How (Not) to Marry a Duke
by Felicia Kingsley
“You have an incalculable number of flaws, you’re inadequate in almost every social situation, and you hardly ever engage your brain before speaking, but you’re smart, and it seems that your act of heroism saved the evening from disaster.”
How Not to Marry a Duke is a loose retelling of the Taming of the Shrew where makeup artist Jemma Pears must marry a person with a title to inherit her late grandmothers enormous fortune and Ashford, a Duke, must marry for money to save his title. Their arrangement takes them both on a journey that may drive them both mad and maybe that much closer to finding a happy beginning for them both.
I was very excited for this light read because I thought it might be reminiscent of another Taming of the Shrew retelling, 10 Things I Hate About You. However, there was so much about this book that I found intensely problematic. The book was definitely entertaining, which lent to me overall decision to give the book any positive points at all but the characters did not seem realistic and the writing was inconsistant throughout.
The characters of Jemma and Ashford start off hating each other which was one of my reasons for picking up.. who doesn’t love a good hate to love storyline? … but as they “grew closer together” I didn’t actually find many reasons they had to be together, their attraction and “love” seemed to come out of nowhere and completely ignore how awful they had been to one another the entire first half of the book. Ashford seemed to insult Jemma a great deal for being herself and after her transformation (another very quick and seemingly out of nowhere character change) he was all of a sudden ready to love her – not the greatest message to women.. “please change everything about yourself and then you will be attractive”. This thread from The Taming of the Shrew doesn’t transfer well to our society today.
Overall, the plot was alright, the story having enough amusing points and witty dialogue to keep me reading but the characters and overall writing needed improvement.