Member Reviews

3.5 stars rounded up

Super sweet (if short) story full of feels.

20 years of pining for his valet have to be enough. Donovan, our titular Duke, decides that it his high time he does his duty to his title and marry, and he believes it wouldn't be fair to have a valet he is in love with around - even in a loveless marriage of convenience that leaves him unhappy. After all, he has learned that his feelings don't matter, and that doing the responsible thing is what matters most.

But Geoffrey has other plans. Receiving his notice, he sets out to get the man he has loved since they met to enjoy life and have a bit of fun. And maybe even to confess his feelings...

While this story was short, I really enjoyed the main characters. The longing between the two was adorable, and there was never a doubt that they'd make it work. Loveable characters, no drama, a few laughs (Donovon literally unbuttoning his collar and enjoying life was adorable), and a sweet and well-deserved happily ever after.

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Historical romance. Regency-era England. Book 7 of the Lords in Love series. Donovan is being pressured by his mother to fulfill his ducal duties to marry and young lady and sire an heir. He has no interest in doing so and only has eyes for his valet of twenty years, Geoffrey. Knowing that he would not want to be lusting after his valet when a wife is in residence, he dismisses Geoffrey as his valet. However, Donovan and Geoffrey must first make a visit to the Marrywell Matchmaking Festival so that Donovan can select a bride. While in Marrywell, they’ve agreed to act as friends instead of master and servant and find themselves finally giving into the attraction between them all these years. This one is a quick read with a nice resolution, especially since Donovan has a younger brother besotted with his wife an a bunch of children to take the role of heir.

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Genre: MM historical romance

Donovan, Duke of Southbury, has been hounded by his family for years to find a bride. But twenty years ago, a French valet named Geoffrey Vachon entered his life, and he’s never looked at another person the way he looks at Geoffrey. Their relationship has always bordered on inappropriately friendly, and Donovan knows that when it comes time to search for a wife, that he can’t be faithful to her and have Geoffrey under the same roof. So he bestows a years’ severance and a fortnight’s notice…only to realize that he truly cannot live without the burly and fashionable French valet.

An immensely charming and quick novella. A few “romance reasons” style plot devices, but a truly enjoyable MM romance filled with pining and a deep abiding friendship. There’s a lovely gentleness with a caretaking component to the story. Geoffrey has dressed and cared for Donovan for twenty years, so Donovan insists on trying to care for Geoffrey in return. (And ends up with rumpled clothes himself, because of course a starchy duke would be totally inept at literally everything about his own appearance.)

The arc of the story is short as befits a novella, and there’s the perfect (for me) amount of character development leading to some moderately steamy romantic scenes.

Undressing the Duke is book seven and a part of a larger series of novellas authored by Darcy Burke and Erica Ridley, but they are thematically connected rather than reliant on one another for plot. I started with this one for Pride month, and may return to read others when I need short and satisfying novellas not linked to longer series.

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Listen, Romance novellas are almost never going to have the kind of character or relationship development that we get in a full sized novel. That used to really bother me and I consequently didn't love novellas - what I tend to love about the romance genre is seeing that development over time. However, recently I've decided to let go of that and treat novellas as something just totally different.

The relationship here really worked for me - particularly because the characters had known each other for over 20 years. I immediately could feel the pining (boy do I love pining). I was a little nervous because of the class difference but I think Erica handled it well particularly for a novella.

I picked this up on a whim partly for queer historical romance bingo and I do recommend it! It looks like it's part of a series/anthology and I haven't read the others but I may revisit at some point. I do always feel very accomplished when I finish a novella! This one probably took me about 30 minutes to read.

Thank you to Netgalley and Webmotion for the eARC in exchange for a review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

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3 "sweet and sexi potential" stars !!

Thank you to Netgalley, the author and Author Collective 20. I am providing an honest review. This will be released 16 June 2023.

This is my Pride Read of 2023.

The Duke is 36 and yet to be wed. He is madly in lust and love with his sexy valet of 20 years. They play chess, and violin and have long intimate chats. A week away to find the Duke a wife leads to a getaway of great fun and romance and coming to terms with their love.

The story is predictable but still very sweet, sexy and romantic. Some of the banter is quite funny and the sex scenes are tasteful but fairly vanilla. You want the Duke and Valet to be together forever and ever. Can their love survive the rules of Regency England ?

A tightening of the writing and adding a villain or villainess would have brought this good enough three star read to a more wicked and delicious four stars.

Happy Pride Everyone !

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I just love Erica Ridley's writing. I try to read everything I can by her. This was a well written, interesting story.

The only negative I have is that it, like many of her stories, was too short. Don't get me wrong. This story wasn't missing anything. The plot progressed at a good pace and didn't leave anything out. I just wasn't ready for it to be over. However, even though it was so short Ms. Ridley did a great job with developing the characters enough that I actually cared about them. The fact that I've read some books that are twice or thrice as long and the characters never fully develop enough for me to actually care about them just shows how talented Ms. Ridley is.

This was the first book I have read that was set in the Regency Era in England that involved 2 men as the main characters. I was surprised by that but pleasantly. Their love was believable. They made me happy.

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"When the notoriously buttoned-up Duke of Southbury is forced to attend a matchmaking festival, he knows it will end in solitude—just like every soiree and ball. The duke doesn’t want a bride. He wants his charming French valet, Vachon. An untenable situation the duke refuses to admit, even to Vachon. The only way to avoid scandal—and the pull of temptation—is to dismiss his handsome valet before Southbury says or does something that cannot be taken back."
The Duke is in love with his valet and nothing could change this fact. The valet is in love with his master.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publish and NetGalley. This in no way affects my opinion of this book which I read and reviewed voluntarily.

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A great love story with twenty odd years in the making, which finally comes to fruition. I loved both Geoffrey and Donovan and how they finally find the future that neither of them thought would be available to them. It’s a great m/m story that is definitely worth reading,
I received a free copy of this book via Netgalley and are voluntarily leaving a review.

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