Title: A Lady for a Duke
Author: Alexis Hall
Publisher: Forever Publishing
Release Date: May 24th, 2022
Page Length: 480
Genre: Historical Romance
Age Range: Adult
Rep: Transgender, Lesbian, Queer/Questioning, Physical Disability, PTSD
A lush, sweeping queer historical romance from the bestselling author of Boyfriend Material—perfect for fans of Netflix’s Bridgerton, Evie Dunmore, and Manda Collins!
When Viola Caroll was presumed dead at Waterloo she took the opportunity to live, at last, as herself. But freedom does not come without a price, and Viola paid for hers with the loss of her wealth, her title, and her closest companion, Justin de Vere, the Duke of Gracewood.
Only when their families reconnect, years after the war, does Viola learn how deep that loss truly was. Shattered without her, Gracewood has retreated so far into grief that Viola barely recognises her old friend in the lonely, brooding man he has become.
As Viola strives to bring Gracewood back to himself, fresh desires give new names to old feelings. Feelings that would have been impossible once and may be impossible still, but which Viola cannot deny. Even if they cost her everything, all over again.
Content Warning: (from beginning of book) Some characters who knew Viola before her transition refer yo her deadname or use male pronouns when speaking about her in retrospect, but in keeping with the conventions of the period this is only in the form of surname and title.
Gracewood has a disability to which he and others will occasionally refer using ableist language. There are some reference to his suicide ideation, as well as reference to drug and alcohol abuse.
Thanks to Alexis Hall, Forever and Libro.fm for providing me with the ARC and audiobook in exchange for an honest review.
I’ve only read Boyfriend Material by Alexis before, but I had loved the banter and writing style that I was willing to give their historical romance a try. I am so glad that I did. Alexis did a great job at making the time period feel authentic and treating the romances in a realistic way. Alexis’ writing style was easy to read and it was easy to get lost in the book because of it. At first I thought the length of the book would be a detriment, since an almost 500 page romance is not typical; however, I thought it was the perfect length to handle all the themes and topics well. Handling PTSD, LGBTQIA+ discovery, and the overall complex social structure of that time really does take more than your standard 300 page book and I’m so glad that Alexis’ gave the themes time to breath.
I am happy to report that this is duo POV! We do mainly follow Viola, but we get a few chapters scattered throughout getting Gracewood’s POV which I’m so glad for! I love seeing from both sides and seeing the miscommunication in full lol. Speaking of miscommunication, I was so glad that Viola being transgender was not the main conflict within this novel! I wasn’t expecting it to be as I’ve found Alexis’ representation to be done well, but with the time period I was a little worried. I found all the representation done well, however, I am can only speak truly to Queer/Bisexual and not to the others. The romance between Gracewood and Viola are things dreams are made of! It was more that just a romance, it felt like true soulmates! And the amount of love those two shared were beautifully written and explored by Alexis! However, I do feel it is important to note that this is not what I would call a steamy romance. I would say it leans closer to clean than steamy; however, there are a few sex scenes described is a little detail, but that is well past the 70% point.
Not only did I love Viola and Gracewood, but I loved all of our side characters as well. In fact, the side characters were so loveable and I would love for Alexis to return to this group and explore them some more. If I were to label the group, I would consider it a band of misfits. They all don’t fit into this historical society perfect, but when reading it you could easily still see them in this world. People required to hide their love because it doesn’t fit the standards (and requirements) of society, mainly to reproduce heirs. Although there is one heterosexual couple in this group, they are all very accepting. Lady Marleigh, Louise, who was considered Viola’s employer was a no-nonsense smart woman who looked out for those she loved. Her husband and Viola’s brother, Badger, although not the smartest, had a heart of gold. Mira, Gracewood’s sister, was the main catalyst for most of the events and I found her bluntness absolutely adorable – her isolation made her question a lot of what was wrong with society. Lady Lillimere, does not care what society things and is very protective of those she loves. There are others that make up the group and others that are villains, but all felt like real people in this time period and that’s truly all I can hope for (besides loving them as I do).
As for the audiobook, Kay Eluvian, did a great job at delivery the emotions and making every character feel like their own. At no point was I confused at who was talking, who’s perspective I was in, and at no point did I think the delivery was flat. When the dialogue suggested chuckling or exhaustion, frustration or sigh of breath, Kay incorporated it within the deliver – not something every audio narrator does but I absolutely love when they do. I would definitely recommend the audiobook if you enjoy them.
Overall, I really enjoyed this book. I’m newer to Historical Romance genre, the limited experience I’ve had was either Tudor era or more mystery than romance; however, I can say that I will be returning to historical romance, especially if Alexis continues to write in that genre. The characters were well written and I enjoyed my time with them. The banter and love was exactly what I was looking for and you could easily feel the love between the two main characters and never questioned that their souls were meant to be together. Although I didn’t enjoy it as well as Boyfriend Material, I feel A Lady for A Duke was a great historical romance that I think those who enjoy 1800 romances would love. If you enjoy Alexis’ writing, then this is another one you’ll love.