Two out of Five Stars
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.
I love Alexis Hall’s work. But this was a complete miss for me. I feel like I may be one of the few people who didn’t enjoy this. Which makes me wonder, what did I miss? I was excited to read a trans, historical romance.
Viola Caroll, presumed dead at Waterloo, took this as her opportunity to live as she truly is. She lost her status, her friends, and most importantly, the Duke of Gracewood.
The families reunite and Viola sees how her decision impacted her dearest friend. He’s lost himself in grief, pain, and suffers from PTSD. He lives in a fog of laudanum and alcohol. His sister, who needs to be presented to society, is suffering due to this. As Viola inches further into Gracewood’s life, chaperoning his sister, she becomes closer to the man who’s friendship she cherished in the war so much.
I had a few issues while reading this. The pacing was sluggish. It took me to about 50% in to actually get interested in what was happening. I was close to DNF’ing this one, but pushed myself to keep reading because of all the other reviews I’ve read. The chemistry between Viola and Gracewood was lacking. I didn’t feel any attraction between the two of them. They just existed.
I was more interested in the secondary storyline, involving Gracewood’s sister, rather than Viola and his story.
What I did like, was they romance was NOT fade to black. Which is what you get with so many novels featuring a trans character. It was handled delicately and read just like a romance in the regency era would read.
The portrayal of a character suffering from PTSD in this time period was what I personally feel to be as accurate. It was a misunderstood illness and Gracewood did what he could to deal with his time in war – drug and alcohol abuse.
Overall, it took me several months to read this book. I read twelve other books between starting A Lady for a Duke and finishing it. While this was a definite miss for me, you may enjoy it according to other readers.