Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Review: The Art of Duke Hunting by Sophia Nash

Roman Montagu, the seventeenth Duke of Norwich, is the last person anyone would expect to travel by boat. But there he is. On a boat. In the middle of a storm. And he doesn't know how he got there. All he knows is that he must get off. Now.

Esme March, Countess of Derby, is on her way to adventure. She was loving wife and tireless caregiver to her alcoholic husband and was loyal and obedient daughter to her parents -- now she wants to do something for herself and so she's off to the continent to pursue her love of painting.

But fate (and whatever star anointed her Patron Saint of All Drunkards*) puts her in Roman's path -- and, after sharing one extraordinary night with the most unattainable and untouchable of the Royal Entourage, Esme's future is changed forever.

Suddenly, a woman who was never been the center of attention or object of desire finds herself the focus of a scandalmonger's ambition -- and, to save her reputation, Esme finds herself doing something she has promised herself never to do again.

I love, love, love Esme March. She's an incredibly talented artist and all-around wonderful person and has no idea that she is. She is such a giving soul -- and one who is intuitive and thoughtful. But she also has a streak of independence -- and gives herself over completely to her art.

Roman is the last of his line who has yet to succumb to the Norwich Curse (or the Duck Curse, as most people call it). All his life he's followed a simple formula: never get too close to people. Many times in the novel, he stops and asks Esme if he's doing things properly or if he's offended her with what he has just said.

He's so earnest and sincere and really, really tries, desperately, not to hurt people -- so it is heartbreaking when his actions have the opposite outcome, especially with Esme.

There's a lot of apologizing that happens in the book -- I thought it was very endearing that our hero and heroine were really trying to figure out a way to make a life with each other. Like a dance, the first few tries resulted in bumps and crushed toes (in this case, hurt feelings) but, the longer they were doing it, the better at it they became -- and fewer apologies had to be made. ^_^

This is my favorite moment in the book is when Roman is out and finds Esme's art supplies -- he decides to pass the time by sketching --

...Lost in thought, he began to draw geometric diagrams so quickly that he soon had five pieces of paper before him, every inch covered with figure and arcs, and numeric equations. He reached for another piece of paper and realized he had used it all.

"Do you need more? I would be happy to fetch some for you."

He looked up only to see Esme resting against the side of the millhouse, nearly invisible in the deep shade of the tree nearby. He had been so lost in thought, and she so quiet, he had not seen her. "How long have you been sitting there?"

"Not long."

"And you said not a word."

"Why would I? You were obviously doing something very important to you."


For another two solid hours they worked together but apart. It was an amazing sensation. He had always worked alone. Every five to ten minutes, he would look up from his computations to see if she was still there.
- pp. 175-177

There is a quiet intimacy between March and Montagu -- and that they are comfortable calling each other such shows that their relationship is a partnership of equals. This was a heartwarming story about two very human, very flawed characters and how they make their relationship work. ^_^

This is the second book in Sophia Nash's The Royal Entourage Series. The next book, The Duke Diaries, will be released in Spring 2013.

To find out more about Sophia Nash and her books, visit her website. She's also on Facebook.

*p. 110


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