One minute, Jemma Pears is a struggling theatrical make-up artist in London. The next, she’s been left a vast fortune by her estranged grandmother. The catch: she must marry a man with a title to inherit.
Jemma thinks this is truly impossible: she’s a romantic, searching for true love, not just a convenient marriage… and besides, where would she even find a titled guy?
Enter Ashford, the new Duke of Burlingham. His legacy: massive debts that he must pay back immediately or risk the bank seizing his assets. Or worse: his mother’s wrath!
When their lawyer hears of their situations, a secret match is made despite their mutual hatred of each other: through marrying Ashford, Jemma can inherit and Ashford can pay back his debts immediately. Problem solved. That is, until their marriage is leaked to the press and everyone finds out…
Now they have to play out the charade for at least a year or risk going to jail for fraud!
A hilarious pretense ensues and Jemma must battle against a crazy mother in law, a stuffy aristocracy, and finally, and most surprisingly of all, confusing feelings for Ashford.
*I would like to thank the publisher, Aria, and NetGalley for the copy in exchange for an honest review.
I love Meg Cabot and Sophie Kinsella’s wit and humor and they are my top go-to authors when I needed a good laugh. And so I give How (Not) to Marry a Duke a shot since it says it is perfect for the fans of the two authors. Only it was so far to be on the same league of Meg Cabot and Sophie Kinsella in my opinion. The plot has a lot of potentials but it just didn’t deliver.
Jemma is a theatre make-up artist who can’t seem to a catch her break. But her life is about to change. She just found out that she inherited a vast amount of fortune from her wealthy but estranged grandmother. However, she put an impossible condition. She must marry a man with a title. Her grandmother shouldn’t have even bothered with the will because her marrying with a guy with a title is not likely to happen. Where will she find such a guy anyway? But with a twist of fate, her lawyer introduced her to Ashford, the new Duke of Burlingham. His father died months ago and his investments and finances are all over the place, leaving massive debts he needs to pay immediately else the bank will take over of all of their assets. With a couple of days to decide what to do, Ashford cannot afford to let anyone get a whiff of the news, especially his mother. When his lawyer Derek told him he has a way to help him, he was relieved. Until he met Jemma and found out that Derek’s solution is to marry them off. He said the marriage will be beneficial for both of them anyway and no one needs to know about it aside from him and his assistant. Despite the mutual hate towards each other, Jemma and Ashford decided to go ahead with the plan. Jemma got her inheritance and Ashford pay their debts. But then the marriage was leaked to the press by a nosy clerk and now they both have to play as a loving couple until such time that they can file for divorce. But Jemma is in for so much more. Because being a duke’s wife means being able to deal with the highest class of society and not to mention a crazy mother-in-law.
I really want to like this book because like I’ve said it has a promising storyline. It’s like historical romance with the classic marriage for convenience trope but this one is set in the modern times. I haven’t got high expectations on it but I was at least anticipating something good. Unfortunately, I was left disappointed. It was a quick read but I still feel like the story dragged on as there’s a lot of unnecessary stuff happening that can be easily removed and it won’t make any difference. The romance took a long time to build up and it’s not even that romantic as I hoped. The chemistry between Jemma and Ashford is just lacking.
The characters are unlikeable aside from Lance the butler and Jemma’s parents who were characterized as hippy nudist. Jemma can be tolerable at times but most of the times, she’s just so immature and said things that I can only shake my head in disappointment. Ashford is no better. He is arrogant and conceited and so are everyone he socializes with. Those aristocrats are all snotty snobs and I refused to believe that there’s not one humble person in that lot. It stressed me how they call people names just because they don’t belong to what they perceived as normal. There’s even an instance where one of their own is being called witch and weird and they are mocking her because she likes to keep to herself and no one likes to be her friend because she is half-French and a marquise at that. Women are jealous of her because a marquise is the only title that can be inherited by a woman and thus she doesn’t need to marry to get a title. She was even bullied because of that. Are they for real?
It also took the hate-love relationship to a childish level. It may be forgivable the first couple of times but it gets exhausting pretty quick. I’m sure they can disagree whenever they want without degrading anyone and calling each other offensive names. Also, the narrative and dialogues can be stilted and I’m not sure if it’s because of the translation from Italian, but it sure didn’t help. It just seemed unnatural at times. It was marketed as a hilarious romantic comedy, and while there are some funny stuff, most of the jokes feel flat.
One thing I like though is how the lives of the nobilities in the book are. Although I can’t tell for sure if it’s accurate, it is sure interesting. Dinner parties here and there, charity events every now and then, the need for an invitation to every possible occasion even afternoon tea. On the whole, How (Not) to Marry a Duke is a promising love story but the execution is bland. I appreciate the author’s effort but it just didn’t work for me.