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“This is not a game to be won.”
“Well, it certainly seems like a tremendous defeat to let you go.”

‘Don’t let me go.’

What a wonderfully rich, swoony and interesting debut from Evie Dunmore. We’ve been on a bit of a historical renaissance lately and couldn’t wait to start Bringing Down the Duke. The era and the theme particularly sparked our interest, and the passion we experienced was palpable.

Set during the time of the National Society of Women Suffrage, the suffragette’s aspect was something that particularly garnered our interest and we take our hat off to Evie Dunmore because the research that went into this story was exhaustive! It seems scandalous to think of the sacrifice’s many women made for marriage at that time. The suffragette’s certainly fought a hard-won fight.

Annabelle Archer is twenty-five, beautiful, extremely intelligent and capable of great things, however, because of her station and gender, she must endure being a housekeeper for her horrid cousin. Annabelle is offered a scholarship to Oxford, something she desperately wants, however, the terms of the stipend state she must support the suffragette movement during her education.

This isn’t a hard ask for Annabelle and her friends Lucie, Hattie, and Catriona. These women are passionate about the cause and willing to fight for the right to be educated, enter parliament and for dissolution of the spousal property policy, in which they women must sign over their property to their husbands upon marriage.  These women certainly have a fight on their hands.

Annabelle soon crosses paths with the handsome, aloof, commanding, utterly belligerent Lord Montgomery (Sebastian) a wealthy Duke, who is considered to have one of the country’s sharpest strategist minds. So much so, his counsel is sought by the Queen herself. The Duke has the ability to make women fawn and men cower with one piercing look.

‘He does have a heart, you see, a retrained, honourable heart, but it bruises just like yours and mine, and I wage it is a hundred times more steadfast.’

Annabelle is taken with the thirty-five-year-old Duke, and she, in turn, ignites a passion and lust in him that puts him off kilter. Readers, just wait until you experience the passion and chemistry between Sebastian and Annabelle! It’s tangible and felt like a living breathing being of its own!

‘But the truth was, a shocking emotion had held him in its clutches that night – to be inside her, or die.’

Annabelle and Sabastian not only gel with their sharp minds, but they meet on an emotional and physical level. Is there a future for them when Sebastian cannot marry below his station, and despite her feelings for him, Annabelle knows their relationship cannot prosper…or can it?

‘Very few people would ever see him like this, Montgomery, the man, not the duke. How she wished he were only a man.’

Evie Dunmore captured the struggle and strength of the suffragettes perfectly, whilst pitting the battle between love and want versus propriety and rules beautifully. We thoroughly enjoyed this story, though we did at times it could be a little repetitive.

This can be read as a standalone, though we’re looking forward to catching up these extraordinary women as the series progresses.

Would you have me change my place in history to prove how much I want you?

Synopsis

A stunning debut for author Evie Dunmore and her Oxford Rebels in which a fiercely independent vicar’s daughter takes on a powerful duke in a love story that threatens to upend the British social order.

England, 1879. Annabelle Archer, the brilliant but destitute daughter of a country vicar, has earned herself a place among the first cohort of female students at the renowned University of Oxford. In return for her scholarship, she must support the rising women’s suffrage movement. Her charge: recruit men of influence to champion their cause. Her target: Sebastian Devereux, the cold and calculating Duke of Montgomery who steers Britain’s politics at the Queen’s command. Her challenge: not to give in to the powerful attraction she can’t deny for the man who opposes everything she stands for.

Sebastian is appalled to find a suffragist squad has infiltrated his ducal home, but the real threat is his impossible feelings for green-eyed beauty Annabelle. He is looking for a wife of equal standing to secure the legacy he has worked so hard to rebuild, not an outspoken commoner who could never be his duchess. But he wouldn’t be the greatest strategist of the Kingdom if he couldn’t claim this alluring bluestocking without the promise of a ring…or could he?

Locked in a battle with rising passion and a will matching her own, Annabelle will learn just what it takes to topple a duke….

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