Book Review: Anything But A Duke by Christy Carlyle
Print Length: 371 pages
Publication Date: April 30, 2019
Sold by: HarperCollins Publishers
Self-made man Aidan Iverson has seen more closed doors in his thirty years than he’s ever cared to count. As a member of the elite Duke’s Den, he has all the money he could possibly need but the one thing he can’t purchase is true power. If roguish Aidan can’t buy his way into society’s hallowed halls, he’ll resort to a more extreme measure: marriage.
Brought up to be a proper lady, the only thing Diana Ashby desires is to be left alone to the creation of her own devices. But when her dreams are crushed, she must find another way to secure the future of her invention. Knowing his desire to enter her world, Diana strikes a deal to arrange Aidan’s marriage to the perfect lady—as long as that lady isn’t her. She doesn’t need any distractions from her work, particularly of the sinfully handsome variety.
As Diana and Aidan set out to find him an aristocratic match, neither are prepared for the passion that ignites between them or the love they can’t ignore.
In the Duke’s Den, can happiness ever be a winning prospect?
A business arrangement transforms into an investment of the heart when self-made millionaire and investor Aiden Iverson meets the headstrong, ambitious inventor Diana Ashby. Diana needs an investor, not a husband. Her goal is to have at least one of her inventions to make it big so she can secure her family’s finances. Her mother prefers she gives up her dreams – the same dreams that ruined their father and diminished the family’s coffers – but Diana knows her work is better although being a woman makes it much harder for her to secure the backing she needs. Aiden hasn’t forgotten the brave warrior since she saved his life from wannabe thieves a year earlier. However, no matter how taken he is with her, he will not invest in anything he doesn’t fully believe in. He admires her passion so he agrees to help her meet other investors in exchange for her assistance in getting him a blueblood bride who’s heritage will open doors for him in society that not even his money can get him through. It’s not long before Aiden decides he wants Diana, but he has his work cut out for him in getting the reluctant woman to the alter.
Carlyle has created some wonderfully complex, relatable characters. The pair has chemistry from the moment they meet and it never wanes. Although both are focused on their goals, they don’t play games with each other, but their original agreement does slow the progression in their relationship – hazard of their integrity and the refusal of each to not hold up their end of the bargain. Aiden and Diana take time to get to know each other, with a few stolen kisses blended into the conversation, making their relationship development well-balanced and sensual.
Orphaned at a young age, Aiden is searching for his identity. This explains his determination to be accepted into a group that obviously doesn’t want him despite his huge bank account. He just wants to belong and my heart ached for him. Diana has the opposite problem. She comes from a loving family who lack the finances they need, however at no point does Carlyle turn the story into a give and take when it comes to family and finances – at least not in the way one would’ve expected.
I did grow tired of Diana’s martyr-like behavior. Once Aiden expressed his feelings for her, she continued to harp on how she’s not the right one for him because she can’t get him into the circles he so wanted. I lost count of how many times it was explained to her that his desires had changed, but she still insisted on ‘gracefully backing out’ so he could have the life he’d always wanted. After the third time, I was irritated and almost changed my mind about wanting him with her.
Nonetheless, it’s a good story with a steady pace, a lot of loyal characters, and a good setup for the next coupling, which I hope will be Dom (Diana’s twin brother) and Sophie, her best friend.
Rating system: Cups of Coffee (the less the better)
0: You won’t need any coffee to stay up for this one. It’s intriguing enough all on its own.
1: You’ll stay up late, but not all night. Brew one cup.
2: You’ll read as long as you’re not tired. If you are, two cups should do the trick.
3: I hope you got plenty of rest; you’ll need it, or at least 3 cups.
4: If the cable goes out, read the book. It’s better than nothing, I guess. Oh, don’t forget your brew!
5: Find anything else to do- it doesn’t matter what it is. Don’t waste your coffee. Too much caffeine is bad for you.