Review: Between the Duke and the Deep Blue Sea by Sophia Nash

Thursday, March 15

Title:  Between the Duke and the Deep Blue Sea*
Author: Sophia Nash
Series: Royal Entourage #1
Genre: Historical Romance
Publisher: Avon Romance
Format:  paperback & e-book
Date/Year: February 28, 2012
Reviewed by: Booklover1335

*This book was provided to me by Amazon Vine in exchange for and honest review

Summary from the publisher:

The morning after the most scandalous bachelor party of the century, the dukes of the royal entourage must face all of London’s fury . . . when not one of them can remember a thing.

Roxanne Vanderhaven always believed herself the perfect wife. But when her husband, the Earl of Paxton, leaves her clinging to the edge of a cliff, she’s forced to face the truth: she married a murderous blackguard. Her eventual rescuer, Alexander Barclay, Duke of Kress, is one of England’s most disreputable peers—a member of the notorious royal entourage, no less–and certainly the last man she can count on. Indeed, the Prince Regent himself exiled Barclay to Cornwall, and now, by decree, the dashing duke must seek a royal bride to regain favor and help quell the public’s fury against the excesses of the crown.

Roxanne desperately wants a new life—after she’s uncovered the cause of her husband’s despicable actions—and she finds herself drawn, most surprisingly, to her unlikely champion. The Duke of Kress may not be quite the scoundrel he appears…but if she gives him her heart, will Roxanne be making the same mistake twice?

My Musings:

Between the Duke and the Deep Blue Sea is the first book I’ve read by Sophia Nash and is it also the first book in her new historical romance Royal Entourage series.

The story begins with the heroine, Roxanne Vanderhaven, having fallen off of a cliff and hanging on for dear life, while her husband leaves to seek help....supposedly. But, as long minutes turn into torturous hours she realizes that her husband is not coming back for her; that he has left her to her fate....almost certain death. Just when she begins to contemplate her demise after some lighthearted reflections of her life, a stranger happens upon her dog, who much like Lassie, leads her hero to save her...just in the nick of time.

Her rescuer turns out to be the disgraced his Grace, the Duke of Kress, who has been banished from London by the Prince until he can redeem his reputation by marrying a young, respectable heiress.

I found Between the Duke and the Deep Blue Sea to be a bit at odds with itself, almost as if the story has a split personality. On the one hand it wants to be this fun light hearted witty romance where the hero and the heroine trade amusing barbs, dialogue, and banter, and eventually fall in love and have a happily ever after despite the seeming insurmountable circumstances. On the other hand you have a heroine who has been emotionally controlled, dominated, and ignored by her aristocratic husband who holds her fortune in higher esteem than her person. As is illustrated when he leaves her to her fate on the cliffside. As well as the addition of other potentially emotional and serious issues, that in normal circumstances would lead to character growth and a deeper connection between the reader that the story.

Roxanne’s husband, the Earl of Paxton, is cruel in a passive aggressive sort of way. After eight years of marriage, where she is isolated from her past and everyone that she loves and has become a person she no longer recognizes, where she feels that she has lost herself in her desperate attempts to please him and become a Countess worthy of her station and rise above her common “tin” birth. Because of this realization in the face of death, you would expect her character to have a re-birth or awakening...a new beginning, to celebrate her second chance at life, but surprisingly all she seems to do is play dress up, and hide and seek from her past life in order to plan a new one in Scotland. It’s as if she finds herself at a country party by a happy accident and just goes on with her life. I found this to be unbelievable and a little disturbing...that even if she didn’t love her husband (though it is intimated that she at one point did have feelings for him) that she would have stronger emotions surrounding his actions and her circumstances. Her. Husband. Tried. To. Kill. Her. for goodness sake! And all she could do while hanging on the cliffside, as gets closer and closer to death is kind of laugh it off ?

I don’t want to sound pessimistic and rain on the sunny day of this book, because there were parts of the story that I thought were unabashedly enjoyable. For instance, I loved the scenes where the Duke torments the Earl with practical jokes to exact a bit of revenge on him for trying to kill his wife. And the Duke’s Aunt is no holds barred fun. But with the story set up the way that it attempted murder, an ex-French spy for Napolean turned English Duke, animosity between commoners and the nobility, and an actual murder, it can’t be all fun and games. But the heroine Roxanne, seems to just shrug it off and shows more emotion at the thought of trying to begin a new life with very little money and leaving her dog behind, than leaving the man she’s “falling in love”. Really? How are we supposed to believe in a love like that? These are some serious issues that the author introduced to the plot that deserve some emotion to make the characters, and the plot as a whole, feel like more than just a bit of frippery.

I read somewhere (I think it might have been the publisher's website) that they compared this book with the movie "The Hangover", but set in England’s Regency period. I think this explains a lot of why couldn’t like this book like many others have, because that is just not my sense of humor. And while the hero and the heroine do fall in love and get their happily ever after, the story was an emotional void. I found the marriage of these two improbable types of stories, a flippant diversion, as well as a story with unexplored deeper issues, to be a complete and utter mismatch. Between the Duke and the Deep Blue Sea is the case where opposites may attract, but they clearly don’t belong together. And while the premise of the Royal Entourage is intriguing, I don’t think I will be tempted to party with the Dukes again.


Overall:  3.00 stars (Clearly you either love this book, or you don't...I was kind of in the middle.  Liking parts of the book separately for different reasons, but as a had more problems than good points.)

Sensuality level:  3.25

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erin March 15, 2012 at 10:41 AM  

Thanks for the review. I guess I was looking at this book b/c it sounds like a more humorous scenario and a bit different from the herd. I haven't read any of Ms. Nash's books before and this premise sounded fun. Still on the fence...

Booklover1335 March 15, 2012 at 12:52 PM  

Hey Erin,

If you are on the fence, and you think it sounds like a fun book then I think you should give it a try because there are more people that loved it, than didn't from what I can see based on other reviews.

Maybe it's just not my thing, but I agree with you it sounded like a fun premise and I liked the beginning, and the end was in the middle were fun, just overall, it didn't work for me.

I would love to know what you think of it if decide to read it.

erin March 16, 2012 at 12:30 PM  

LOL... I just realized... I won this book from you! So I will definitely be telling you what I think! *rubshandswithglee* Can't wait :)

Booklover1335 March 16, 2012 at 1:54 PM  

Good deal! I will try and get them in the mail to you this weekend so they should be on their way to you soon :)

erin March 17, 2012 at 2:10 AM  

No worries or hurries :) I really appreciate the giveaway so whatever is convenient for you. I did a happy dance when I saw the post and my boyfriend groaned cuz it's more books. He knew coming into this relationships I came with a mountain of books and he made the mistake of making me bookshelves... it's a fair trade I think :)

Bookworm1858 March 19, 2012 at 10:09 PM  

I love your statement that the story has a split personality-I totally agree. I enjoyed some elements while being bothered by others. Happily the humor worked for me so overall I liked the book and want to read the next one.

Booklover1335 March 19, 2012 at 10:14 PM  

Hi Bookworm,

I enjoyed the humor as well. I especially enjoyed when Kress was playing those practical jokes on Roxanne's husband to kind of get back at him for leaving his wife to die.

But yeah, combining what would have been great stories...separately just didn't work for me, and sadly the humor didn't overcome what I felt were shortcomings.

However, despite how I felt about this book, I can understand your attraction to the series. I loved the premise and even enjoyed the other characters...I guess I will have to wait and see about reading another one.

Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts!

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