Bringing Down The Duke // Powerful Feminist Read With A Swoony Romance

09 September 2019

Published: 3rd September 2019
Source: Netgalley
Genre: Historical Romance
My Rating:
A stunning debut for author Evie Dunmore and her Oxford Rebels, in which a fiercely independent vicar's daughter takes on a powerful duke in a love story that threatens to upend the British social order.

England, 1879. Annabelle Archer, the brilliant but destitute daughter of a country vicar, has earned herself a place among the first cohort of female students at the renowned University of Oxford. In return for her scholarship, she must support the rising women's suffrage movement. Her charge: recruit men of influence to champion their cause. Her target: Sebastian Devereux, the cold and calculating Duke of Montgomery who steers Britain's politics at the Queen's command. Her challenge: not to give in to the powerful attraction she can't deny for the man who opposes everything she stands for.

Sebastian is appalled to find a suffragist squad has infiltrated his ducal home, but the real threat is his impossible feelings for green-eyed beauty Annabelle. He is looking for a wife of equal standing to secure the legacy he has worked so hard to rebuild, not an outspoken commoner who could never be his duchess. But he wouldn't be the greatest strategist of the Kingdom if he couldn't claim this alluring bluestocking without the promise of a ring...or could he?

Locked in a battle with rising passion and a will matching her own, Annabelle will learn just what it takes to topple a duke....
This book wasn’t even close to being on my radar because I got all judgey of the illustrated cover (look, all those folks being drawn in my illustrated covers thinking they’re chick list are like I am except the chance it might be chick lit puts me off some, even though I’ve liked plenty of chick lit in the past). Luckily for me, I saw romance readers I trust talking about this book and I slowly became interested and I am so glad they started talking about this because otherwise, I might have missed out!

Historical romance has slowly become a go-to genre for me. The books may be a little OTT with the drama, but the romance is always swoony and there is something about time periods when male/female relationships were so much stricter which just charms me. And this book was no different and I can't wait to read more from Evie Dunmore if this book is anything to go by she is going to reward us with many a wonderful romance.

Annabelle Archer is attending Oxford University, one of the first women to do so, and she is sponsored in her studies by suffragette’s and must attend meetings to help further women’s cause in gaining the vote. She was the ideal well-educated and passionate woman to help support votes for women. She had spent her time being relegated to cleaning the home and caring for her cousin’s family even though she was far brighter than the role of maid and he didn’t deserve her in his life but she could not leave because she was dependent on the care of her family to not fall any lower in the world. I was there cheering Annabelle on throughout this whole book because she deserved so much better yet men in the world continually gave her nothing and thought they had the right to make decisions for her.

If you’re on the lookout for a powerful feminist read then this is definitely the book for you. Seeing these intelligent women at Oxford campaigning hard for progress made me want to glare at men who made sexist comments and put them in their place. And could it be more anymore relevant when there are politicians passing legislation on women’s bodies thinking they have the right to tell women what they can and can’t do with their own body when they are the reason women fall pregnant in the first place yet they think they can dictate if women can make that difficult decision to have an abortion or not. And it’s not just in America, look at Ireland’s abortion laws. This book hit so close to home in terms of men legislating on women’s rights without ever taking the time to speak to women! I definitely loved this book for being so relevant and so smart about things.

Anyway, the heart and soul of this book is Annabelle and I don't know how you couldn't like her, poor decisions and all. After trying to speak to Sebastian, Duke of Montgomery, about the suffragette movement she gets tasked with trying to learn more about him and ends up at his ducal home right before Christmas. And the rest? Well, it’s pretty awesome. I thought Sebastian was pretty stuffy and boring, much like Annabella did actually. I was swayed by his charms and the fact he rode out in a snowstorm to bring her back to his home rather than let her freeze to death. Admittedly, it was his fault she was out there jumping to conclusions and acting high handed and judgey like some men in her past had, but it was still a little charming. This was especially true when he helped care for her when she was sick (although he did at a distance… societal rules and all that). That man had layers! And under the rigid fa├žade was a soft heart and a passionate man who had taken on a lot of responsibility at a young age and was doing what he viewed as right, not what he needed to do for himself.

Sebastian and Annabella had heaps of chemistry, they were so well matched. They were both very smart and even though they shouldn't have been well suited, they were perfect for one another. They could easily debate politics and philosophy but they also spoke to each other as equals. I was there cheering on their romance, even though they weren't even close to being on the same level when it came to societies expectations and me totally why each of them made some of the choices they did, even when I didn't agree with them.

I cannot recommend this book enough to romance readers... or just readers in general. It was honestly brilliant, which was good because I was wary of the cartoony cover that has become the trend with romances, but this one was a solid read. It did make me enraged at the idiocy of men, and also made me want to march on parliament because the idiocy seen of these men in parliament in this book is the same thing I see of the MPs of today, but that's a whole other debate.

Have you read a book you judged too harshly by the cover and were pleasantly surprised by? And please tell me you’ve either read this or I’ve convinced you to give it a try.
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