Not the Duke’s Darling (Greycourt, #1)
New York Times bestselling author Elizabeth Hoyt brings us the first book in her sexy and sensual Greycourt Series!Freya de Moray is many things: a member of the secret order of Wise Women, the daughter of disgraced nobility, and a chaperone living under an assumed name. What she is not is forgiving. So when the Duke of Harlowe, the man who destroyed her brother and led to the downfall of her family, appears at the country house party she's attending, she does what any Wise Woman would do: she starts planning her revenge.Christopher Renshaw, the Duke of Harlowe, is being blackmailed. Intent on keeping his secrets safe, he agrees to attend a house party where he will put an end to this coercion once and for all. Until he recognizes Freya, masquerading amongst the party revelers, and realizes his troubles have just begun. Freya knows all about his sins—sins he'd much rather forget. But she's also fiery, bold, and sensuous—a temptation he can't resist. When it becomes clear Freya is in grave danger, he'll risk everything to keep her safe. But first, Harlowe will have to earn Freya's trust-by whatever means necessary.Features a bonus novella from New York Times bestselling author Grace Burrowes!

Not the Duke’s Darling (Greycourt, #1) Details

TitleNot the Duke’s Darling (Greycourt, #1)
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseDec 18th, 2018
PublisherForever
ISBN-139781538763520
Rating
GenreRomance, Historical Romance, Historical, Historical Fiction

Not the Duke’s Darling (Greycourt, #1) Review

  • WhiskeyintheJar/Kyraryker
    January 1, 1970
    2.5 starsI received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review. First in the new Greycourt series, Hoyt starts us off with a spot of danger as our heroine, Freya, is on the run from some men and finds herself face to face with her childhood crush, Christopher, but who she also blames for her brother's downfall. There's some background foundation to the hows and whys of where our characters are at in life. The main 2.5 starsI received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review. First in the new Greycourt series, Hoyt starts us off with a spot of danger as our heroine, Freya, is on the run from some men and finds herself face to face with her childhood crush, Christopher, but who she also blames for her brother's downfall. There's some background foundation to the hows and whys of where our characters are at in life. The main thread is Freya's brother, Ran, tried to elope with Julian Greycourt's sister, she ended up dying (we aren't given specifics), and Christopher just stood by while Ran was beaten bad enough he ended up losing his right hand. Ran, Julian, and Christopher were bestfriends but this fractured their bond and they all separated, the other members of the family cut ties all with each other also. The Wise Women had long been hunted by Dunkelders— nasty, superstitious fanatics who knew about the Wise Women and believed they were witches who should be burned. While the ill fated elopement gave us the underlining emotional tones, the Wise Women that Freya is the Macha (spy) for, gives us the suspense as she is trying to stop a law in the House of Lords that gives free reign to declaring women witches along with her trying to hide from members of the Dunkelders, men who hunt “witches”. These are the two main plot threads but there are numerous other ones, some slight and others weighty, that at times only clog an already full story. Christopher has PTSD induced anxiety from his time in India, we get povs from an old friend of Freya's, Messalina Greycourt, who's storyline looks to be set-up for the next in the series, an imprisoned wife, and a whole slew of secondary characters that get little mini-plots of their own. I like full stories but none of these threads or plots were fully fleshed out and it left a lot feeling shallow and dull. This, this was what he’d been missing without even realizing it: genuine conversation. Genuine feeling. The romance and chemistry between Christopher and Freya was severely lacking for me; I had more fond feelings for the relationship between him and his dog. Hoyt has been a favorite with word play, sexual and taunting, but these two never sparked; it felt like he just found her attractive out of nowhere, while she relied on childhood feelings and the color of his pretty blue eyes. While their bedroom scenes didn't start ridiculously early, besides kissing once or twice, when they do start to get hot and heavy, Freya's first move is to give him a blowjob, because of course. The latter second half brought more sexual scenes but I almost found myself skimming them as their emotional connection wasn't there. He might be a duke now, but she was a de Moray woman , small, swift, and