C2’s review of The Day of the Duchess (Scandal and Scoundrel, Book 3) by Sarah MacLean
Historical Romance published by HarperCollins 27 Jun 17
Greetings, Faithful Reader! Have you ever wondered what it would be like if the couple in your romance novel was divorcing?? Well, wonder no more, because that is happening in Ms. MacLean’s newest book, The Day of the Duchess. Intrigued?? You know you are! Let’s go! (There might be minor spoilers – BEWARE.)
When the book begins, Parliament is in session and Malcolm Bevingstoke, Duke of Haven, is surprised to see his estranged wife, Seraphina (one of the Soiled S’s), stride in and ask the assembly to grant her a divorce. Malcolm hasn’t seen her for years – has been searching for her – and suddenly she appears! (An aside – remember the dude that was pushed into a pond in The Rogue Not Taken?? This is him!)
Reader, this was not a case of spouses being bored and drifting apart. Malcolm and Seraphina separated because of a great deal of anger and pain that is revealed to us through flashbacks over the course of the book. The structure of this story is different than most – we have the current happenings and flashbacks from both Malcolm’s and Seraphina’s viewpoints scattered throughout. I will admit, I am not always the biggest fan of extensive flashbacks (ARROW, I’m looking at you), but it works here. The flashbacks help set up the issues and show some of the intervening time.
Seraphina fled into the night after a miscarriage. But it isn’t so straightforward as that physical and emotional trauma leading to their separation. They were already separated. Basically, Malcolm believes she trapped him into marriage (which she did, kind of) and is so angry, he doesn’t want anything to do with her – and has told her he doesn’t want children. After the miscarriage, Sera (with some help from her icky mother-in-law) flees.
She ends up in America – first singing at a pub and then owning a couple with her partner (and future hero), Caleb Calhoun. He offered her that first singing gig and they worked well together, so they became business partners. As the book begins, they have come to London to establish a business there. Sera has decided that being a wife is not for her – she would rather be a singing (in disguise) businesswoman. But before that happens, Sera must be granted the divorce. At the time, married women could not own property – indeed, they were not recognized as existing, except through their husbands. *snarl* A recurring theme throughout the book is the rights of women – or lack thereof – and how difficult that made everything. The feminism is strong with this one! Hooray!
I shan’t belabor every plot point – this isn’t a book report, yo. Instead, I shall give my impressions. First up, Malcolm and Sera – to me, when their relationship began, they were both quite immature emotionally. Neither had ever had a romantic relationship, obviously, and neither had the best view of marriage (him, because of his parents; her, because of the whole hunt-for-a-rich-husband thing). Then there was so much anger and pain between them and then she ran away before anything could be resolved. I think her leaving was a good thing, though. It gave them both time to mature a bit and learn about themselves…although, there is still a lot of anger when they meet up again. Ms. MacLean doesn’t shy away from the sadness or pain in this story. There is angst but also just enough drops of humor to keep it from being heavy-handed. Malcolm’s plan to require Sera help pick her replacement (so they can spend time together?), what could possibly go wrong there? Also, the sisters are a hoot!
So, how will it all be resolved? Will the duchess have her day? Will Malcolm and Sera manage to get a happy ending? And will they be together and happy?? You know I’m not gonna tell you, Faithful Reader. You must read for yourself! I will say I was happy with the grand gesture near the end of the book – it was nicely done. If you’re in the mood for a heroine who isn’t going to let sexist attitudes stop her from living her dreams, this book is for you.
Does it stand alone? Yes, actually. If you want to get a glimpse of them early in their marriage – and get a feel for the family background – you can read The Rogue Not Taken, though. It’s also very good.
The one woman he will never forget…
Malcolm Bevingstoke, Duke of Haven, has lived the last three years in self-imposed solitude, paying the price for a mistake he can never reverse and a love he lost forever. The dukedom does not wait, however, and Haven requires an heir, which means he must find himself a wife by summer’s end. There is only one problem—he already has one.
The one man she will never forgive…
After years in exile, Seraphina, Duchess of Haven, returns to London with a single goal—to reclaim the life she left and find happiness, unencumbered by the man who broke her heart. Haven offers her a deal; Sera can have her freedom, just as soon as she finds her replacement…which requires her to spend the summer in close quarters with the husband she does not want, but somehow cannot resist.
A love that neither can deny…
The duke has a single summer to woo his wife and convince her that, despite their broken past, he can give her forever, making every day
THE DAY OF THE DUCHESS
Read an excerpt.
Other books in the series: