Thursday, March 21, 2013

{Joint Review} What I Did For a Duke By Julie Anne Long

Title: What I Did For a Duke
Author: Julie Anne Long
Series: Pennyroyal Green #5
Genre: Historical romance/regency
Published February 22nd 2011 by Avon
Goodreads summary:
For years, he's been an object of fear, fascination . . . and fantasy. But of all the wicked rumors that shadow the formidable Alexander Moncrieffe, Duke of Falconbridge, the "ton" knows one thing for certain: only fools dare cross him. And when Ian Eversea does just that, Moncrieffe knows the perfect revenge: he'll seduce Ian's innocent sister, Genevieve--the only Eversea as yet untouched by scandal. First he'll capture her heart . . . and then he'll break it.

But everything about Genevieve is unexpected: the passion simmering beneath her cool control, the sharp wit tempered by gentleness . . . And though Genevieve has heard the whispers about the duke's dark past, and knows she trifles with him at her peril, one incendiary kiss tempts her deeper into a world of extraordinary sensuality. Until Genevieve is faced with a fateful choice . . . is there "anything" she won't do for a duke?
Because we both harbor incredible amounts of love for What I Did for a Duke and have read it multiple times (Racquel four times, Sharon twice), we decided this was the perfect opportunity to try something new: a conversational review! Which may or may not have ended up including a lot of capslock, flailing, discussions of death by swoonage, and somewhere mixed between all of that, our thoughts about the book.

And these are just the highlights! The entire conversation actually wound up lasting 3 hours. We kid you not.

Also, scroll to the bottom if you'd like to see some of the "outtakes" from our conversation, too!

Okay, now that you have sufficiently prepared yourself, you may proceed to read our thoughts on one of the best historical romances we have ever read!

The story:
 
Sharon: Well, we may as well start at the beginning. The opening scene is one of the most original/hilarious beginnings I've ever read. I have so much love for it!
Racquel: I second that! It really is a nice way to set up the plot and the hero's motivation. A perfect first impression.
S: Not to mention it immediately gets me interested in the secondary character, who will most likely (or at least HOPEFULLY) be used in a future book.
R: Yes! I'm a big fan of Ian [the heroine's brother]. He's very… immature? I would like to see JAL turn him into a hero.
S: He is. He's very rakish, worldly, and seemingly - for the most part - carefree. Rather, he doesn't seem to care about anything important. But I think there is more to him than we can see, and I agree! I would very much like to see how JAL would write a book with him as the hero.
R: We also see that he really love his family which is definitely hero material so I guess it can be done!
S: Very true! That is one priority he definitely has in line.
R: I was actually worried about how much I would like the book but everyone was saying to read it plus it was 99 cents so why not? But the story is sooo much more than the summary lets one. Truly, truly romantic and clever
S: I know! I'm not a fan of the cover - I mean, WHAT is up with her hair? - and the title was kind of cheesy. But I got it from the library first. I bought it after I read it. SO WORTH IT.
R: Also the hero is quite tanned in the cover but turns out he was very white in the story. I totally had the wrong image of him in my head! And on my second reread, I changed his picture in my mind
S: I remember him being pale in the story, though, because it is so unique! The heroes are almost always tanned. Mysteriously so, since the majority are titled and spend very little time outside.
R: I agree!! It always make me go O.o
R: Okay. Story wise: I thought it would be very shallow and immature, the hero trying to seduce the sister of the man who cuckolded him, really? But it really was spectacular!
S: Very true! I do always enjoy those sort of plots when I'm in the mood for them. They can be a lot of fun! But this was so much more! It was so witty and emotionally captivating and beautiful.
R: Yes! Plus the hero and heroine were just so clever! Once they were comfortable around each other, they developed a beautiful friendship.

