Cover Image: Verity and the Forbidden Suitor

Verity and the Forbidden Suitor

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Member Reviews

I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley and am voluntarily posting a review. All opinions are my own, 
Verity and the Forbidden Suitor is the second book in J.J, McAvoy’s Dubells series. It can be read as a standalone, but I recommend starting with the first book for extra context on the characters and their relationships, especially as the couple from book one play major supporting roles in this one, 
In theory, this book was fine, with the strongest point being the characters. Verity caught my attention as a secondary character in book one, and I mostly liked her and felt for her as she navigated her confined, lonely life. Thedore also makes for a nice contrast from the standard histrom hero: he’s a doctor, and we actively see him tending to a lot of sick people, some of whom even die. And the premise of their forbidden romance is interesting enough. 
But it didn’t feel like enough to maintain a full-length novel. Things moved at a snail’s-pace, and I felt like the development of the romance suffered for the amount of fluff that they had to pack in, so that the story would work. The abrupt inclusion of Aphrodite and Evander’s POVs in the latter half especially felt clumsy, especially when the prior book balanced lead and supporting character POVs much better. 
While I didn’t enjoy this as much as I hoped, I’m hopeful that any future books will be better and this is merely a bad “middle book” for a series. I would still recommend it to anyone who’s looking for a more diverse portrayal of the Regency era, a la Bridgerton.
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*Note: This ARC review was posted on on March 24th, 2023

In a sequel to Aphrodite and the Duke, Lady Verity Eagleman is experiencing her first season in London with her godmother and her famiily, the Du Bells. She instantly falls for Dr. Theodore Darrington. Unfortunately, Theodore is the illegitimate son of a Marquess, and doesn't feel like he'll be a suitable spouse for Verity, the daughter of a duke, even as his attraction towards her grows... 

My review:
Let me first say that I love this cover, as well as J.J. McAvoy stating right off the bat in an author's note that this is a regency romance with Black aristocracy, because this is fiction. Period. Like, this is all I need and I would love for more authors to write diverse historical romances based on this premise rather than creating some convoluted Bridgerton-esque "love cured racism" plot. 

Moving on to the story, I'm a big fan of class differences that result in the hero going like "I'M TOO SCANDALOUS/POOR/LOWLY FOR YOUUUU" and the heroine just refuses to give him quarter and clings on for dear life, which was pretty much the plot here. It was interesting that Theodore admitted his feels to her pretty much right off the bat, but then backtracks (of course he does lol; because he is, to use his own words, a Bastard). That being said, there doesn't seem to be a whole lot to base their relationship on by the time Theodore tells her he loves her (midway through the book; again, pretty early, and despite him still feeling like he's not good enough for her). 

Theodore is a cinnamon role hero. He says all the right things (he outrightly says at a dinner party he believes women have "harsh fates" in that their education is limited and they don't have a choice in marrying), and does all the right things (spending all his money on helping people who cannot afford his treatments). Same for Verity; she doesn't enjoy the Season and all its pretty falsities, and she would rather be studying at university or writing. They are characters that are entirely in line with the modern audience's notion of what is Right, which got a little boring at times. 

I think the passion between Theodore and Verity could have been amped up a bit. For example, I really enjoyed their clandestine encounter in Verity's godmother's house  and there's a lot of back-and-forth about Theodore being *unsuitable* for Verity. The build-up was great, but the follow-through kiss was anti-climactic. Speaking of which-

The sex:
The sex was low-heat, just a few pages and not very explicit. As I have not read J.J.'s other books, this could just be how she usually writes them. I don't think the heroine is aware of what an orgasm is before she has penetrative sex, nor is she aware of how one becomes pregnant (when he tells her he has to pull out, she doesn't get why). 

If you like diverse, family-centric stories and romances light on spice, then then I would recommend this book to you. That's not to say this book is low on the drama. There's a lot of familial conflict, ranging from Verity's brother refusing Theodore's suit of her, to the fact that Verity suffers nightmares from past abuse by her stepmother, and the drama of the last several chapters, which I won't spoil here but it was a lot. 

This book wasn't personally for me, but I deeply appreciate seeing more people of color on the cover of historical romances, as well as reading POC rep in stories down to their skin color and hair being explicitly described, and I commend J.J. McAvoy for this. 

Thank you to Random House Publishing Group and NetGalley for the ARC in exchange for my review.
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This book has:
- Forbidden love
- Class difference
- Black fmc
- Found family
- Diverse characters

I enjoyed this a lot more than the first book in the series. This book follows Verity, who is Duke Evander’s sister, and Theodore, who is an illegitimate heir and rising doctor. Verity leaves her family home and stays with the Du Bells after her brother gets married and finds herself surrounded by the love and warmth that she didn’t get as a child. She meets Theodore at a ball tending to a patient and later seeks his services for her nightmares and terrors.

