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New Release Review! BIG DUKE ENERGY by Emma Hart

Big Duke Energy, an all-new hilarious, opposites attract romantic comedy  from New York Times best selling author Emma Hart is out now!

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she needs a muse. She's found him.
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She can’t fall for the duke.
Easier said than done.

When bestselling romance author Ellie Aarons finds herself with chronic writer’s block, she’s pretty sure all she needs is a change of scenery. A beautiful lakeside cottage with her cat seems like a good idea.

She’s wrong. She needs more than a change of scenery—she needs a muse.

Which is why it’s so irritating that she’s drawn to the enigmatic but grumpy Duke of Windermere who owns the estate she’s staying on.

They don’t get along—not in the slightest. They could not be more different, which is why it’s so irritating that Max seems to be the muse she’s been looking for. No matter how hard she tries, she can’t help but picture him as the hero in her next book.

Oh, well. There’s really not a lot she can do about it. The muse wants what the muse wants.

Except Sir Winston Purrchill keeps exploring the goat barn, and Max’s delivery of him for the fiftieth time means he sees her manuscript open on her laptop.

He knows instantly that she’s writing about him. The story she’s written reflects their entire relationship until now, but that spicy scene?

That hasn’t happened. Yet.

Max is ready to compromise—he’ll give her the inspiration she needs for her novel, but she has to stop asking why he’s so against the relationship his grandmother desperately wants him to have.

With her deadline looming, Ellie has no other option but to agree.

She just hopes that she won’t do what her heroine is doing.

And fall in love with the duke.

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“Can… Can I have a go?” I asked softly.

Max looked over his shoulder at me, one eyebrow quirking. “You want to feed them?”

“I’ve never done it before. I only kept chickens as a kid, and the local farmer never let us feed his goats. They used to bite. Or so he said.”

His lips twitched into something that might’ve vaguely resembled a smile. “All right. Come here.”

I walked over to him.

“They can be quite aggressive,” he said. “Not in an attacking way, but they’re really quite fond of their food.”

I felt that on a deep level.

I, too, was fond of my food.

“Get a handful and hold your hand flat before you offer it to them,” Max said gently. “They’ll shove their heads through, but they’re just greedy.”

I swallowed and scooped up some food, then slowly moved my hand towards the goats. They all did as he’d said and shoved their needy heads through the bars, even tilting their heads to the side to get their horns through, and I inched my hand closer.

“Hold it flat,” Max reiterated.

I uncurled my fingers, pausing. “Like this?”

“No. You’re still bending your fingers.” He stepped towards me and took hold of my wrist. His left hand held it steadily, and a tingle danced up the inside of my forearm. His right hand controlled the gentle uncurl of my fingers until my hand was fully flat. “Like this,” he said softly, with his body right next to mine. “Or they might bite your fingers.”

“You might have told me that a moment ago,” I mumbled, holding my hand back from the goats.

He had full control over my hand; make no mistake about it. He was solely responsible for the unfurling of my fingers and the slow movement of it towards the goats.

And his body…

Well, he was right beside me. It was strong. Firm. The kind of body you could press your back against and feel safe with.


Not that I was noticing.

Max moved his left hand to cup my elbow and used his position next to me to turn me towards the goat. “I prefer to feed them this way,” he said in a low voice. “With my thumb facing away. Less things for them to munch on.”

“You’re not instilling confidence in me.” I swallowed. “They won’t bite me, will they?”



“You asked.”

“The correct answer was no.”

“Shh. You’ll scare them.” He moved my hand towards the goats. “Ready?”

“Absolutely fucking not,” I replied.

He laughed. “You asked for this.”

“I rescind my request.”

“Too late.”

Max pushed my hand towards a goat. I squealed, shutting my eyes. My entire body tightened with apprehension, and I even leaned back into him a little.

Was I leaning into him or away from the goat?

I’d never tell.

The goat licked my hand, snaffling up the feed pellets.

It… was like a very large cat.

I opened my eyes to see a pair of very large lips lapping at my palm.

It tickled.

“There’s no need to look so scared.” His words were almost a chuckle in my ear.

“You just said they’d bite my fingers off.”

“Only if you don’t keep your hand flat. They’re not the smartest.” He scooped a handful of feed back into my palm. “Keep your fingers flat. Like a board. And keep your eyes open, because if they’re going to nibble you, then you can see it.”

I made a little grunting noise to express my displeasure at the idea of having my fingertips nibbled on by a goat, but I slowly put my hand in front of them. Vincent van Goat lapped up all the pellets gently, and I pulled my lips up into a smile.

All right.

He wasn’t that bad.

“See? You were scared for nothing.” Max’s lips tugged up before he quickly schooled his expression back to one of no emotion. “And there’s something on the hay bales that you’ve been looking for.”

I jerked my head around to the bales. “Winston, you little bastard!”


Big Duke Energy has everything long-term readers of Emma Hart‘s have come to expect: a quirky heroine, somewhat OTT older characters (in this case, the dowager duchess and her book club), a host of ridiculous animals with punny names ( the heroine’s cat, the DD’s goats and ducks, not to mention an actual animal fashion show/parade). There are LOL moments and swoony moments and steamy bits. Ms Hart definitely has the rom com formula down.

And with her latest series, the Aristocrat Diaries, she seems to have remembered how to use conflict to properly torture her characters again, so that’s a huge plus 😉

In fact, in Big Duke Energy, her main character knows all about conflict and dark moments and resolution, since she’s a (bestselling, of course) romance author herself, which gives those moments of “this isn’t a romance novel, it’s my life” that she has an extra meta flair. (And don’t think I didn’t notice, Ellie, that you and Max miscommunicated your way all over the last third or so of this book, even though you claim to hate that plot device…)

For fans of the series, there are teensy glimpses of other series characters as well as major hints at what is to come (spoiler alert: more aristocrats!) For newbies, those other characters are for the most part way off on the edges of the story, and you can absolutely start here. Though I’d argue that perhaps things could have been wrapped up a bit more quickly than they were–another round of edits to tighten up the plot just a smidge wouldn’t have been out of line–it’s still a fun and quirky book for fans and newcomers alike.

Rating: 4 stars / B+

I voluntarily reviewed an Advance Reader Copy of this book.

Emma Hart author photo

About the author:

Emma Hart is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of over forty novels and has been translated into several different languages.

She is a mother, wife, lover of wine, Pink Goddess, and valiant rescuer of wild baby hedgehogs. She lives in North Wales with her family, three cats, one very large dog, and an undetermined number of chickens and ducks.

She’s known for her hilarious, sarcastic romantic comedies with wildly inappropriate grandparents, and has been dubbed “The RomCom Queen” by her readers.

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