Say No to the Duke by Eloisa James

Say No to the Duke by Eloisa James
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers, Inc
Genre: Historical, Mystery/Suspense
Length: Full length (288 pages)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 4.5 stars
Reviewed by Xeranthemum

Could she possibly refuse a duke’s hand—in favor of a sardonic, sinful rake?

Lady Betsy Wilde’s first season was triumphant by any measure, and a duke has proposed—but before marriage, she longs for one last adventure.

No gentleman would agree to her scandalous plan—but Lord Jeremy Roden is no gentleman. He offers a wager. If she wins a billiards game, he’ll provide the breeches.

If he wins…she is his, for one wild night.

But what happens when Jeremy realizes that one night will never be enough? In the most important battle of his life, he’ll have to convince Betsy to say no to the duke.

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This can be a standalone read. Indeed, I’d forgotten a certain part so I was still enjoying it. However, when I got to the part where Jeremy figures things out, I was stunned. I believe my jaw dropped and my eyes popped because suddenly I DID remember what had happened previously and I couldn’t believe what I was reading. Seriously? All this time? And for the price that was paid – oh did I get steamed. It was totally a fist-bump moment when Betsy (a/k/a Boadicea) let her actions speak for her feelings. I would have done it twice for good measure. I wasn’t alone in feeling that way, Lady Knowe did too. I really liked Betsy’s aunt. Because of all that, I changed my mind a bit – reading the previous book in the series, which is another great read btw, can enhance a reader’s enjoyment with this one.

In the previous book, Jeremy was instrumental in helping the main characters through their plot twists and conundrums, but now the stakes are higher. His feelings of annoyance in the past blossoms into something wonderful – feelings that make him uncomfortable, like lust, and fascination and possessiveness (in a good way) and the poor guy doesn’t know what to do. Until he stops and pays attention to himself, to finally understand, to realize he is worthy of love and he wants it, with Betsy. To see a tortured hero finally see a light at the end of the tunnel is a glorious thing, but he’s not a pushover by any means. His strength is tested but he perseveres. He has an estranged father and their meeting was momentous and really important to what comes later in the novel. I rather liked Jeremy’s dad.

Lady Tallow is a secondary character that left a sour taste in my mouth, figuratively speaking. She was so nasty. I respected Thaddeus immensely because he had some very good qualities, but I wanted to hug him when he reacted to something Lady Tallow said. I hope someday he’ll get his own HEA – he’s a bit stuck-up but a good egg.

As far as internal conflicts, Betsy’s happiness is still being poisoned by something that was said when she was 14 years old. It’s amazing the lengths some will go to ensure they don’t get hurt ever again. The heroine had an epiphany and it was quite wonderful to read as it came about. Jeremy, like I said, is estranged from his dad, but there is the matter of his PTSD from the war. That is a huge hurtle to overcome, or at least deal with it in a healthy manner, and it does play a significant role in the plot thread.

There is a villain which was well written because I completely agreed that the person was a twisted, sorry soul. I had no sympathy whatsoever and was glad when Jeremy and Betsy figured things out. Not only that, but I was so happy when the family stood in support of Jeremy. Awesome scenes!

The scene with Thaddeus’s mom, the Duchess of Eversley, Lady Knowe, Betsy and Jeremy and a couple of others at the auction, was a hoot. There was a lot of grinning leading up to that part and certainly during it. I enjoyed Ms. James’ humor and I am of the impression that the author had just as much fun writing those scenes as much as I liked reading them.

The final chapter acts like a pre-epilogue to the epilogue. I did sniffle a bit but so did Betsy. The two combined made for a perfect, wonderful, special happy ever after and I sighed with satisfaction.

Say No to the Duke is a delight, full of charm, wit and passion. The romance is cheerfully rocky with a payoff that made me happy. This is an excellent addition to the series and Jeremy is going to fit right in with the Wilde family. I give this novel a solid recommendation to both historical romance readers and fans of the author because it’s splendid entertainment.


  1. Laura Battista says

    Like always Eloisa James books are witty and involving. Recommended

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