjoyed this romance between two courageous, kind people, both outsiders in different ways, who genuinely respect each other. Patience’s marriage with Colin seemed a bit shaky, but I sense that her new relationship will endure.

And as for “Busick” – it’s not a traditional romance name, but it fits the period. (For example, Sir Busick Harwood was a well-known English physician who died in 1814, the year this novel takes place).
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I had heard a lot of praise for A Duke, the Lady, and a Baby before reading it.  I'd read one Vanessa Riley book previously but it was very different from this one.  I have to say it took me a while to warm up to A Duke, the Lady, and a Baby. The writing style seemed a bit choppy to me in the beginning and I had to get used to the thought and speech patterns of the characters.  I also tend to struggle with first person pov and this book switches between first and third. But once I became accustomed to reading it I  really enjoyed the story. 

I think the plot was original and creative.  I actually found myself really liking all of the characters. I enjoyed Patience as a heroine. I love that the romance genre is becoming more diverse and inclusive. I applaud Vanessa Riley for presenting a truly entertaining read that also showed representation to multiple groups of people who are often left out of the romance genre,  and especially out of historical romance. 
 
Riley touched upon some really tough subjects and really hard truths in A Duke, the Lady, and A Baby. She addressed the issues of war and colonialism. She really made me feel for Patience and her experiences as a woman of color in Regency England  and for Busick as a disabled veteran. But I really loved that through both of their struggles they were able to be there for each other and to be a strong relationship. I loved how much they both strived to help each other,  to look out for the best interests of each other,  even when they didn't fully trust each other.  I loved how much they both accepted each other and how Busick immediately cared for the baby. I enjoyed Busick's humor and thought it really added to the story. 

To be honest I questioned when we would get to the romance in this book but as it moved along I realized that the pacing was right for the situation the characters were in.  This was not a romance that could be rushed as there was too much to be resolved before there could be a believable happily ever after.  

I was really drawn in by the secondary characters as well and I'm now quite anxious to hear their stories.  I'm looking forward to reading the upcoming books in this series. 

I also really appreciated that Riley included extra information about the realities of diversity in three regency era as well as explaining the language and terminology that she used through out the book.  

Overall I  found myself really enjoying the book in the end.  I actually thought it was very well written,  even if the style took some getting used to for me.
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Patience Jordan is a recent widow who is trying to regain custody of her son. She hides her identity and gets hired as her sons nanny by her sons new guardian, the Duke of Repington. She is also trying to determine why her husband died and gain access to her considerable fortune.

This book had so much going for it, a fun storyline, great supporting characters and the potential to make a really nice love story. I just had a hard time with the writing on this one and some of the choices made by the author for the character of the Duke.

First of all, the chapters alternate between the POV of the Duke and Patience. The Patience chapters are written in first person, and they make her sound insufferable. SO many similes and metaphors, that it became annoying and unnatural sounding.

The Dukes chapters are written in third person and much more readable.

The other thing that was a bit strange to me was the Duke's obsession with military drills and scheduling. I got that he was injured and wanted his military career back, but this was just weird. And personally, I found it hard to believe that Patience was falling in love with him while he was so obsessed with the military.

With all that being said, there second half of the book was a lot more readable. The Duke drops some of the military stuff and the Patience chapters are more readable. The action picks up and there are some really great scenes between the Duke and Patience.

There were some loose ends that were never resolved, but it seems like there will be another book.
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I loved the female lead but was not a fan of the male. I keep trying historical romance, and keep getting disappointed by the male leads. I am looking forward to the next book in the series, because I do love historical women giving a big old F U to societal standards and kicking ass.
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