Once Upon A Duke – Reclaiming Heirloom

This month I finished reading my first regency romance novel and getting into the Christmas spirit a little earlier as well.

I never knew there was a romance subgenre centred around dukes, it made me ask what is it that a duke has that makes them so charming to people? Who knows, but I guess we have bigger series like Bridgerton to thank for this.

The first volume of the 12 Dukes of Christmas takes place in a year-round snow-covered village called Cressmouth. The residents simply call it Christmas for its constant snowfall making the perfect Yuletide setting.

Benjamin, the Duke of Silkridge arrives at the village from London seeking to reclaim an heirloom from his recently deceased grandfather. A locket containing a picture of his mother and the only memento he has left of her. But he dreads the trip to Cressmouth due to the estranged relationship between him and his grandfather and the presence of an old flame: Noelle Pratchett who he won over but abandoned for his duty.

Because of his past, he has grown to be literally the Grinch and his task becomes more than just a get-in/get-out forcing him to accelerate his efforts to retrieve the locket, even if it means working directly with Noelle in building an aviary in his grandfather’s name.

It’s not a complex story so there isn’t much I have to say about it, but there was significant comedy to it, like when Benjamin sees Noelle at a party for the first time, she makes herself seen as a strong woman. She hides her broken heart behind her Christmas cheer which made me applaud. But I couldn’t help but laugh when they were caught under the mistletoe and a girl demanded they kiss. This is why I never go to any Christmas parties, I don’t want to be accidentally caught under a mistletoe and have to kiss someone I don’t like! It’s also why I’ve never approved of the mistletoe in the first place!

It also made me laugh at Benjamin’s repeated efforts to correct the townspeople at the village name, because like I said, he’s the Grinch!

But, one worthy thing of note is that the more time he spent with Noelle, the more his feelings for her began to resurface, except he’s unwilling to open his heart, insisting his duty comes first.

Noelle also feels the same way as the more time she spends with him, the more her feelings begin to resurface, but she also seems to have difficulty branching outside of her sheltered life. I liked how she told him in one chapter that she scoffed at the idea of living as a debutante and that they don’t really get to make their own choices from the cradle to the grave, subtly mentioning why she could never leave her village and her friends.

Things do eventually get steamy between them and for a regency romance novel, I expected this aside from beautiful dresses and elegant settings!

Overall it was a short but funny and heartwarming story, one down, eleven dukes to go!

Rating: 4 out of 5.



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