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A Most Unlikely Duke by Sophie Barnes
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Rafe Matthews is living in St Giles, working as a dock laborer and earning extra money in bare-knuckle boxing when he inherits the Dukedom of Huntley. His new neighbor is Lady Gabriella, an etymologist who is about to be engaged to a respected Earl. Of course, they are almost immediately attracted to each other and Gabriella offers to tutors the new lord and his sisters in manners.
This is a well-written, well-told Regency romance. It has a modern feel that might off-put any strict historical fans, but I thought it a fun read. There were a lot of familiar situations if you read Regency romances, but Ms. Barnes almost always came up with a new twist and surprised me. I look forward to Amelia's story, the next book in the series. ( )
  N.W.Moors | Jul 4, 2017 |
Sometimes the right book shows up at just the right time. I didn't even realize that I was in the mood for a historical romance until I started reading this book and I couldn't put it down. I have never read anything by Sophie Barnes before picking up this book but since this was the start of a new series, I decided to take a chance. I am so glad that I did because this story was a lot of fun.

The characters in this book were wonderful. Raphe was my favorite character in the book. I always seem to like characters that are a bit of an outsider which definitely describes Raphe. When he learns that he has been named a Duke, he is shocked since he has spent the past 15 years supporting his sisters as a dockworker and boxer. When he shows up to take on the role, he doesn't quite fit the mold.

Gabriella spends her days trying to make her parents happy. They are pushing her to marry someone that they think is respectable and are hoping for a match that will benefit the family. They don't bother to ask her what she wants in life. Gabriella loves studying insects and is herself often considered an outsider.

I really liked Raphe and Gabriella as a couple. They really seemed to understand each other and worked hard to help each other through several situations. There was a lot of respect shown between the pair and I really liked their chemistry. This wasn't a really steamy romance but I didn't miss the heat. It was fun to watch this pair fall in love and fight to be with each other.

I would highly recommend this book to others. There was always something exciting happening in the story plot-wise and all of the characters were very well done. I am very much looking forward to seeing some of the secondary characters again when the next book in the series is released.

I received an advance reader edition of this book from Avon Books via Edelweiss. ( )
  Carolesrandomlife | Jun 30, 2017 |
I really liked this story!

Though parts of it didn't feel totally accurate--smaller details, mostly; overall it was fairly plausible historical fiction--the story was entertaining and the characters extremely likable. And though I shuddered slightly when Gabriella was hanging out with spiders and beetles (spiders! and beetles!) it was really easy to adore her character anyway. And Raphe...ah, Raphe. You've got to love a guy who's been taking care of his younger sisters since the age of eight and somehow managed to educate all three of them himself. (One of the aforementioned details--where on earth would they get books as penniless, parentless kids living in St. Giles? But still, it's hard not to love characters who get excited by libraries and bookstores, so I'll go with it :))

Also very interesting to note that though there's chemistry galore here and all kinds of lusting after each other, actual sexytimes are sparse. I actually didn't miss it--it was nice to focus on the relationship for a change...plus, chemistry and lust and hot and heavy dreams filled in the gap nicely ;)

Raphe's younger sister Amelia is clearly being set up as the heroine of the next book, and I am so there, people! Can't wait!

Rating: 4 stars / B+

I voluntarily reviewed an Advance Reader Copy of this book. ( )
  beckymmoe | Jun 26, 2017 |
A Most Unlikely Duke by Sophie Barnes
is an interesting and stimulating Regency Romance. Book 1 in a new and what promises to be an incredible series, "Diamonds in the Rough". Fast paced, exciting with engaging characters and an intriguing plot. Our hero, Raphe, is certainly a diamond in the rough, but an exciting one, to be sure.

Raphe Matthews, a bare-knuckle boxer who, was born into the gentry, but due to a tragedy, he and his family are left impoverished and in debt. Raphe, at age of eight, started taking care of himself and his three siblings, working on the docks and prize fighting. Unfortunately, one sibling was lost to the streets St. Giles, which still eats at him. He has spent the last fifteen grueling years, attempting to make a living for himself and his two surviving younger sisters. When a stunning reversal of fortune hands Raphe the title of Duke of Huntley, he is determined to become a proper Duke and give his sisters a better life.

Lady Gabriella, Ralpe's new neighbor, has been brow beaten by her parents, since her sister's scandalous match, she knows the ton’s eyes are on her to find a proper match. However, she agrees to tutor the new duke, a brutish hunk of a Duke, at that, but it can only lead to her ruin, but she agrees anyway. Raphe, is an honorable man, who honors his commitments, even if it would bring scandal to them all.

Together, Raphe and Gabriella, fight their attraction to each other, as well as
the scandal that is brewing. This story is heartwarming, as well as, intriguing, entertaining and proves, you can overcome the circumstances you are born into, by no fault of your own.
I was drawn into this story from the first page until the last, and can not wait to see what the next book in what promises, to be a most incredible series, will be about.

Ms. Barnes, is an amazing and talented author, who draws the reader into her stories with her characterizations, her details to Regency history, and her dramatization of the situations her characters find themselves in. "A Most Unlikely Duke", is powerful, compelling and an excellent choice for any fan of historical fiction, romance, drama with stunning characters and a most unlikely plot. Masterfully written. A really great read, in my opinion!
I received a complimentary copy.

Rating: 4.5
Heat rating: Mild
Received by: AprilR ( )
  tarenn | Apr 8, 2017 |
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To the underdogs of the world

And to George Bernard Shaw for offering inspiration
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London, 1818

Thick clouds darkened to shades of gray as they rolled across the London sky.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0062566784, Mass Market Paperback)

He never thought he'd become a duke, or that the secrets of his past would cost him his greatest love...


Raphe Matthews hasn’t stepped foot in polite circles since a tragedy left his once-noble family impoverished and in debt. The bare-knuckle boxer has spent the last fifteen years eking out an existence for himself and his two sisters. But when a stunning reversal of fortune lands Raphe the title of Duke of Huntley, he’s determined to make a go of becoming a proper lord, but he’ll need a little help, and his captivating neighbor might be just the woman for the job…


After her sister’s scandalous match, Lady Gabriella knows the ton’s eyes are on her. Agreeing to tutor the brutish new duke can only lead to ruin. Although she tries to control her irresistible attraction to Raphe, every day she spends with him only deepens her realization that this may be the one man she cannot do without. And as scandal threatens to envelop them both, she must decide if she can risk everything for love with a most unlikely duke.

(retrieved from Amazon Sun, 05 Mar 2017 17:55:18 -0500)

"Raphe Matthews hasn't stepped foot in polite circles since a tragedy left his once-noble family impoverished and in debt. The bare-knuckle boxer has spent the last fifteen years eking out an existence for himself and his two sisters. But when a stunning reversal of fortune lands Raphe the title of Duke of Huntley, he's determined to make a go of becoming a proper lord, but he'll need a little help, and his captivating neighbor might be just the woman for the job."--Back cover.… (more)

» see all 2 descriptions

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