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It's been a few days since I finished reading Jessie Clever's Inevitably a Duchess, and what lingers in my mind is the wonderful relationship between Richard and Jane -- they met when they were younger, and, while there was a spark between them, they ended up marrying different people. In her marriage, Jane suffered terrible abuse, and, while she survived that marriage, she came out of it changed. She's been widowed for a year, and has rekindled her friendship with Richard.
Richard knows of Jane's suffering, and hasn't really pressed her or rushed her. I love how patient and understanding he is and how very supportive he is of Jane -- he understood what Jane went through and allowed her to take the reins in their relationship.
He knew very well that it was not any woman who would not only love his sons as much as he did but who could also follow and add to a conversation that involved dead bodies and illegal monetary exchanges. As Richard had plainly seen in his marriage to Emily, some women had heart, and other women had intelligence. It was remarkable to find a woman who had both, and he had found it in Jane. But what that would mean was yet to be seen.
- loc 214
I would've enjoyed reading about Jane's interactions with Richard and his sons, but Jessie Clever decides to add the espionage element in her novella. Richard works with the War Office and is currently investigating the rash of graverobbing reported in London. It doesn't seem like such a big deal, but that is the beauty of this particular plan: it's such an insignificant thing that the plotters are hoping that they don't cause ripples with their actions, but Richard had noticed and is on their trail. One would think that there's such a great disparity between the two storylines, but the author does a good job of weaving both elements into each other. The spy story highlights the uniqueness of Richard and Jane's relationship. Jane knows about Richard's "other" job, and is, not only supportive, but also very eager to do some sleuthing on her own.
"Very good, Your Grace, but do not tarry. You know I like to observe the occupants of the other boxes before the opera begins."
"And I wouldn't want you to miss your opportunity to spy," he said over his shoulder with a wicked grin.
"Observation, Your Grace. It is merely observation."
He stopped on the second floor landing to turn to her, his eyes flashing smartly. She couldn't help but return his smile, his playful enthusiasm too much to conquer.
"Call it what you like, my lady, but it is still spying."
- loc 119
Whether it's luck or coincidence, Jane stumbles upon clues that might point to the mastermind (and the motive) of the villainous acts. This is the point that I question: is it really that easy to be a spy? I would imagine the amount of time and training it would take, but, in Jane's case, she walks in the War Office in the morning, and walks out a spy in the afternoon -- already on her first mission. (Read: Chapter 5)
While I question the method, I appreciate the purpose of this plot development. It is very gratifying to see Jane blossom and make sense of her new self and her new life. She's been in mourning for a year, and is still adjusting -- testing out new boundaries and limits. It's a great journey of self-knowledge, not just for Jane, but also of Richard -- who plans to have Jane as a permanent part of his own life. When I asked my sister to read through my review, she asked me if Richard and Jane's relationship (love life, sex life) was exciting -- this is not a story of grand passions, but one of very quiet intimacy. When Richard and Jane made love, the prelude is a simple "We shall sleep on it." (loc 499)
Inevitably a Duchess introduces Jessie Clever's The Spy series. Book 1, Son of a Duke, which features Nathan (Richard's son).
To find out more about Jessie Clever and her books, click below:
Disclosure: I received a review copy from the author. Thank you to Jessie Clever for the opportunity. Yes, this is an honest review.