Review: “My Darling Duke” by Stacy Reid

The first time I read this book, I was still riding the high from my yearly rewatch of one of my favourite Korean dramas, Kang Chi, and ever since then, I’ve always associated this book with the OST of that drama.

This might sound a little odd, but this is how my brain works, and I’ve pretty much gotten used to the somewhat random associations – it definitely ups the reading experience.

Anyway, this is probably my third time reading this book, but this is one of the first times I have been able to properly review it, and I’m going to try my best to not drop spoilers while convincing you to read it.

I also want to just quickly add that I have read a lot of historical romance novels, and it’s very rare that I have this opinion, but I definitely feel like this would be perfect material for an adaptation, and I genuinely wish that this author gets that.

If you know me, then you know that I love a good Beauty and the Beast retelling, and this one is by far one of my favourites ever. The characters were amazing, their chemistry was on point, and I definitely feel that this author took a fairytale and totally rejuvenated it.

So, this book starts with Kitty, who is a wallflower through and through, but she needs to not be a wallflower because her family’s survival depends on her. After her father died, there wasn’t an heir in her immediate family, so the title passed to a relative who couldn’t care less about them, and they soon sunk into penury.

She has sisters who haven’t had their debuts, and she wants to make it happen, but she knows that she needs to secure a good match in order to help them because they don’t have a huge dowry, and that is a prerequisite for any kind of marital relationship among the Ton.

Anyway, Kitty then decides, together with her friends who are also wallflowers, to do something terribly wicked, and her wicked deed is to masquerade as the fiancée of a duke who hasn’t appeared in London for more than a decade. She picks this particular Duke because he was known as “mad, bad, and dangerous” back in the day, but after withdrawing from societal activities, he totally disappeared and nobody could find him.

Also See: 21 Romantic Marriage In Crisis Historical Books That Will Steal Your Heart

And she does this with lots of success because, soon enough, they have been invited to balls all around town, and her sisters also start finding adequate matches. But news gets to our Duke, who is safely ensconced in the Scottish heartland, and his interest is piqued.

It turns out that Alexander, who is our Duke, is scarred due to a fire that raged through his house 15 years ago. In that accident, he lost his parents but was able to save his sister, which is when he suffered the brutish scars on his face. This accident also left him practically paralyzed for a good while, and his effort to re-enter society was ill-advised because he kept on being stared at, and since he disliked the attention, he decided to become a recluse.

Anyway, when he gets the missive informing him of his impending nuptials and his legal team, as well as his relatives, confirm that there is actually a person who has been moving through the ton and claiming to be his fiancée, he is so interested that he orders newspapers that contain anything about his supposed bride to be delivered to him. All this makes him so curious that he decides to go to London to meet her.

That is basically what sets things in motion for this story, and I won’t drop any spoilers, but you guys just know that when they eventually met, it was the stuff dreams are made of. I could practically hear the riff of Margaret by Lana Del Rey feat. Bleachers play in the scene where their eyes meet across the dance floor for the first time, and trust me when I say I haven’t seen anything as romantic in a long time.

Alexander and Kitty had the most wonderful chemistry, and I loved their relationship because it was one of equals, even though on the face of it, it looked like they were mismatched. Alexander was a very funny, very interesting, beautiful human being that I, for the first time ever, wanted to meet. He is quite literally the definition of a book boyfriend, and I feel that if you like your books to have a perfect male lead, you’ll love him.

The romantic and sexual tension between both of them felt most embarrassing to witness, and I loved their many conversations. One thing you should know is that Alexander and Kitty are a couple who talk a lot to each other, and since they both have a wonderful sense of humour, every conversation they had felt like watching an old couple talk and talk.

Another beautiful thing about this book was how the author managed to be funny while showing the heartbreaking loss our male lead had suffered, and I personally think that is the most beautiful thing ever.

Related: Top 18 Enemies To Lovers Historical Romance Books You’ll Want To Read

As I said earlier, this is a Beauty and the Beast retelling, but it’s retold in a clever and very switched-up way. So, there are still the meddling servants and a man who went through something that made him physically scarred, but unlike the original Beauty and the Beast story, our female lead isn’t exactly a diamond of the first water.

Then again, this is very debatable because, as I explained earlier, marital relationships were usually supported or came into existence based on a family’s dowry, so she is a person who hasn’t exactly had it tough, but she is very agreeable. Another marked difference between this and the original story is the inclusion of his sister and his cousin, who would then become something of a third potential love interest.

A close second in my list of all-time favorite Beauty and the Beast retellings has to be When Beauty Tamed the Beast by Eloisa James, which I genuinely felt was the most romantic thing ever. Alexander and Kitty’s relationship reminded me so much of Linnet and Piers’ insane chemistry and beautiful relationship, and I genuinely couldn’t pick one over the other.

I know I have focused on the romance and their romantic relationship for the most part of this review, but you guys just know that this book goes into the healing and growth of both characters. Whether it was their external injuries or their internal scars, by the end of the book, we see that they have both made a concerted effort to rise above their circumstances and sort of find a love with each other that inspires them to grow.

And then if you need even more reason to read this amazing title, it has disability representation, which isn’t something we see in a lot of historical romance novels. I belong to the school of thought that individuals living with disabilities should be stars and make bigger appearances in most genres, and I love that this particular book shows how realistic and painful and demoralising it can be living with a disability.

You guys, this is one of the most romantic historical romance novels I have ever read, and I always recommend it to anyone who asks for a book to read because it is timely while still being heartwarming, and I simply loved it.

Alexander’s proposal to Kitty had me sobbing, but not even as much as his conversation with his sister in the final chapters. I have read a lot (if it isn’t obvious by the fact that I have a blog where I talk on and on about books), but you guys, I was a sobbing mess by the time I finished reading this book because my heart was overflowing with happiness.

This book quite literally redefines pining, and there’s no way you won’t fall in love with both of them. I personally won’t pick to torture myself with a slow-burn romance, but this is literally slow-burn at its finest and most hot and immensely romantic and most steamy.

Finally, there are certain elements that I’d rather not see in a romance novel, and top of the list is usually the third-act breakup because it often feels unjustified, and I feel that the execution almost always feels hurried because, by the very nature of it, it’s going to be in the final chapters when there won’t be time to develop the story further from the conflict, so it ends up feeling unnatural.

But I actually love that even when Kitty and Alexander suffered their third-act breakup, coming back together didn’t feel unnatural. I reckon this might be the best execution of this trope I have ever seen, and I’m probably going to recommend it to clients from now on.

To round up this review because I can see that it’s getting a bit long, please know that my adoration stems from my actual genuine experience. I just checked the initial review I left on Goodreads when I read this book the first time, and now I see that I actually left that review in 2021. Since then, I have read this book no less than five times, and every single read leaves me gobsmacked.

Kitty and Alexander are a couple that I will always, always be thinking about, and I really need someone else to read this book and let me know if you have read this book and loved it or hated it, let me know in the comment section. 


Hi! I'm Preye ("pre" as in "prepare" and "ye" as in "Kanye"), and I am a lifelong book lover who enjoys talking about books and sharing bits and pieces of all the fascinating things I come across. I love books so much that I decided to become a developmental editor, and right now, I work with authors to help them tell their stories better. On this blog, I share everything from book recommendations to book reviews and writing tips, so feel free to stop by anytime you like!

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