above all ruthless. My biggest disappoint and what frustrated me the most was that Hoyt introduced these interesting ideas, plots, or instances but they all happen off script. The intense ill fated elopement? Happens before this story takes place, no prologue to introduce, show, and explain the basis for the whole the series. Christopher's time in India? No flash back scenes to help immerse the reader into the emotional turmoil of his PTSD or his relationship with is first wife. Freya spending time with the Wise Women? It takes an absurd amount of time for the reader to even get a full explanation of who and what the Wise Women are, let alone the author writing and showing scenes of Freya interacting with the women. This could have been a great emotional fulfillment moment of showing women taking care of one another, bucking the system in a way they could, and female bonding while providing a solid and understandable reason for why this group was so important to Freya and why she might shy away from marrying Christopher.I missed Hoyt's normally atmospheric writing, I did not feel the time period at all, and the sexual heat between the leads that she has a knack for expressing. This honestly felt kind of generic and with dukes popping up everywhere, I'm not sure I could pick this book out of a lineup. The second book is set-up here and with two leads that at least seem like they have some spark, I will give it a try but am hoping for more showing than telling and emotion.****************************************************Whimpers*
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  • Caz
    January 1, 1970
    I've given this a C at AAR (which I think was probably over-generous).Hard as it is for readers when a favourite, long-running series ends, it must be equally so for the author who has lived with those characters and scenarios for years – and who then has to follow up that success with something new that will continue to please fans of the previous books as well as, hopefully, gain them new ones. Having closed the book on the hugely popular Maiden Lane series last year, much-loved author Eliza I've given this a C at AAR (which I think was probably over-generous).Hard as it is for readers when a favourite, long-running series ends, it must be equally so for the author who has lived with those characters and scenarios for years – and who then has to follow up that success with something new that will continue to please fans of the previous books as well as, hopefully, gain them new ones. Having closed the book on the hugely popular Maiden Lane series last year, much-loved author Elizabeth Hoyt now faces that particular challenge, and presents the first book in a new Georgian era series about the Greycourt family and their immediate circle – Not the Duke’s Darling.If you’ve looked at the advance reviews on Goodreads, you’ll have seen a plethora of four and five star reviews for the book, so I’m afraid I’m going to be a dissenting voice. Not the Duke’s Darling was Difficult to Get Through. It took me twice as long as it would normally have taken me to read a book of this length, mostly because I was able to put it down easily and wasn’t engaged enough to want to pick it up again. There were a variety of reasons for this, not least of which are that the book is disjointed, episodic and overstuffed with plot, the heroine is hard to like, and the romance is woefully underdeveloped.The Greycourt series is predicated on a tragedy that occurred some fifteen years earlier which tore apart three families who had previously been very close. The death of sixteen-year-old Aurelia Greycourt, who had been set to elope with eighteen-year-old Ranulf de Moray, eldest son of the Duke of Ayr, had far ranging repercussions which left Ran crippled and near death, and his friend, Christopher Renshaw, hustled away to India and an arranged marriage with a young woman he’d met exactly twice before.Ran, who inherited the title Duke of Ayr almost immediately after these events, lives as a recluse and his brother Lachlan administers the dukedom. Ran’s sisters – Caitriona, Elspeth and twelve-year-old Freya – were sent to live with their Aunt Hilda in a remote village in the Scottish Highlands, where they learned the ways of the ancient secret society of Wise Women, a group dedicated to helping women throughout Britain utilising their centuries-old knowledge of herbs and healing. Once a thriving group of thousands, the witch hunts of the previous centuries have decimated their number and even though these were made illegal by Witchcraft Act of 1735, old beliefs and superstitions continue to run rife, and Wise Women still run the risk of accusations of witchery being levelled against them.You can read the rest of this review at All About Romance .
