Review: The Duke Who Knew Too Much by Grace Callaway

The Duke Who Knew Too Much is the first in the Heart of Enquiry series and it picks up where Her Protector’s Pleasure – which is the third in the Mayhem In Mayfair – series left off. 

I have been in the biggest slump ever of my life for a few weeks, so I picked this up on a whim because I have read and loved this author’s previous works. Even though this is part of her backlist, it is still super amazing and I genuinely think everyone needs to give it a chance. 

One thing I should get out of the way immediately is that my primary issue with long-running series is that we get to meet everybody and we get to know all their love stories.

And I know that this may come across as me simply being nit-picky, but it definitely depends on how you would like to see it. For example, the female lead of this book was the young teenage sister of the male lead in Her Protector’s Pleasure, Ambrose. So, it was a little weird and it took a while for me to get used to it – For context, the events in this book take place seven years after Her Protector’s Pleasure.

Of course, this is entirely subjective, so it definitely depends on how you would react to this, but it isn’t technically a problem, even more so because we got to see a lot of characters we met in the previous books. I especially loved seeing the stickler Ambrose and his fiery wife Marianne, as well as the other siblings and several other characters who have their own books. 

And this might be very conceited of me, but I genuinely love it when a character references something that happened in a previous book, and then it sort of feels like insider information that only ardent readers of an author would know.

Now, to get into the review properly. So Alaric McLeod, Duke of Strathaven, our male lead, is handsome, devilish, and unbelievably rich. He’s sad, scar-ridden, and cold, and I genuinely just wanted to give him a big hug. When he meets our female lead, Emma, it is in the most compromising and old-fashioned way ever, and it was sort of funny.

One thing I’ll tell you right now is that Alaric is rather mean in the opening chapters, and this is something that is eventually explained later on, but it was a little annoying to see him being so abrasive with everybody.

Although, to be fair, Emma was a major inconvenience in his life at that point, so despite his intense attraction to her, he was very scalding and disapproving with his brash remarks. Our female lead is a do-gooder who hates to see injustice being perpetuated, and while this admirable trait is amazing for her line of work, it can cause inconvenience to the people around her.

If you have gotten to this point, then you’re probably a little put off by my deliberate vagueness, and that’s because I am doing all I can to avoid dropping any spoilers that would discourage you from reading this absolutely amazing book.

So, our female lead Emma puts him through it in the first chapters, and their relationship was incredibly intense because they were both fighting off this animalistic attraction to each other, even though she wasn’t always sure if she was attracted while still acknowledging that they might stand on different sides of justice. 

Calling it an enemies-to-lovers book, though, would be wrong because their mutual hatred of each other lasted for barely 20% of the book, and you’ll see that it was purely a misunderstanding and they di end up working together.

Their chemistry was electric from the very beginning, and if you have read my review of other books by this author, you probably see that I have said the same thing for all those other books, and that is because this author knows how to write steam.

So, as I said earlier, Alaric is very touchy due to everything he’s suffered in the past, but what you’ll learn in time is that he is a bag of contradictions. So on one hand, he is very comfortable doing the most vapid things, and on the other hand, he protects the virtue of people he couldn’t even care less about. He seldom says what he really means, and I like that this was very much indicative of his personality.

But one thing that kind of rubbed me the wrong way was the naivety of our female lead. Remember what I said earlier about long-running series employing a trope that is a double-edged sword? It definitely came to fruition in this particular aspect.

I simply couldn’t buy the concept of her innocence. In Her Protector’s Pleasure, we are informed that she was the head of the family and had taken care of her home for years, and we are reminded of that fact several times in this book since it is baked into her primary, but for somebody that is so wise and so capable and so responsible and a person that has been in the world for a long time, it simply didn’t make sense that she didn’t know certain things. I will leave it at that so that I don’t drop any spoilers, but please read the book and tell me how you feel about this particular aspect.

And I know that I say this time and time again whenever I’m privileged to read this author’s work, but I genuinely feel that every single book she writes deserves a TV adaptation. I read the front matter of the book, and she is an indie publisher, so the chances of it being adapted are rather low unless she gets a Passionflix deal, which might not be possible since Passionflix deals primarily with contemporary book adaptations, but I am still heavily manifesting it for this author.

Another thing I enjoyed and noted about this book was how the characters had very solid conflicts. Sometimes in romance, the external conflict is sacrificed in favor of pushing the plot forward and relying primarily on the internal conflict, but I love that we got both and that the execution was still flawless.

Another thing that probably also sounds vague is that I really enjoyed how realistic the book was from the very beginning with portraying our male and female leads’ problems and flaws in their personality in a way that only complimented each other all the more.

As usual, I did not read the summary of this book before diving in; that’s just how much I trust this author. But having read more than 10 of her books, I can confidently say that she has a template she employs with every single book. This is very much tied into what I said earlier about the balance of the internal and external conflicts, and that comes to play here as well because we get the thriller and then we also get the romance in a way that neither feels overshadowed.

Another thing I really, really loved about this book is that it doesn’t end with a wedding, and while our protagonists do get married, it doesn’t happen on-page, and the story continues after that. If this is a format you personally do not prefer, then I advise that you stay away from it because the main reveal comes after the wedding and if you leave it at that, the story might feel a little too surface-level. 

As I just said above, I really like Grace Callaway’s books; I feel like I’ve said this a couple of times at this point, but that is just the truth. I appreciate her storytelling and how the many characters are also diverse and interesting to read. What I appreciate about this one in particular is that I would never have seen the twist coming; it was the most traumatizing reveal I have ever suffered in my years of reading historical romance fiction.

To wrap up this review, I’ll tell you that I really enjoyed this book, and I think anyone who wants a sweet, steaming historical romance book that delivers both action and romance will definitely love it.

Preye http://therookiejurist.com

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!

More Amazing Posts