Lady Vesper Lyndhurst and Aspen Drake, the Duke of Greydon, were neighbors and childhood friends. But when he publicly snubs her during her first season, Vesper swears off love and focuses on what she thinks she’s best at—matchmaking. Greydon left the ton soon after that and has stayed away ever since. But dire circumstances bring him back to the ton—and back into Vesper’s life.
I’m always saying that I’m not really a historical romance girlie, but then Amalie Howard comes along with her perfect blend of historical accuracy, modern vibes, and steamy romance that gets me every time. The main characters are hilarious, engaging, and oh-so-deliciously delusional about the feelings they have for each other. It lends itself to a lot of sassing of each other and back-and-forth banter that kept me laughing throughout.
While this story is, for the most part, lighthearted and fun, Howard does take the time to tackle some heavier topics (and provides content guidance at the start of the book). Howard approaches the topics of mental health and neurodiversity head on and with great care, allowing a more diverse pool of readers to see a part of themselves in a character.
The tension between Vesper and Aspen is immediately clear from the moment they are reunited for the first time. The banter between the pair is often hilarious, though they also know each other well enough to throw barbs that truly hurt. Through it all though, even when they fall more into the “enemies” territory of their relationship, there is an underlying current of respect and care for the other that makes it so satisfying when they finally figure out what we all already knew.
A bit of a darker plot line in the story that runs mostly parallel to the main romance plot line centers asylums and those who are committed to them. Through a bit of investigative work and some well-placed connections, Aspen confronts the “villain” of this plot line with Vesper’s help. While that does get resolved, it feels a bit dissatisfying for the reader as the punishment feels incredibly light compared to the atrocities committed by said villain (though this feels like it could be more a product of the time period than anything else).
One of my favorite things in this story is the sprinkling of sex positivity throughout. There is a scene in which a friend is mildly scandalized over Vesper’s…spicy moment with Aspen, but Vesper shuts it down pretty quickly and get her friend on board the sex positivity train.
NEVER MET A DUKE LIKE YOU by Amalie Howard is the second book in the Taming of the Dukes series following ALWAYS BE MY DUCHESS. It’s available now and you can grab a copy for yourself here. And though it could be read as a standalone, I highly recommend you also grabbing a copy of the first book here.
Disclaimer: I received an advanced copy of this book from the publisher for free and have voluntarily written this review. If you purchase a copy using my Bookshop affiliate link above, not only will I receive a small commission (which will fuel my coffee and tea addiction and help to keep me up all night reading more books to recommend to you), but you will be supporting indie bookstores as well! If you prefer Amazon, visit my Amazon storefront and click on the list titled "2024 Book Recommendations."