The romance 
 
S: YES. The relationship between Alex and Genevieve was the main reason the book was so amazing! I liked them both individually, and the way they played off each other was brilliant.
R: The book was PRIMARILY Alex + Genevieve and sometimes that doesn't work because it can get boring to just read about the hero and heroine but it couldn't have been more perfect in WIDFAD.
S: Good point! With it being set during a house party, there could have been a lot more going on with secondary characters/subplots. But there really wasn't. Although there was somewhat of a sideplot with Genevieve and Harry, it all tied together into the story of her and Alex. But it was so flawlessly executed that I wasn't bored for a single second. In fact, bored was the LAST word I would use to describe myself while reading this book. Enthralled, captivated, infatuated, addicted. All those would work, though. I mean, I was supposed to give blood the next day, so I was planning on getting a nice, long, refreshing sleep. Instead I stayed up until after 3 AM to finish this book. So worth it!
R: Exactly. It was simple and straightforward romance and really, simple here IS best. It really built the friendship between Alex + Genevieve and then moved it into a relationship and guh. Like you said, it was enthralling, captivating, infatuating, and addicting!
S: The development of their relationship was incredible! I love how they made the transition from complete strangers to acquaintances who recognized a kindred spirit to friends to lovers. I really think that's why I feel like they are one of the most real couples I've read in a long time, which is part of why I love them so much.
R: Yes yes yes and a million yeses. Usually the hero & heroine are attracted to each other and skip the friendship part but it was so refreshing to see the steps.
S: Speaking of awesome things about their relationship, JAL's ability to weave her build-up with romantic and sexual tension? HOLY COW. I wrote down in my notes that my hands were literally tingling with anticipation at one point.
R: HOLY COW indeed.  I swooned. A lot. I also clutched my heart a few times. Maybe giggling was involved too. And LOTS of sighs.
S: Um. YES. Clutching. Giggling. Sighing. Swooning, flailing, and let's face it, crying, because I cry at good happy endings. And this ending is magnificent.
R: Opps! how did I forget about crying? Because let's face it, who didn't tear up? Anytime I need a good laugh, and cry and for my heart to miss a few beats because the romance is THAT good, I go read a the last chapter of WIDFAD. I've read that chapter one too many times.
S: That book elicits so many emotions and reactions from me, it's kind of ridiculous.
R: All. The. (and in the words of my teacher) Feelers.
S: TRUTH. I really love JAL's writing in the book, too. I've read several of her books now, but at the time, I was struck by how great it was. It was so original! Her voice kind of reminded me of Loretta Chase with all the wit and humor, but it was a style all her own.
R: This book just packs all the romance punch. I dare say it's perfect (which is saying a lot since Devil in Winter by Lisa Kleypas is pretty close to perfection. Plus it's Lisa Kleypas!
S: Hmm. I wouldn't go QUITE so far as to call it perfection. Just because I am a horrible spoilsport about these things. But it was pretty. darn. close. The closest to perfection I'd had a book get in quite a while.
R: Which I didn't mind because when Alex declared his love for her, I nearly died. Actually, I DID die. [Inserts Alex's declaration of love]
S: I literally just squeaked. Just now. Just reading that. ♥ Apparently that's another verb I should add to the "Reactions I Had During What I Did for a Duke." Although my roommate was sleeping as it was after 3 AM, so I was probably trying to be quiet.
S: I think we've pretty much covered story. On to characters?
R: Let's do it.

The characters

S: Okay. Your thoughts on...Harry [a man Genevieve fancies herself in love with]. GO.
R: I liked Harry. He wasn't a bad guy! He just made a stupid decision. Plus he was young, and like Alex said about himself, he was a man, Harry was a boy.
S: You basically took the words right from my mouth. Aside from that one monumentally stupid and jerkish moment, he was actually a good pretty decent guy. He just needed to grow up.
R: Exactly! and it's not like Alex didn't make stupid mistakes. Or Genevieve. I bet Harry could be Hero material if JAL fast forwards a few years.
S: I was actually just thinking about that after I finished rereading it the other day. JAL could totally make Harry a hero, I think.
R: Onto Genevieve. I loved her and this line makes me love her:
"And why did anyone believe she was shy? She wasn't the least shy. Quiet was not synonymous with shy"
S: OHMYGOODNESS. YES. I relate so much to that line!
R: Genevieve totally knows herself and I love love love that. People might not know her but she knows herself and that's what matters!
S: I really think that's one of the most appealing things about her. What about Alex?
R: Alex also know himself and I loved that. Even though everyone was afraid of him because of all the scary rumors surrounding him, he didn't care!
S: I very much agree. I love a hero who knows himself. But while he is very determined and a demanding presence, he's also not afraid to have fun. He's so smart and witty. That's another thing I didn't expect when I went into it after seeing the premise: This book was FUNNY. I laughed out loud multiple times, starting in the very first chapter.
R: So much rumor and "danger" surrounded Alex and it was blown out of proportion but like the said, it suited him. But the people close to him, like Genevieve, got to see that he's not all that dangerous and he is funny and smart. And yes. The book was very funny! The dialogue is very very very strong in this book! I feel like every word was crafted in a science lab because it's just… perfect! All the witty banter was just so fun and It seemed impossible that an author could come up with banter THAT awesome!
S: Haha, I LOVE the science lab comment. It's so true! The "squeaking" conversation makes me die laughing. The "proper kiss" quote makes me nearly keel over due to lack of breathing (but a very GOOD lack of breathing, mind you). Their "third button" conversation is so whimsical. I could go on and on. The dialogue is one thing I would, in fact, call PERFECT about this book. :)
R: don't forget the "whores and horses" convo! I love how Alex was testing Genevieve's boundaries and she surprised him with her backbone. Again I reference the quiet people are NOT shy people quote.
S: LOL!!! YES. I can't believe I didn't mention that one! That's actually one of my top favorites, because it's when they both become aware that there's something more going on underneath the surface.

