Review: Damned If I Duke (Drop Dead Dukes #2) by Anna Bradley


Print Length: 368 pages
Publisher: Kensington Books, Zebra (March 26, 2024)

From A sensible duke wants a dutiful duchess. A rakish duke wants no bride at all. But a truly wise man knows the pleasure of finding a wife who’s his match in every way . . .

Bold and adventurous, Prudence Thorne is not the kind of woman to stand by meekly when someone she loves has been wronged. And she’s quite certain that Jasper Vincent, Duke of Montford, somehow duped her father into racking up enormous gambling debts. When fate offers her a chance to blackmail Jasper into forgiving her father’s losses, she seizes it . . . only to have her scheme backfire.

Jasper enjoys London’s illicit delights too much to wed. Too bad his grandfather has decided that a woman with the nerve to blackmail might be exactly the sort of wife to tame him. Pressed into a marriage neither wanted—and fighting a desire neither expected—Prue and Jasper torment and tempt each other beyond reason.

Surely a proper duchess should be subdued, obedient, and dignified? Yet just as he begins to get his wish, Jasper realizes how much he wants his unconventional wife—and only her—if it’s not too late to win her . . .


My Rating: 2.5 stars out of 5

There was one moment in this book that really stood out in terms of being both memorable and hilarious. It was when after one very unfortunate chain of events Prue accidentally shoots Jasper in the arse. Well technically, she grazes said arse, but Jasper's running commentary on it (both mentally and to his grandfather) was some of the funniest I have read in awhile. 

But sadly, even that couldn't keep this one afloat. Nor could the banter/sniping between Prue and Jasper as amusing as that could be at times. Don't get me wrong, I loved that she stood up to him (especially when he tried to dictate what she could and couldn't do), and I enjoyed the way he tried to make things right where the debt her father owed was concerned without making it look like charity. 

However, there was a lot of other stuff going on here that just felt.... odd. For instance, why did Prue feel like marrying would solve not only her problems (which it would), BUT also for her father's as well? It wouldn't have been her husband's responsibility to either pay her father's debt or allow him to move in with them. In fact, one of her suitors was adamantly against this and yet she still considered him a potential  candidate for marriage simply because she assumed she could "bring him around" in the future? 

Also,  why did her friends think that Jasper was a perfectly acceptable suitor knowing his reputation? Added to that, the minute she confessed certain things to her friend (and showed her friend certain things in her possession), why wasn't her friend's husband demanding that Jasper marry Prue since according to the time she could have been considered compromised? When you add to that the fact that Jasper had no desire to marry anyone, much less Prue, why did he suddenly agree just because his grandfather said he should? I would have expected more of a fight out of him as well, but no, the next thing you know he's telling Prue they should marry. And so they do. 

But of course, they do, and their marriage isn't without some trials. One being the way Jasper tried to flat out forbid Prue to do the things she enjoyed only the day after their wedding. Granted most of her hobbies (in this instance fencing in a gentleman's only club) were highly inappropriate for a woman to do, but he knew that these things were parts of her before he married her.  The second (and maybe bigger) trial caused by none other than that of Jasper's ex-mistress Selina. And while I get that she was convincing in her tales, Prue had been repeatedly warned about the ton (and Selina especially), so the fact that she just immediately accepted her words as the truth without even confronting Jasper about it was wild to me. 

And honestly, after the absolute havoc caused by Selina and her co-conspirators, there needed to be some sort of punishment for them. Granted, one of them got what they were coming to them, but in the grand scheme of things Selina caused the most damage, so the fact there was no "final showdown" with her and Prue (or even her and Jasper), was very disappointing. I would really have loved to see Prue come into her own and stand up to Selina. Because to be honest, after being told how much spirit and pluck Prue had throughout this entire novel, it was incredibly dissatisfying to say the least that she didn't stand up for herself when and where it mattered. 

All things considered, I have read this author in the past, and even though this one didn't gel for me as well as I would have liked, I will read more from this author in the future. 

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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