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Cheers to the Duke

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Cheers to the Duke
Book 3 in the Widow's Brew series
Rating: 3 stars
Thank you to the publisher for the ARC given through NetGalley for review.  All opinions are my own.

Cheers to the Duke is the 3rd book and the series and not having read the previous two I could say that it can be read as a stand alone.  Characters from the previous two books do appear in this story and the female leads of the previous two play an important role in this story, but the author did a good job of making the story flow well and not easily get confused on who's who.
I gave this story 3 stars because I felt it was an okay romance.  It was slow paced and not much happens.  The romance between Edward and Jo was very mellow.  They do spend time together, but I felt bad for Jo because it seemed that she was forced into getting close to him.  Her friends, the party's guests and even the children made it impossible for them not to get close.  
I think so much meddling in their relationship made it forced, though I did like that Edward respected her decisions.  Some of the things that were said by the children made me feel uncomfortable for her.  It frustrated me that she never said anything. 
Overall, it was a sweet story of two adults who find love for the second time.
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Josephine Smyth-Waters is completely devoted to the Puddleton Manor benevolent home, and does not want to go to the christening party for the Earl and Countess of Darrow's new son. When one of the home's residents accepts the invitation on her behalf, Jo has no choice but to go.  There she meets the Duke of Grainger, the home's benefactor with whom she's been corresponding for months. When they finally meet face to face, sparks fly between the widow and the former solicitor turned Duke. 

While I liked the first two books in this series, this one fell a little flat for me. I enjoyed the characters, and really appreciated how communicative they were, but the insta-love trope and the lack of much real conflict made it a little dull. I did enjoy parts of it, and it was funny at times, and I'm glad Jo and Edward got the HEA they deserved in the end.  

Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for this ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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This was a well-written, entertaining book. It was sweet, charming, funny and I didn't want to put it down. I enjoyed this book and look forward to reading more books by this author.
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As the founder of the Home, Josephine Smyth-Waters is determined to be there for the women who need her. But when she receives the invitation to the christening party of the Earl of Darrow’s baby, it’s a temptation almost too strong to resist. Not only will Jo see friends and former partners Pen and Caro again, she’ll finally meet the Home’s generous benefactor.
Jo is determine to keep to the brew house and Women's home. She is determine to convince the benefactor that home and brewery are worth while and needed.

Jo has been writing to Edward Russell, Duke of Grainger, for months, eagerly anticipating his charming missives. But she never expects the duke’s looks to be as dashing as his words. It’s enough to make the lovely widow a little reckless.

Meeting Edward, Jo realize her life needs more attention and love. She needs to find a way to get Edward to visit the home and brewery so he can see for himself to continue spend the money they need .

Edward Russell knows his duty, no matter his less-than-positive opinion of the nobility. When Edward encounters Jo—capable, fun, and utterly irresistible—he’s delighted to find someone he truly connects with. A trick of fate has placed them on two different paths... but Edward is beginning to realize that perhaps he’s not the kind of man who does the expected thing after all.

Sally MacKenzie has amazing storytelling and fun lighthearted humor. Her characters have been a favorite of mine for years.

Alehouse series is one of greatest books I've read in a long tome.
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Cheers to the Duke by Sally MacKenzie is the third novel in the series called Widow’s Brew.  Josephine Smyth-Waters the widowed Lady Havenridge and two friends started the Benevolent Home for the Maintenance and Support of Spinsters, Widows, and Abandoned Women and their Unfortunate Children to help others and give themselves as safe harbor.  Unfortunately, Jo’s two friends went off and got married and she is left running the home.  However, she is forced to go see a christening of her friend's newest baby and leave the running of the home to others for a few days.

Edward Russell, Duke of Grainger is in need of a wife.  His son needs a mother and he needs a wife.  Since he is the technical owner of the land on which the Benevolent Home for the Maintenance and Support of Spinsters, Widows, and Abandoned Women and their Unfortunate Children is on. Jo has been writing to him about the home and its doings pretty often.  Neither expects to meet the other and most certainly neither expects the other to be young and desirable!

It is into this delightful scenario, Jo finds herself smitten by Edward and his son, but in no way willing to discuss marriage with them. The story is written in Sally MacKenzie’s style with interesting characters and a great storyline.  Cheers to the Duke by Sally MacKenzie was a good read.
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Edward Russell, Duke of Grainger, never expected to inherit the title. He was a former solicitor who had a young son to take care of after his wife's death and he carved out a good life for them, at least he thought he did. When the title comes to him, he feels overwhelmed by all the responsibility and wants to marry again, but the young women being thrown in his path only see his title and riches. He wants to fall in love again with a sensible woman. One of the most sensible women he knows is Lady Jo Havenridge who runs a charity house for women and their daughters. Edward's coffers fully support the Home and after a year of communication by mail, they are finally set to meet at a friend's christening. Can Jo relax enough to enjoy the party or will her worries over the Home continue to plague her?

I liked Edward better than Jo in this story. Jo is so controlling about every detail that she is slowly driving the very women away who only want to help make the Home a success. After a disastrous first marriage, Jo vowed never to marry again and have a man tell her what to do, but there's something about Edward's sensible character that speaks to her as a woman. There's so much internal dialogue though. I think a lot of it could be cut and the story would flow better. I also thought that Jo's friends were quite pushy even though they thought they were helping. Not much stands in the way of these two except their own self-doubts. While they eventually sort out their feelings to a HEA, it was a bit of a slog to get there.
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Josephine, Lady Havenrigde, has spent years building up a safe haven for women and children.  But when those same women conspire to accept an invitation on her behalf, she finds herself suddenly on the way to the christening party for the Earl of Darrow’s baby.  Edward Russell was a solicitor before fate shook the branches of his family tree and made him Duke of Grainger.  On a mission to find a new wife and mother for his son, Edward is thrilled to find someone like Jo that he truly connects with.  

This is the third book in the Widow's Brew series, where three ladies brew ale to fund a charity Home.  I recommend reading all three stories as the friendships are connected throughout.

This is a heartwarming romance where everyone is conspiring to push two individuals towards happily ever after, even if the heroine remains very reluctant.  The couple has been exchanging letters for over a year, as Jo's Home is on Edward's property.  There's an instant spark and Edward is ready to jump right in, but Jo has been unlucky in love and doesn't see another marriage in her future.  There was a lot of internal monologuing, but I liked the focus on the couple and thought there were some really cute moments.

Tropes: Matchmaking, Widow, Widower

* I received an ARC and this is my honest review.  #CheersToTheDuke #NetGalley
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I didn’t enjoy this as much as I have some of the other books by this author.  It all seemed quite repetitive.  The characters kept having the same inner monologues and discussions with each other.  The heroine was a bit of a drag as she alternated between resenting her friends trying to matchmake her and her own attraction to the Duke.  And then I’d be irritated at her friends deciding that they knew better for her what she needed and just ran roughshod over her own wishes.  It’s all supposed to be okay that they plot behind her back because they have her best interests at heart and it works out in the end, but I would find that quite aggravating if my friends treated me like that.

I voluntarily reviewed an advanced reader copy of this book that I received from Netgalley; however, the opinions are my own and I did not receive any compensation for my review.
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I really enjoyed reading, Cheers to the Duke! It is a great match making story. I like most was Edwards son Thomas, unintentionally was in on the match making. Really Jo never stood a chance.
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DNF at 25%

The writing left much to be desired. Lots of adverbs, showing and not telling, etc. The prose was also bogged down by the characters' internal dialogue. There was much more than necessary.

I'd also suggest adding a trigger or content warning about the mention of suicide, since it comes up often and could be upsetting for some readers.

I felt that Thomas was written unconvincingly. He could have been 17 or 7; his behavior ranged wildly. There were a few explanations that he was "wise beyond his years" but I was still distracted every time he spoke as I tried to remember how old he was supposed to be.