I really like how realistic the romance between Theodore and Verity is. It grew from awkward interactions to a cute forbidden romance. Seeing the main characters' backstories and how their parents affected who they were was something I appreciated in this book. The beginning of this book was slow, but once it picked up, I couldn’t put it down. The banter between characters, family scenes, and lovable characters really made this book a great read. I really love the Du Bell family and enjoyed seeing Aphrodite and Evander interact in this book. The chapters leading up to the end had a nice action that I enjoyed.

Overall a good regency romance. If you liked the first book, you’d like this one even more, and if you like the Bridgerton tv series type book, you should read this!

Thank you, Random House Publishing Group-Ballantine and Netgalley, for this arc for an honest review.
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Could this series get any better? The answer is unequivocally...YES!!! The first book in the series, Aphrodite and the Duke, was a sweet story of lovers destined to be together. This book, however, is about what happens when two people, despite social contrasts, decide love is worth fighting for. Only one book has ever made me teary-eyed, and this book made me cry. I have already told my book club to read this. It's just that good.
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Verity and the Forbidden Suitor was so amazing! I enjoyed Aphrodite and the Duke so to go back on this regency romance world is great. Verity Had so much spirit that set her apart from her family. Dr Darlington’s charms she cannot resist, although society is against their union. The journey of falling in love gives me joy and it was a pleasure to read this arc and discover new favorite love stories! 
#verityandtheforbiddensuitor #NetGalley  
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First of all the world needs more diverse regency reads where we can just enjoy what is happening and this book fit the bill! I can't wait to read more by McAvoy and I'm sure that many others will agree with me!
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I received this book as an ARC for a honest review.This is the second book to this series and I enjoyed it as much as the first book. I love the main characters and would recommend.
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* Received a copy for review.* 
This book took a very long time to get started. About the first 25% felt like a rehash of book 1.  
I liked Theodore but overall the story was just flat. Verity’s past wasn’t being rehashed without much resolution.  the relationship seemed secondary. 
There is an audience that will really like this book but I am not it.
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This is my first book by J.J. McAvoy and I'm excited to back and read the first! A wonderful diverse historical romance with great characters. Loved the romance between the main characters and there was a great amount of humor as well. Really enjoyed this read! Thank you to Ballantine and Netgalley for this ARC in exchange for my honest review!
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Book 2 in this charming and spicy series set in Regency England, Lady Verity’s brother is a Duke so she could never marry Dr. Theo Darrington the illegitimate son of an Earl but love doesn’t know class or in this case race.  Like the Bridgerton series, Black, White and mixed race people exist without discrimination in the nobility.  Race isn’t part of the story, characters are what they are.  Class, however is a different story and strict societal  rules govern the lives of these characters. There’s adventure. love, intrigue and intimacy..
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Looking for a regency romance that feels like Brigerton but you have no interest in Julia Quinn or her cash grab?

Might I suggest @jjmcavoy's
Du Bells series? I've read both
#aphroditeandtheduke and
#verityandtheforbiddensuitor and I love
them both. Where other authors can't
picture black people in their stories with
happy endings the Du Bells removes
the "reality" of the time and gives you
pure romance. The characters are so
well done I find myself looking forward to each sibling getting their book as I would a Beverly Jenkins, Francis Ray, or Brenda Jackson series.

While there isn't much spice, what we
do get would make all the ladies of the
ton fan themselves in private and then
whisper to their friends.
So do yourself a favor and read both.
Thank you, NetGalley for the ARC. Verity
releases on April 11th.
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Thank you so much for giving me access to an arc, Netgalley! I really appreciate it. I was excited to gain access to this book because I really did like the first one in this series a lot. However, I found that this book fell short for me. The magic that I experienced from the first one in this series didn't come through with this one, at least for me. I think McAvoy is a very good writer. I thoroughly enjoy the things that she has put out in the past but I do not believe I will be continuing this series. Also...I wished there was more heat to this.
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I think I liked "Aphrodite and the Duke" a little better than this one, but it was still a beautiful romance, and I hope there will be many more books in this series!
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This is my first book by J.J. McAvoy, and I while this book was written well, I think that not reading her first book was to my disadvantage. Taking place soon after, "Aphrodite and the Duke," "Verity,' the sister of the Duke, goes to live with Aphrodite's family to explore the season and catch a husband. I won't give much away, and some of my concerns may have very well been introduced and addressed on the first book, so I won't go into great detail here. What I will say is that this book series borrows heavily from what one may know from watching "Bridgerton" or reading other Regency novels. McAvoy writes a note in the beginning of the book that states that "Black people are here," but they could have easily been anyone from any culture: there was nothing distinguishing about their characters that announced their heritage. Further, this is a romance with a sex scene in it. Within the confines of this book, that scene could have easily been left out, which pains me to say because I don't usually prefer closed door romance. That said, the struggle here for me is that I could not easily discern if this was to be a YA or a NA novel. There seemed to be an air of immaturity surrounding the Verity and Hathor and it radiated out toward the "adults" in the social set, but sex was had and marriage was on the horizon. There also seemed to be inconsistencies within Verity that I chalked up to not having the knowledge of the previous book and her immaturity. 