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  • Astrid - The Bookish Sweet Tooth
    January 1, 1970
    The majority of books in Elizabeth Hoyt's Maiden Lane series are my all time favorites so maybe my expectations were too high when I started reading NOT THE DUKE'S DARLING. However, there are several reasons I didn't enjoy this as much as I was hoping. And here is why:The heroine is part of a group called Wise Women. They are being mentioned but the explanation what they are comes to light at the 72% mark. Yep, that's how long you can guess. Some may find this entertaining, but it left this re The majority of books in Elizabeth Hoyt's Maiden Lane series are my all time favorites so maybe my expectations were too high when I started reading NOT THE DUKE'S DARLING. However, there are several reasons I didn't enjoy this as much as I was hoping. And here is why:The heroine is part of a group called Wise Women. They are being mentioned but the explanation what they are comes to light at the 72% mark. Yep, that's how long you can guess. Some may find this entertaining, but it left this reader confused, especially because the members had special names that didn't make much sense. Macha was a spy, and the Crow...still not sure about her role...The solution to the riddle was anti-climactic.The heroine was a shrew for a loooong while. Look, I don't mind prickly, spirited heroines and I understood why Freya disliked Christopher - the tragedy that crippled her brother and the role Christopher played in it - but once she fell in love with him the reason didn't matter anymore, only her independence kept her from committing. She’d never before met a man outside her family who considered a woman’s being willing to act on her own decisions a good thing. She knew early on that Christopher wouldn't cage her in and take away her independence. It just felt like an excuse and at some point I didn't think Freya deserved Christopher.The reason for Christopher's actions that faithful night was never fully explained. (view spoiler)[ That Christopher stood by while his friend and Freya's brother was beaten to a pulp and crippled, their friend Julian demanding from Christopher not to interfere, without asking why. His apology "I was weak" doesn't make him attractive. (hide spoiler)]. It may be a set up for their friend Julian's book but if that is the case EH didn't do this book a favor because how can I root for somebody like that? Miraculously I did, although I could never really forget what he did. I really liked Christopher who had a good heart and actually loved the heroine's bristling. “Don’t change. Don’t ever change. I like your prickliness, your scowls, the way you argue with me so fiercely." Christopher and Freya's love was pretty instantaneous. They'd seen one another last when Freya was still a teenager and Christopher on the verge of becoming a man. When they meet again it takes only a couple of days for the hero to decide that he loves Freya and wants to marry her. And while I'm usually not too bothered by insta-love I have to at least feel the connection. Which I didn't. I didn't feel very invested in their relationship and it took me way longer to get through this story than it should have.What saved this book was Elizabeth Hoyt's beautiful writing and I do hope the next story in this series will be a little more plotted out and we'll get answers we were denied in NOT THE DUKE'S DARLING. He looked at Freya’s sleeping face and wished he could cut open his chest and reveal his heart, because he hadn’t the words to tell her what she meant to him.
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  • Bubu
    January 1, 1970
    1.5 starsRight! You have two choices, though they're by no means mutually exclusive.You can either simply scroll through my updates, and you'll get the gist of my overall feelings about Not the Duke's Darling'. Or - and that's by far the better option, in my opinion - you can read the excellent reviews already written by Caz, Kyraraker and Jan.This is not laziness on my part for a change. I'd say so, if it was. There's simply nothing I could possibly add in regards to the many, many weaknesses o 1.5 starsRight! You have two choices, though they're by no means mutually exclusive.You can either simply scroll through my updates, and you'll get the gist of my overall feelings about Not the Duke's Darling'. Or - and that's by far the better option, in my opinion - you can read the excellent reviews already written by Caz, Kyraraker and Jan.This is not laziness on my part for a change. I'd say so, if it was. There's simply nothing I could possibly add in regards to the many, many weaknesses of this book. Apart from the usual trademark Elizabeth Hoyt applies to all of her books by opening every chapter with the little fairy tale she comes up with, Not the Duke's Darling did not feel like an Elizabeth Hoyt book at all. My disappointment, and I'm not exaggerating, knows no bounds. The Maiden Lane series was a hit and miss for me. But even the books that I considered a miss were still way above the usual romances this sub genre usually offers. Even if I give Not the Duke's Darling the benefit of 'the first in a series, therefore too many characters and subplots', this one was awful. Had I read this book as a first-time-Elizabeth-Hoyt reader, I would have probably not bothered again.I was of a mind of slapping this book with a 1-star rating. However, going through my 1-star shelf, I know there are worse romances out there. But within the work of Ms. Hoyt, this is definitely the weakest yet. Let's hope (in my case kneel, crawl, pray, beg) that the next one will be better. That said, I don't know how it could get any worse, unless it's as bad as this one. Then I'll definitely have a problem.Until then... As a side note, I should adopt some of Melody's shelves. Apart from being hilarious, some of them would be spot on for this trainwreck of a book!
