Review: The Courtesan Duchess by Joanna Shupe
I’d like to thank Tasty Book Tours for letting me participate in this tour event and the publisher for providing a copy of this book for an honest review. For all the blogs involved in this event, please click on the banner above, murr! =^.^=
This was a rather difficult book for me to rate. On the one paw, I enjoyed the story, writing, and concept. On the other paw, both main characters really got under my fur! I really wanted to swipe them both multiples times with my claws. So I waffled quite a bit on whether to give it three paws and a tail wave of support or four solid paws. In the end I decided to give it a full four paws because giving it a “half star” as you humans call it seemed a tad petty simply because I disliked the main characters continual behavior in the book.
I tend to enjoy historical romance books, so any time I find a new series to try, I’m always curious to see what happens and who all the players may be. And I will say that as the first of an all new series by a debut author, Shupe has started off rather well. The idea of a woman seducing her estranged husband by posing as a courtesan was intriguing and promised to be full of fun moments between the characters. Suffice it to say in this the book lived up to expectations. Toss in a bit of mystery and a few suspenseful moments and I found myself turning each page in anticipation of how everything would be resolved. Shupe’s writing is solid, the pacing strong though there were a few moments where I felt it dragged just a bit, and the overall feel of the story was great. And for the most part the majority of the characters were likable and of interest. I particularly liked Winchester, Sophie, Fitz, Aunt Theo, and Quint. In other words, all the secondary characters who very well may end up with their own stories.
Were the book fell short for me was the main characters. This was one of those rare moments where the main characters just did not appeal to me despite my trying to keep an open mind throughout the book. I started off liking Julia quite a bit and questioning my initial feelings for Nick. I wanted to like him but found that he was rubbing my fur wrong at the same time. As the story progressed, I began to dislike Julia a bit with each chapter and strongly leaning toward disgust where Nick was concerned. Julia started off with so much promise toward being a strong, independent, intelligent character who contrived a cunning plan to get control and stability back in her life. Yes, she lies and manipulates Nick to get what she wants, but sometimes desperate times call for desperate measures, and overall I quite liked the idea of a woman feeling like she didn’t need a man in her life to raise a child. However, I felt like she steadily became a weaker character as the story progressed because she bounces between not wanting Nick in her life and then wanting to stay with him far too much for my liking. Meanwhile, Nick was just a pompous ass and he has a long way to go to redeem himself, in my opinion, regardless of the childhood he had.
Now as I said before, the overall story is a great one and it really is a promising start to a new series. Just because I didn’t particularly care for Julia and Nick in the end doesn’t mean that you wouldn’t like them. In fact, you may absolutely love them and see qualities in them that I didn’t see in this read through. And I truly hope you do. They just didn’t work for me at the time when I was reading.
So where does this leave things? Well, this is a book that I would recommend to anyone who loves historical romance with just a touch of mystery/suspense and also to those who are looking to try something new. I also definitely intend to read the other two books in the series because I did greatly enjoy the other characters in the book and am anxious to see what happens to them. Given what I know about the pairings for each novel, I expect them both to be fun reads. I only hope that Shupe includes an update on Fitz and Aunt Theo in one or both of the following books.
About the Author:
Award-winning author JOANNA SHUPE has always loved history, ever since she saw her first Schoolhouse Rock cartoon. While in college, Joanna read every romance she could get her hands on and soon started crafting her own racy historical novels. She now lives in New Jersey with her two spirited daughters and dashing husband.
Three lucky winners will get a print copy of The Courtesan Duchess. To enter, simply click on the Rafflecopter link below: