Print Length: 328 pages
Publisher:  Forever (May 24, 2022)

From Goodreads.com: After a debut season plagued by scandal, Lady Emma Hardwick is ready to return to London, now with her young son in tow, and make a match. She's looking for someone respectable. Someone wholly unlike Malachi Harlow, the new Duke of Trenton and former ship captain, whose long hair and tattoos make him decidedly dangerous to her peace of mind.

Malachi would rather be at sea than in a London ballroom. But until he can sort out why the admiralty brought him home, he has to stay landbound. That becomes less of a hardship when he meets the beguiling Lady Emma, whose dimples and easy laughter capture his imagination. When they start receiving threatening notes, they realize that there's more to their connection than chemistry, and they'll have to work together to figure out why someone wants to ruin their lives.


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My Rating: 3 stars out of 5

I found two things about this novel to be interesting right off the bat. To begin with, we are told that Mal and Emma shared one wonderful night of passion together after having met at an assembly. But that is all that is done. We are TOLD. There is no prologue of them at the assembly flirting with one another, no seeing their one night on the page. It was a bold move on the author's part, however without getting that glimpse into that passion, I never really bought the supposed passion between them when they are reunited (literally one of the first things he says to her is that he wants her in his bed again). 

It was another bold move to have her be so open about her affair with Mal, to the point where neither her friends, her staff, or her own brother so much as bat an eye over it. I found that to be a bit unrealistic, but at the same time, it meant I didn't have to suffer through any disapproving lectures on the subject either. 

Now to be fair, there were moments when I simply adored Mal and Emma together. They had their moments of witty banter, and I feel like Emma grew a lot from the second book to this one. I also loved Mal's relationship with Emma's son and the way he was so protective of him and began to think of him as his own right off the bat. There were also some scenes where the author so perfectly described a scene, that it felt like you were right there with the characters. You could hear the ocean's waves as they slapped against the shore, or you could smell the apple pie Emma made. It was little things like that that really added depth to this story. 

However, in my honest opinion, there was just so much going on in the side-plots that it sometimes became confusing (not to mention tedious). First, we have Emma's friends being blackmailed, then we have Mal's mother putting herself in the crosshair of the British government by threatening to expose some of the secrets she had been privy to when Mal's father worked as a spy. We snip off one thread, and then suddenly there is a conflict between Mal and Emma, a conflict that could (and should) have been easily resolved, but instead was drawn out when she decided instead to flee back to her home on the coast. And let's not forget her odious ex-lover who always seems to show up just when and where he's not wanted. I feel like some of this could have been trimmed down (or cut out altogether) to make the story as a whole flow more smoothly. 

That being said, I do still believe this book will likely appeal to those who have enjoyed the prior novels in this series, and to those who don't mind a bit more modernization with their regency stories.

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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                                            Dukes Do It Better is available on Amazon.com