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  • Annie (Under the Covers Book Blog)
    January 1, 1970
    NOT THE DUKE’S DARLING is the first book in a new series called the Greycourt. Guys, this series is so fun! If you’re a fan of the Maiden Lane series or like a little bit of action in your Historical Romance, then I’m sure you’ll love this book as well.The heroine, Freya, was really fun and cool. She’s a member of the secret order of Wise Women so there was a lot about her character that I found intriguing. It’s been a while since I’ve been this excited about a new series, especially a Histori NOT THE DUKE’S DARLING is the first book in a new series called the Greycourt. Guys, this series is so fun! If you’re a fan of the Maiden Lane series or like a little bit of action in your Historical Romance, then I’m sure you’ll love this book as well.The heroine, Freya, was really fun and cool. She’s a member of the secret order of Wise Women so there was a lot about her character that I found intriguing. It’s been a while since I’ve been this excited about a new series, especially a Historical Romance one. But I have some pretty high hopes for this series if the next books are as good as this one.Engaging from the first page, NOT THE DUKE’S DARLING is a refreshing new series filled with action and mischief. I think you’ll love the characters for their unique personalities and interesting motives. Hoyt’s writing has always been fabulous, but her ability to weave suspenseful scenes are what really sets her books apart from the crowd.
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  • ♥Rachel♥
    January 1, 1970
    Freya was a woman of titled nobility but reduced due to a scandal involving her brother and the Greycourts. Christopher, brother’s childhood friend was also involved, and while Freya would like to set him in his place with revenge, it soon becomes apparent that Freya may not know all the details Freya’s newest mission leads her to a house party in order to get close to Lord Randolph, a man who wants to pass a law to once again subject women to witch trials. Lord Randolph had a wife, a much young Freya was a woman of titled nobility but reduced due to a scandal involving her brother and the Greycourts. Christopher, brother’s childhood friend was also involved, and while Freya would like to set him in his place with revenge, it soon becomes apparent that Freya may not know all the details Freya’s newest mission leads her to a house party in order to get close to Lord Randolph, a man who wants to pass a law to once again subject women to witch trials. Lord Randolph had a wife, a much younger woman, who died under questionable circumstances, and Freya wants to make sure Lord Randolph didn’t get away with murder. Little did she know that Christopher, now Duke of Harlow, would also be at this house party. Christopher accepts the invitation to deal with a despicable man trying to blackmail him. As they each deal with their own challenges they can’t help but be drawn to each other. Freya, because she loved Christopher once upon a time, even though she’s angered over his part in her brother’s ruin. Christopher can’t resist the feisty woman who pushes his every button with her sharp wit and cutting words. Soon they’re stealing away to satisfy the fiery passion between them and I could feel the heat coming off the pages every time they came together!I love that Freya was a strong woman, not really influenced by societal norms here. She’s undercover, hiding the fact that she’s a duke’s daughter to get close to those who would reinstate antiquated laws in order to punish and subject woman who don’t fit into their boxed expectations. Even though I liked Freya I was a little irritated with her actions in the end. A smart woman should use all her assets to keep safe, such as asking for backup or help when facing danger. Going off alone isn’t the wisest thing in my opinion, especially a woman facing off with a man. Her resistance to Christopher was annoying, too, even though it was clear she loved him as he loved her. Thankfully, these situations weren’t long and drawn out so I still really enjoyed the story. Elizabeth Hoyt’s historical romances are always beautifully written, sensual and captivating so I was excited to dive into her new series. Not the Duke’s Darling was an entertaining start to what looks to be a fantastic series! Can’t wait for the next story! A copy was kindly provided by Forever via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
