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New Release Review! DUKE, ACTUALLY by Jenny Holiday

Duke, Actually cover

There’s a royal wedding on, and things are about to get interesting.

Meet the man of honor

Maximillian von Hansburg, Baron of Laudon and heir to the Duke of Aquilla, is not having a merry Christmas. He’s been dumped by a princess, he’s unemployed, and his domineering father has sent him to New York to meet a prospective bride he has no interest in. In the city, he meets Dani Martinez, a smart (and gorgeous) professor he’s determined to befriend before their best friends marry in the Eldovian wedding of the century.

Meet the best woman

Newly single, no-nonsense New Yorker Dani is done with love—she even has a list entitled “Things I Will Never Again Do for a Man”—which is why she hits it off with notorious rake Max. He’s the perfect partner for snow angels in Central Park and deep conversations about the futility of love.

It’s all fun and games until their friendship deepens into attraction and, oops…

Falling in love was never part of the plan.

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Max and Dani’s (sort of, they’re not *really* enemies) enemies-to-lovers-to-friends-to-lovers story is absolutely glorious, and goodness, it had the BEST grand gesture based on a Christmas movie EVER. (I’m not going to tell you which one, but if you’re looking at the cover of the book and don’t get a clue, then I can’t help you ;)) This romance is a fairly slow burn one–quite a bit of time passes between the start of the book and when the two actually begin a friends-with-benefits-but-we’re-not-going-to-call-it-that relationship–but the book doesn’t drag at all, there’s plenty going on on the page but since there’s long stretches of time where the two aren’t in the same country, let alone together, Ms Holiday lets a bit of time pass between chapters when needed. In between Dani and Max are keeping their friendship going via text and phone calls, we don’t see every single one but we can see how they’re growing closer as time goes by.

I’ve seen this book (and its predecessor, A Princess For Christmas billed as “Hallmark movies with steam” and to an extent that’s fairly correct–this one definitely has that vibe (I *might* have snort-laughed when Max said something about if he was in a Hallmark holiday movie he’d be a baron from a made-up country…because dude, you are–the latter part, anyway) but ultimately this book has so much more depth to it than that. Dani and Max have real issues and problems to work through during the course of the novel–Max’s especially seemed destined to keep them apart for so much of the book–and for the most part they do work very hard to get themselves in the places they want to be by the end. There is one part that kind of feels a little easy way out, but overall I was willing to go with it (I just hope that Max’s brother Seb isn’t messed up for life over it, because that would be massively unfair).

Overall this is a delightful book with delightful characters that left me with all kinds of feel-good feelings that isn’t too Christmas-sy for November, even for someone who is more than happy to subscribe to Dani’s “the Christmas season doesn’t start until December 11” way of thinking.

(IDK how I missed A Princess for Christmas , but you’d better believe the audiobook is queued up on my Libby app ready for when I finish my current audiobook 😉 In the meantime, this one worked just fine as a standalone–yes, it’s clear that you missed the Leo/Marie romance and Max and Dani’s early days, but trust me, there’s plenty of Max/Dani goodness here to make up for it. Not to mention going back and seeing how it all began will be all the sweeter now that I know how they end up… <3)

Rating: 4 1/2 stars / A

I voluntarily reviewed an Advance Reader Copy of this book.

Published in4.5 starsABook reviewsBOOKS!new releasespotlight

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