The dialogue

R: YES. Speaking of the dialogue, I felt like everything in this book was deliberate. There were no fillers or things in there that don't make sense.
S: YES. That's why there wasn't a moment of boredom in the entire thing. Every single thing was necessary for one reason or another.

The age difference

S: Also, I know we already discussed this via text, but one of my favorite things about this book is how the age difference is treated. I love how it is actually acknowledged as a factor, rather than ignored. It is mentioned in the context of life experience and whatnot, where it really does play a part. But it is also clear that it's just a number and no hindrance to their love. ♥
R: The age difference was just another thing to make me love the book more. There is an almost 20 year difference between them but that didn't matter a single bit. Another deliberate thing, I believe. JAL probably wanted to show that despite the age difference, Alex and Genevieve were on the same PAGE.
S: Oh, yes! I concur. And that's one of the best things about it. They were very similar in ways and GOT each other so very well. It didn't matter a whit that he was nearly twice her age. They were very compatible as people; age was irrelevant.
R: Alex + Genevieve clicked. That's why they didn't have only a good relationship, but a good FRIENDSHIP.
S: YES. Which is really the basis of actually having a good relationship. I'm sorry, but if it is impossible for you to be friends without sex, you're not going to have a healthy, lasting relationship.
R: amen amen amen amen amen amen amen. [IS THAT STATEMENT NOT GOLD?!??!]

The series

R: I like how this is a long series because JAL is an awesome writer and Eversea's/Redmond's are truly fun families to follow. but best of all, WIDFAD is the 5th book in the series and the 1st one I read but I didn't feel lost at all!
S: Same here! It read perfectly as a standalone. Yet at the same time, there are just enough references to the other family members and former stories that you are intrigued enough to want to read the whole series. And if you are me, you proceed to pick up #1 and go from there. :)

OUTTAKES

S: I also find it amusing that we are discussing this on a day I am sleep deprived after staying up until ALMOST 3 AM due to the next book in the series after WIDFAD.
--
S: While we're discussing quotes, this is one of my favorites: "She was grateful for the invention of words like “interesting.” It neutrally described such a diverse range of feelings and emotions. The human race was occasionally clever that way." It's just SO true, haha.
R: and omg YESESSYESYESSSS. I highlighted that (and it was ALREADY highlighted ;D) because it's SO. FREAKING. TRUE
S: Wow, the DOUBLE highlight. That is impressive. :D
--
S: I JUST READ IT. AND YOU ARE MAKING ME WANT TO REREAD. AGAIN.
R: REREADING IS ALWAYS THE ANSWER. DARN THIS REVIEW BECAUSE CAN I REREAD?!
S: I don't think we'll have to by the time this conversation is over. We will have recreated the whole book. :P
R: LOL, can the review be, "Just read the damn book."

We hope you enjoyed the review! Have you read What I Did for a Duke? If so, what did you think of it? Do you have anything to discuss that we didn't hit? (Because we can totally talk about it more. No worries on that front.) Also, just read the book if you like historical romance. Just read it.

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