This book came to my attention for 2 reasons. Reason the first is that it is by Alexis Hall and I will probably read anything he writes at this point, and reason the second is that it has a trans woman main character. In a histrom! Squee!~
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.
This was a lovely book that I had a hard time putting down to do things like sleep. It follows the story of Viola Caroll, who was once best friends with the Duke of Gracewood in their youth. They even went to war together. When Viola was presumed dead in that war, she took the opportunity to finally live as herself. A few years later she is a paid lady’s companion for her sister in law. When her sister in law hears from the Duke’s sister that Gracewood is retreating into laudanum and alcohol more and more, she brings her family around for a visit, and when Viola and the Duke reconnect… well. Shenanigans and sparks fly, shall we say.
As I said, this one was hard to put down. It was an easy read, in that the prose just flowed off the page and I could sit down with a nice cup of tea and put some music on and read it for hours. I really liked Viola as a character, and Gracewood was also easy to cheer for, so the romance between them was something that I was rooting for the whole time.
My only complaint is that it is just a little too long. It never got boring exactly, but I did have this feeling like it dragged on a little past where it could have. Not a dealbreaker by any means, just something I noticed. I’m planning on giving this one to my wife and making her read it because I’d love to see a trans woman’s point of view on it. I thought it was rather adorable. I do hope she agrees.
All told, I’d recommend this one to fans of histrom, especially queer histrom. I had 4/5 stars of fun with A Lady for a Duke. I can’t wait to see what Alexis Hall has for us next!