The English Duke by Karen Ranney

April 26, 2017
“This is like Déjà vu all over again.”

A few months ago I was musing over why Karen Ranney isn’t one of my auto-buys. I just might have stumbled across an answer to my pondering.

To say I was disappointed with Ranney’s latest book, The English Duke would be an understatement. Sure, sure, the story started out with a smart, savvy, strong heroine by the name of Martha. On top of that we have a stoic, manly, avoid-all-humans, scientist hero, Jordan Hamilton, the Duke of Roth. While the language in the story may have been a little stilted, I thought – “Oh it will get better.” Then, because my brain is sooooo agile, I started noticing something. Something familiar. Ummm.

A pet peeve moment. I do not like becoming distracted by a sense of familiar. I don’t like it when I feel I should know someone I’m introduced to or that nagging sense of being in a place you think you've been in before or that book you just know you’ve read before. Why does this bother me? Because I have to find out just why something seems the same and when I do alllll that searching I am not focused on the book I’m holding in my hands. Well, my little Petunia’s, I started to have that feeling with this book. And before anyone says anything, it was not because allllll romance books are the same – they are not. No this was something else, something in the plotline.  Something. Nagging. Ummm.

Our heroine has a terrible sister. A spoiled sister. A conniving sister. Our hero has a friend, a shady character. His friend is attracted to the horrible sister. They were in cahoots. They do hanky-panky – heavy on the hank. The secondary characters were so familiar. I knew I had read something similar before, but where? Was it possible that some other author was doing a little plagiarism? Then the light bulb went off. This secondary theme was almost an exact replica of the secondary theme from A Scandalous Scot written by – Karen Ranney. (And, by the way I know “exact replica” is redundant). Maybe if I had read the story in 2012 I might not have noticed the sameness, but I read A Scandalous Scot in January of this year. (I didn’t like the secondary characters then either). I was perplexed as to why these secondary stories were so similar. An author cannot plagiarize themselves can they? Nah – maybe – don’t know. But they can certainly reuse old ideas or become lazy. I was very disappointed when I found this recycled theme.

Not only was I treated to a reused secondary story, there was also a drugged hero having dream-sex with the heroine scene. Only it isn’t a dream. The evil conniving sister finds out her sister has had her first humpy-bumpy. She has a plan. I could see the writing on the wall, or at least the page. We were going to go down the sex mix-up-marriage-martyr road. The strong sister was going to be a martyr and the hero was going to be in angstville.  And, the evil sister was not going to get her just deserts.

I could go no further. I closed the book. What a disappointment. My illusions have been shattered.

Time/Place: 1871 England
Sensuality: Questionable 

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