All told, I would suggest one approach this series in order. If my suspicions are correct, the next couple in the series started their courtship in this book and I am intrigued enough to see how it all began and what is next.
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Verity And The Forbidden Suitor is a fantastic historical romance by J.J. McAvoy.  Ms. McAvoy has produced a well-written book populated with a fun and diverse group of characters.  Lady Verity is left in the care of the Du Bell family while her brother and new wife are on their honeymoon and getting settled into their home.  Verity doesn't know what to make of the boisterous family and struggles to hide her secret.  Dr. Theodore Darrington was terse at their first meeting.  Now she seems to be bumping into him everywhere.  Verity and Theodore's story is packed with drama, humor, spice, action and suspense.   I enjoyed reading this book.  This is a complete book, not a cliffhanger.

I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book that I received from NetGalley. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
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I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book via NetGalley and Random House Publishing Group-Ballantine.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Rating: 4/5 Stars
Publishing: April 11, 2023
Series:  The Dubells Book 2
Pages: 400

I got a taste of JJ McAvoy’s writing with “Aphrodite and the Duke and was thoroughly impressed.  “Verity and the Forbidden Suitor” is no different and is also a wonderful read.  This is Verity Eagleman’s story who longs for a family life like the siblings in the DuBell home.  She is the sister of the Duke of Everely and has an attraction to the handsome Dr. Darrington, who is off limits to all the ladies due to his being an illegitimate of the Marquess of Whitmear.

The handsome doctor saved her brother’s life and their chance-by-chance meetings, melts away my heart as I root for the two to close in on their attraction.  Page by page it kept me drawn to the hero/heroine as they are loveable characters with all the banter.  I loved how their slow build sly attraction became a relationship with all the hidden getaways that they shared.  You can’t help but like the DuBell’s and all of their pomp and circumstance, but mostly the main characters who have underlying issues that set them apart as loners but finding solace in one another.

This is such a good read, and I could not put it down until the end. This became a one-dayer for me that’s how much I enjoyed it.  Looking forward to more of the DuBells from this author.  Recommend the read totally.
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This is my first time reading this author and I'm thoroughly impressed. This book reminded me of why I love historical romance. I loved the representation, the pining, the DRAMA, and the undying love.
This book was a major event. I loved how J.J. McAvoy developed the relationship between Verity and Theodore. It wasn't an instant love affair and let's act on this attraction. It developed over time throughout the book.
Verity wasn't looking for love at all. She wanted to fade into the background and go about her life. Theodore was happy being a doctor because he was an illegitimate heir. He didn't hope for much more in life. Theodore very much wanted to fade in the background too. He met Verity while tending to her brother's injuries and was taken by her. He didn't act on his feelings because he had nothing to give her. No title, riches, or property. Or so he thought. Verity wasn't looking for any of that. They were both dealing with demons from their past. I loved the way there were no easy fixes. There were still some loose ends once the HEA occurred.
This was a five-star read for me.
Trigger Warning: young child locked in a cabinet, verbal abuse, gun violence, murder, emotional & mental abuse, & mental breakdown
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I really enjoyed this book! I love the world expansion and getting to know new characters and their life stories.
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Verity and the Forbidden Suitor
By JJ McAvoy 
A Review by Jamilla @ LandsAwayBooks (on wordpress)

Aphrodite and the Duke was, in the first part at least, such a delicious second chance romance angsty escape, and I throughly enjoyed the chaotic, loving, numerous Du Bell family! So I was really pleased when I very casually came across this gorgeous cover on twitter, and realized that we were going to get another story from this world! 

Verity and the Forbidden Suitor is 80% fluff, 20% pinning and 100% fun. 

It follows the story of Lady Verity Eagleman, sister to the current Duke of Everely, Evander Eagleman, and how she came to be in the clutches of the most unexpected of suitors, the very awkward, and a bit gruff, Dr. Darrington. Who’s made wholly unsuitable for any titled lady, no matter his proficiency in his profession, by the mere fact of his birth, as a well known ‘cast off’ of the Marquess of Whitmear.  

Think sweet, think first blush of love. The relationship between our two leads had me melting and giggling. I enjoyed their banter and bickering and all their little moments hidden away together. It was at a nice spot between slow burn and lust at first sight and really gave me a feel of nostalgia for the classics of this genre.

As I have begun to expect from a McAvoy historical, we have a story that’s a bit more than just one of the road to love, we have a story featuring childhood trauma, suicide and lost love. I do think that this is the area of the story that felt the weakest to me, I can see that the author wants to tell a more substantive story, but it’s not quite there yet, which is a shame. 

All in all, a lovely way to spend the afternoon and I’m very much excited for the next pair in what I hope will be a long series! 

Thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for the eARC in exchange for an honest review.
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This is my second JJ  McAvory book (after Afphrodite and The Duke) and I swear, I need to dig into her backlog because she officialy has a chokehold on me with the historicals. This was a delight. I def can see this coming to screen some day.
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