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  • Nenia ✨ Queen of Literary Trash, Protector of Out-of-Print Gems, Khaleesi of Bodice Rippers, Mother of Smut, the Unrepentant, Breaker of Convention ✨ Campbell
    January 1, 1970
    You know that scene in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom where the evil dude rips the heart out of that one guy's chest?I wish I could do that, only with this book and me ripping it out of the alternate dimension where it's already been written.*wiggles fingers evilly*I NEED THIS YOU GUYS, HOLY SHIT
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  • Robin (Bridge Four)
    January 1, 1970
    3.5 StarsI loved almost every book of the Maiden Lane series and so I was extremely excited to start on a new journey with Elizabeth Hoyt in the Greycourt series. Remember this is an introduction book to a new set of characters and overall plot arc so some things take more time than in other books.First and foremost this is a semi-enemies to lovers story and so sometimes the animosity Freya feels for the Duke of Harlowe is a much. Since this is a set up story for more in this world there is a lo 3.5 StarsI loved almost every book of the Maiden Lane series and so I was extremely excited to start on a new journey with Elizabeth Hoyt in the Greycourt series. Remember this is an introduction book to a new set of characters and overall plot arc so some things take more time than in other books.First and foremost this is a semi-enemies to lovers story and so sometimes the animosity Freya feels for the Duke of Harlowe is a much. Since this is a set up story for more in this world there is a long drawn out tease to what the Greycourt scandal of the past was and why Freya became a wise woman. Also the wise women are a bit of a mystery for a long time in this book too. You know that they are women helping other women in need but the whole of who they are takes a long time to get to.I like Freya, she is independent strong and has never been taught to set her worth on a man or the marriage she will make. This in itself is unusual for a Historical Romance novel. Even though she is the sister of a Duke she is undercover working as a paid companion so she can be the eyes and ears of the wise women. It takes a very long time to get to what the Greycourt scandal was and why she hates the Duke of Harlowe so much when as a girl she had fantasies of marrying him. Even once we get to it no questions are really answered and I think that will be in following books where they actually work to solve the murder that happening. This incident doesn’t paint Harlowe in the best light, but it does make his character feel more three dimensional. He is a man that made a mistake as a young man and has paid for it for the last 15 years. He is not the same boy from the night of that tragedy. ❝He was a man, both good and bad and everything in between. A man who made her very aware that she was a woman of blood and bone and wants.❞ The feelings that the two have for each other hit hard in the beginning and the turn from enemies to something more doesn’t take a long time. But still the writing is done well and I enjoyed the journey. I was a little concerned that Harlowe was married but the story of his wife made me feel like he paid and penance that he might have deserved for anything in his boyhood.Overall this is a good introduction to the world and the characters that I think we will see over multiple books. I’m very interested in seeing a few of the characters from this book and meeting Freya’s brother Rand. There seem to be a lot of opportunities for great stories in the future of this series.