There  were some sweet moments, but overall not for me.

Please note that I inadvertently submitted the wrong review for this book. I'm editing my previously submitted feedback with the correct notes. Apologizes for any inconvenience.
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This is an amazing story. 
Jo and Edward are so much in love but neither one wants to admit it.
The truth will prevail.
Sally Mackenzie has written a amazing story.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher and NetGalley. This in no way affects my opinion of this book which I read and reviewed voluntarily.
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Lady Jo Havenridge is perfectly happy as a widow living contently in her charity home, making a home for women and girls who find themselves without a place to go. She definitely doesn’t need or want a man, and she certainly doesn’t want the Duke of Grainger. However, when she encounters Edward at a two week christening party, her wayward heart and body has other ideas. 

This book is perfect for people who want historical romances in country settings that feature house parties. The romance of Jo and Edward runs in course surrounded by close friends and family. As a dog owner and lover, Freddie and Bear were some of my favourite side-characters and I’d recommend the book for them alone.

This book is very focused on conversation and communication between the hero and heroine. I loved their banter, and the clear communication about what they wanted out of the relationship as they try to hide their romantic interest from the other members of the house party with occasionally hilarious results. If you like romance focused on communication, you’ll really enjoy this book.

I personally love a HEA that features epilogues where a child has been born of the relationship. However, I want to note it because I know some people find romances featuring infertility the end with babies or pregnancy are distressing.

Thanks so much to Netgalley and the publisher for giving me an ARC in exchange for an honest review!
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I will start by saying that I really enjoyed the romance story between Edward and Jo. Their romance came about so naturally and they were so perfect together. I especially enjoyed her interactions with Thomas because it took her zero effort to be kind and strike up a friendship with him - it also set up a great first meeting between Edward and Jo. I liked that they took time apart to determine what they wanted for their futures. Part of me wishes she hadn't gotten pregnant because even though I know that wasn't really the deciding factor for either of them I would have preferred that they make that decision without needing the extra "push". I felt like Jo was pushed throughout this book by others so it would have been nice for her to have gotten the chance to make a decision by herself. 

What kept this from being 4 stars for me was how much I absolutely hated all of the other women in this book. Their treatment of Jo was condescending and patronizing. They decided what her life should be and manipulated and pestered her into following that path. I know the argument will be "but it all worked out well in the end" but these women were supposed to be her closest friends. In all of their interactions with Jo they never really listen to her or take into consideration her feelings on anything. They all got married and decided that she should give up everything she had worked towards as a widow and get married too. I felt so bad for Jo in all of those scenes and was so glad that Edward did really seem to listen to her and think about what might make her happy.
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This is a good read. The heroine, Jo, is a widowed baroness who has finally found her place in this world. Confident in her cause, she now finds a woman she took in trying to usurp her in the home for women she helped to start. This usurping places Jo in a carriage on the way to a christening house party. There, Jo meets a duke and his son, and the plot thickens. Now our heroine is questioning so many things, she’s being charmed by a beautiful little boy, and the Duke is hard to resist. Watching Jo fall in love and discover that fairytales don’t only happen in your dreams, is just what I needed. 

I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
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When this book was suggested to me for review, I jumped at the chance because the premise was absolute catnip.

Working widow from the minor nobility who runs a charity helping women abandoned either pregnant or with small children meets Duke who used to be a barrister who unexpectedly inherited the title.  Here are a couple of people who are grounded in reality and have things in common and you might expect a really satisfying romance as they learn to get to know each other and bond over their work and ideas.

But no.

Instead, you get something a lot like what happens in Jr. High schools when your friends decide to set you up with the boy.  And the characters also have an emotional landscape best exhibited by 14-year-old girls. It ends up being odious and irritating.  Literally every single person in this book, without one dissenting voice, is all about getting the two protagonists together.  To the point where it becomes so oppressive that you actively hope that one of them dies so it all is thwarted. Or at least I did.

