Print Length: 364 pages
Publisher: Forever (January 25, 2022)

From Goodreads.com:  Fiona McTavish is an engineer, a chemist, a rebel—and no one’s idea of a proper lady. She prefers breeches to ballrooms, but her new invention—matches—will surely turn as many heads. There’s just a little matter of her being arrested for a crime she didn’t commit. And the only person she can turn to for help is the man who broke her heart years ago.

Edward Stirling, Duke of Wildeforde, will do anything to restore his family’s name and put his father’s scandalous death behind them. But when Fiona needs his help getting released from prison, he can’t deny her—even though it means she must live with him as a condition of her freedom. With the desire between them rekindling as fast as the gossip about their arrangement is spreading among the ton, Edward will have to choose what matters most to him—his reputation or his heart.

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My Rating: 1 star out of 5

This novel was too just too much. There were so many storylines that the author tried to shove into one piece that instead of working together to become an in-depth novel that was hard to put down, it quickly became a tedious (and downright laughable in some cases) mess.

I wanted to like Fiona. I'm always a sucker for independent females who are intelligent and who push back against the constraints of the time period. However, rather than coming across as independent, Fiona just came across as .... incredibly stupid. For starters, she understands how the world works - in fact throughout most of the book she rants and raves about the unfairness of it all, and yet she still thinks these same men would do business with her? She goes so far to create an alternate personality, a male, so that she can move about freely and hopefully sell her matches, but doesn't bother to come up with a name that is drastically different from her own? Even facing the possibility of jail time, she still dons the costume and parades around London trying to sell her designs all while refusing to accept help from any of the people who were actually in a position to get her matches sold. What is the point of creating something that will "change the world" if you can't sell it? 

Going back to Finlay, her alter-ego. I still can't get over how anyone actually believed that she was a man considering Wilde's mother and his would-be fiance saw right through the disguise. Nor do I understand how she could possibly think that anyone would be willing to work with her, or back her, once the truth of her deception inevitably came out. 

Now Edward on the other hand is exactly the type of character that I loathe in these kinds of stories. The over-bearing, "I know better than you do what is best for you", hoity-toity, "family above all else" pretentious lords of the realm. Time and again he speaks, and acts, without giving a thought to how his words and actions may be received (or how they may hurt) the person he is directing his attentions towards. 

Topping it off you have the "villains". Edward's mother who will stop at nothing to see her son married to the woman of her choosing (and I do mean nothing, she was willing to announce an engagement at a ball to a woman Edward coulnd't stand). The would be fiance (I'm drawing a blank on her name) whose only characteristic seems to be cruel and who serves no other purpose than to be trotted out to occasionally threaten Fiona. And round it out, Fiona's father and his co-hort. The father having stolen Fiona's hard work to try and pass it off as his own, and who obviously doesn't care one iota for her wellbeing, and the co-hort being the sort of man who enjoys whipping the minor classes into a frenzy (the more violent the better). In fact, it is the latter two that nearly land Fiona at the end of a hangman's noose, and even knowing she's being investigated by the Home Office, she still takes matters into her own hands instead of sucking up her pride and asking Edward for his help. 

In fact, at least ninety percent of this book could have been resolved had Fiona not insisted on being so bloody pig-headed and just accepted help when it was freely given. I understand she had trust issues, but this was taking things way too far. Although the next book features Edward's sister Charlotte, who was charming and one of the two characters I actually liked (his brother William being the second), at this point I am unsure as to whether or not I will continue on with this series. 

DISCLAIMER: I received a complimentary copy of this novel from the publisher. This has not affected my review in any way. All thoughts and opinions expressed in this review are 100% my own.

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                                       How to Deceive a Duke  is available from Amazon.com