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  • Jan130
    January 1, 1970
    2 'it was OK' stars. This much-anticipated first book in a new series by a decent HR writer was actually pretty flat and disappointing for me. Others may enjoy it much more - these are my opinions only. I didn't hate it, but it's a bit of a rant, so feel free to look away now.I just did not get engaged in this book and I couldn't bring myself to care much about the characters. I love the period and place setting (1760, England). But the trope was, for me, pretty lame. It's no spoiler (cos it's o 2 'it was OK' stars. This much-anticipated first book in a new series by a decent HR writer was actually pretty flat and disappointing for me. Others may enjoy it much more - these are my opinions only. I didn't hate it, but it's a bit of a rant, so feel free to look away now.I just did not get engaged in this book and I couldn't bring myself to care much about the characters. I love the period and place setting (1760, England). But the trope was, for me, pretty lame. It's no spoiler (cos it's on the blurb) that the h, Freya, or Miss Stewart, is a member of the ancient Scottish order of 'Wise Women'. Hmm. I have little interest in secret societies, really, even though I know they can work as a central trope. But I'm a bit over the idea, and frankly I think I'd rather you just gave me a woman of her times who lives in her society and experiences the ups and downs of life. But I know many will enjoy the concept, and that's fine.But it wasn't just the trope that I didn't particularly like. IMO this book just isn't Ms Hoyt's best-written book. There was too much going on for readers to easily parse. Too many sub plots simmering away, so you didn't really know which one to concentrate on or care about. Too many characters with confusing names. The h herself with her secret/not-so-secret identity has two names, which is confusing in itself. The dog has a person's name ('Tess') and for a while when she was mentioned I kept thinking she was a person. Then there is Lord Lovejoy and Mr Lovejoy (I think....???) Hmmm. I didn't really connect with H, h or storyline enough to care about them, so I kept getting characters confused, which muddied the waters even more for me. I didn't mind the sisters being named after Roman empresses (Messalina etc) but we didn't see much of them, and it felt too much like they were really there to set up future books rather than to forward the plot of this one.And it didn't feel like there was enough romance and sexual tension between our lovers. They didn't even get down and dirty and do the deed till (view spoiler)[ 2/3 way through the book (hide spoiler)]. I would have liked a bit more overt romance earlier on. I didn't mind the H's past, with the reference to actual historical events (view spoiler)[ the black hole of Calcutta, and also, him being forced into an arranged marriage with a 'simple' woman (hide spoiler)] But for me the whole plot line was unclear for too long. The thing with the Dunkelders got mixed up in my mind with the (view spoiler)[blackmail plot (hide spoiler)] and it all felt confused. And what did really happen with Ran? (Terrible name, BTW!) Who was really to blame? I know there needs to be a certain level of suspense sustained, but if not enough is revealed early enough, readers (like me) are confused and can begin to lose interest. Which is what happened. I started to not care :/I didn't really love the feminist aspect of this story. I know in 2018 authors are expected to write characters who have more agency. I respect that, and will always love a h who is intelligent, strong and has integrity. But I do like a HR to illustrate women of the times who lived within the very real constraints of their day. I found Freya's lecturing Harlowe about women's rights a little tedious, frankly. Isn't there a subtler way Ms Hoyt could have demonstrated their genuine respect for each other?This book also has a little fairy tale/fable type story told in parts at the start of each chapter, just like in the Maiden Lane series. I know many readers love this - that's great for them. Personally I find them tedious and unnecessary, and after reading the first 'instalment', I completely skipped the rest, just as I did in the previous series. But that's not really a complaint - others will enjoy them and it's easy to skip over if you don't like them.So, will I read future instalments in this series? Yes, I'll probably try at least the next one, hoping Ms Hoyt will be better on her game. This was potentially a really good book - mainly just muddied by too many things going on, too many characters. Let's see a clearer focus on our MCs, and with the romance more front and centre.
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  • RachelW (BamaGal)
    January 1, 1970
    This was well written as always with a Hoyt book, and the last part was enjoyable; but I just didn’t find myself gripped by the storyline. It was a bit simplistic, I was not overly engaged with either of the leads, and the story was often rambling and with too many vaguely drawn subplots. I got confused with all the names. There was no consistency in the name being used. Sometimes it was the character’s first name, other times the family name. Add to that the titles and the fake names, and I was This was well written as always with a Hoyt book, and the last part was enjoyable; but I just didn’t find myself gripped by the storyline. It was a bit simplistic, I was not overly engaged with either of the leads, and the story was often rambling and with too many vaguely drawn subplots. I got confused with all the names. There was no consistency in the name being used. Sometimes it was the character’s first name, other times the family name. Add to that the titles and the fake names, and I was often lost as to which character was which. So it was a good read; but not quite what I’ve come to expect from Hoyt.
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