It is perhaps testament to my contrary nature that I found this absolutely eye-stabbingly ham-handed and awful.  When you get the precocious child asking the woman to be his mommy on their first meeting, and the father deciding he’s going to marry the woman at the first meeting, and all the friends trying to make them marry, you want her to run away forever. Screaming. And perhaps fake her death, change her name, and flee the country.

The words on the page are put there competently in a coherent order.  But the behavior of everyone in the story is so ridiculously juvenile-seeming that while I read the whole thing, I just kept getting angrier and angrier.  And the concluding trope was so tired and stuck in the 1990s that it made me angrier still. It is the only book by this author that I’ve read and I will not be seeking out another.  I think I was all the more disappointed because the premise is so good and should have been such a pleasure to read with other execution.

I hate giving bad reviews, so I am only posting it here to fulfill my obligation to review in this space for having gotten the galley. I normally post reviews in multiple outlets, but I do not wish this author ill.
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Edward is a wonderful man.  A solicitor elevated to Duke, he is a single father to Thomas.  Jo is a widow who runs a home for women and girls.  Her two partners have married and she is sort of lost.  I don't want to write a spoiler.  The story has some very lighthearted moments, but it also breaks your heart too.  Our characters grow on you and while sometimes I wanted to slap Jo, I understood her hesitancy to grab at happiness.  I look forward to the next story in this series and hope that I get to peek into Edward and Jo's lives a little more!
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This is the 3rd book in the Widow’s Brew series, and it is just as wonderful as the rest! Jo is the founder of the Benevolent Home. She is a widow who doesn’t want to compromise her freedom or her place in helping to run the home. 

Edward is a widower, Duke, and single father who is looking to remarry for a mother for his son. He is also a benefactor for the Benevolent Home, and has been corresponding with Jo through letters about its progress. 

These two are thrown together at a party by meddlesome friends who conspire to get them to the alter. Edward shows little resistance as he finds Jo charming and wonderful. Jo on the other hand, needs a little more convincing as she believes she will be giving up her freedom.

The romance between Edward and Jo was so sweet! I loved them. There was also some humor sprinkled in that was laugh out loud funny! 

** I was sent an ARC by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review**
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Lady Josephine Havenridge is a widow. She started Home as a sanctuary for women and children in dire need. Her two friends helped her run it, but the ladies had gotten married and moved with their husbands. She was feeling the pressure of having all the responsibility. She had been invited to her friend's house for a Christening.
Edward Russell, the Duke of Grainger, also had a christening to go to. He was looking for a wife. A year ago he had been a solicitor and now a duke. His young son, Thomas needed a mother. He could not handle the ton anymore. So he left early. He had been helping with the home, and he was excited he was going to meet the founder. They had been writing for at least a year. So they all got packed up, including bear and Thomas, and off they went.
This was a really cute story. I even giggled some. It was funny and encouraging. When she saw her friends again I enjoyed reading about the hugs and excitement among the three women. Jo's interaction with the other house guests was fun to read. It was wonderfully written and very entertaining. I highly recommend this novel and hope you like it as much as I did.
I received this ARC from Net Galley and voluntarily reviewed it.
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Josephine Smyth-Water, widowed Lady Havenridge,  started a house for widow ladies who have children that their relations don't take care of after their fathers have died to help the mother's take care of the kids  The duke of Grainger is the  benefactor who just recently became a duke he was a solicitor.  They both come to a get together for friend's daughter who they are going to be the godparents to and fall in love.  This was a good book
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Sally MacKenzie is an amazing author whose sense of humor is very amusing. I have really enjoyed all the books I have read by her. The witty dialog between all the characters was refreshing and made me chuckle often. This story was well written and kept me engaged. Loved this story.

This was a fitting end to a very entertaining series. I loved that the other characters in the series put in appearances in this book. Everything was tied up well.

An ARC of this book has been provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.
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