Review: The Making of a Duchess by Shana Galen

Sunday, July 4

Title:  The Making of a Duchess*
Author:  Shana Galen
Series: The Sons of the Revolution book #1
Genre:  Historical Romance
Publisher: Casablanca Sourcebooks
Format: mass market paperback
Date/Year: June 2010

*This book was provided to me by the publisher for review

Summary from the publisher:

A very dangerous attraction...

Julien Harcourt, duc de Valère, is more than willing to marry the lovely young lady his mother has chosen. Little does he know, she's been sent to prove him a spy and a traitor. 

And an even more dangerous secret...

Sarah Smith's mission is to find out whether the duc's trips to the Continent are as innocent as he claims, but the way he looks at her is far from innocent...

Their risky game of cat and mouse propels them from the ballrooms of London to the prisons of Paris, and into a fragile love that may not survive their deceptions...

My Musings

The Making of a Duchess begins with the perilous flight of a young Julien Harcourt and his mother in the dead of night as they run from the attack on their ancestral home during the “reign of terror” in France by villagers and their own servants.  The pages are filled with their terror and feelings of bewilderment and betrayal as they fight for their lives and try to escape the fury and the fire as everything they held dear burns around them.  They escape, barely, but not without the loss of beloved family members.  Eventually they make their way to the safety of England where they learn to go on with their lives.  Yet Julien never forgets his brothers that were left behind, ones that they feared had died that deadly night in France, whom he now secretly searches for in hopes that they too somehow escaped.

Sarah Smith is an orphan who has finally earned a position as a governess with a respectable and wealthy family…or so she thought until her employer blackmails her into pretending to be Serafina, a young woman whose family supposedly also barely escaped France with their lives and have been living in Italy these many years, so that she can spy on Julien Harcourt and provide evidence that he is a traitor to England.

I enjoyed The Making of a Duchess, especially the aspect that Julien and his mother were French émigrés.  So often stories set in the Regency period are from the English perspective and their fight against Napoleon.  Julien is your typical to die for romantic hero.  What I loved more though was the heroine Sarah.  I found Sarah to be a delightful heroine and appreciated that she was not made instantly into a “super spy”, but more like the bumbling, frightened and unsure woman that she was.  Never sure who to trust, or how she was supposed to go about with the tasks set before her, and can’t lie to save her life.  The author does a wonderful job in creating scenes and situations that are suspenseful and fraught with tension without it overshadowing the love story.  There was only one element of the story that disappointed me.  I don’t want to say too much about it because it involves the ending and a revealing of a dark and long held secret, but I felt that it cheapened Sarah’s character as well as the story and made it seem somewhat cliché in an otherwise exceptional historical romance.  To me Sarah was brilliant as Sarah and didn’t need to be more than she was in order to be worthy or acceptable to Julien.  While the author’s reasons for the change in Sarah’s character are justified by the plot, I felt that this added twist to the story actually took away from my enjoyment and left me somewhat disappointed at the end instead of maintaining my feelings of delight when it was all said and done.  

Despite the ending that left a bad taste in my mouth, overall I found The Making of a Duchess to be well worth the reading experience and I am eagerly awaiting the second book in this series, The Making of a Gentleman (Oct 2010).

Overall:  4.0 stars
Sensuality level:  2.5

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Anonymous,  July 5, 2010 at 1:12 AM  

Nice review, Carrie! This one actually sounds like a story I might really enjoy. We'll see how the end sits with me ;)

Hope you had a good holiday weekend.

Anonymous,  July 6, 2010 at 1:09 PM  

Great review thanks for sharing!

Anonymous,  July 6, 2010 at 2:48 PM  

I agree with you. Too often a good book is diminished by the inclusion of something to make it "correct" for the period. I can understand having to keep things accurate, but you would hope the author could find another way to go about it.
I am looking forward to reading this book.

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