A Lady for a Duke by Alexis Hall
Knowing my preorder would hit on Tuesday, I was going to read Husband Material this past week, but I ended up wanting something to read on Monday and happened to pick A Lady for a Duke by the same author off the top of my TBR…and of course, couldn’t put it down! So here we are, and to avoid featuring the same author two weeks in a row, I’ll figure something else out for next week and move onto Husband Material the following week.
Basically, this story is about the relationship between Miss Viola Carroll, a trans woman, and her former best friend, Justin De Vere, the Duke of Gracewood. But there is very much an ensemble of fabulous characters, some of whom are being heavily featured in the snippets, below. They include, Louisa (Lady Marleigh), to whom Viola is a companion. Badger (Bartholomew) is Louisa’s husband, Viscount Marleigh, and he is also Viola’s younger brother. Viola had previously been the Viscount Marleigh before being injured and MIA and assumed dead during the war, then taking the opportunity that afforded her to become the person she truly was inside. Another important character who features in the story is Miranda, the Duke’s younger sister.
Told in varying 3rd-person POV.
As with the reason for choosing most of these snippets, this set that are all from the same scene made me laugh, plus the last is such a fun description. Viola’s POV:
“I think”—Viola lifted her head from where it lolled heavily against the squabs—“this was a terrible decision.” Lady Marleigh opened her eyes. “On the contrary, you’ve chosen to do as I suggested, which is always the best decision possible.”
~ ~ ~
The only thing worse, Viola realised, than being trapped in a small moving box was being trapped in a small moving box full of Lady Marleigh’s opinions.
~ ~ ~
Lady Marleigh had that look she got when she had to deal with somebody having a lot of emotions at her. A sort of sincere expression of helpful bafflement, as one might wear if a Frenchman started asking one a series of complicated questions very fast in his native language. “I suppose you’re right,” she said, ever reluctant to admit another person could be.
Because it’s such a lovely way to describe a place. Viola’s POV:
Once, this place had housed an army. A quiet, vanishing army who served and waited and obeyed with the unnerving efficiency of automata. In a strange way, the stillness was worse. It reminded Viola of the shells she sometimes used to find on the beach below the castle, when you turned them over with your foot and discovered only a smooth hollow where once there had been something.
This one is just hilarious, and since it’s a rather long exchange for a snippet, I’m going to have to let this be the last. This is an exchange between the Duke (he was injured in the war and has some chronic pain) and Viola. Viola’s POV:
Rushing back to the stairwell, she leaned into the gloom, and called after him. “You claimed that you would be swearing.”
“Clearly,” he returned, “I am not so lost to decency that I would swear within your earshot.”
His voice already sounded strained. Pain-roughened. And, as she had last night, she knew she would do anything to ease it. “You need not hold back on my account.”
Silence curled up from the staircase.
She shouldn’t. She couldn’t. She had to. “I’ll go first. Culus.”
There was a pause. Maybe he hadn’t heard. Maybe he was shocked. Maybe he thought she was unhinged. And then his voice floated back to her. “Verpa.”
“Cunuus,” she offered.
Another pause. And, finally, more hesitantly. “Testes?”
“Testes? Really? You chose testes?” Even though he couldn’t see her, she curled her lip in playful scorn. “You promised I would be appalled.”
“I sincerely apologise”—the echo caught his breathlessness and magnified it, but she could tell he was amused—“for having disappointed you with my inadequate obscenities.”
“I suppose I shall have to forgive you yet again.”
“Indeed. I am the worst of hosts. Can’t shoot my guests. Can’t swear at them properly.”
Blurb / Links
When Viola Carroll was presumed dead at Waterloo she took the opportunity to live, at last, as herself. But freedom does not come without a price, and Viola paid for hers with the loss of her wealth, her title, and her closest companion, Justin de Vere, the Duke of Gracewood.
Only when their families reconnect, years after the war, does Viola learn how deep that loss truly was. Shattered without her, Gracewood has retreated so far into grief that Viola barely recognises her old friend in the lonely, brooding man he has become.
As Viola strives to bring Gracewood back to himself, fresh desires give new names to old feelings. Feelings that would have been impossible once and may be impossible still, but which Viola cannot deny. Even if they cost her everything, all over again.