By Diana Quincy
Publication Date: September 29, 2020
Series or Standalone: Clandestine Affairs #1
Links: Amazon – Barnes & Noble – Goodreads
I’ve been meaning to read Her Night With the Duke from Diana Quincy for ages and was so glad when @erinv.for.valkyrie reached out to me on Instagram to do a buddy read of it! I was already hoping to get to this book early this month in preparation for the sequel that was just published and was so happy to have someone to read this with.
Her Night With the Duke is the first book by Diana Quincy that I’ve read. I have to say I liked this! While there were a few things that didn’t fully click with me, I loved the female lead, Leela. Also, can we get more diversity in historical romance? It was great to read a story featuring a half-Arab/half-English female romantic lead.
After being stuck at an inn due to a storm, Leela ends up fending off men harassing with the help of her knife — and a handsome stranger. This handsome stranger is Elliot Townsend, the Duke of Huntington, who got stuck in the inn on his way to meet his prospective betrothed’s family. They have an instant attraction and end up spending the night together. He leaves in the morning before she can learn who he is and they both think they’ll never see each other. However, fate has other plans for them as Leela is Hunt’s prospective mother-in-law.
I somehow forgot the book’s premise as I started reading it, so I was initially incredibly shocked at how quickly the chemistry was there between the two romantic leads and how quickly they jumped into bed. Then I remembered that this is a novel that starts with a one-night stand.
Honestly, I loved this opening. Quincy gives the reader an A+ introduction to our main characters and we get to know their personalities incredibly quickly. The chemistry between them was electric and felt real. It didn’t feel like insta-love as it was more lust than anything else. When they jump into bed within the first few chapters, it works. I was also curious how their relationship would play out later and how it would move from lust to love.
While I did enjoy the romance in this, I felt like as Leela and Hunt got to know each other more, some of that initial spark fizzled for me. Yes, there are some serious barriers to them getting together – namely, he’s going to propose to Leela’s step-daughter. But they ended up throwing up more superficial barriers and kept coming up with excuses for not being together later on that soured me slightly on their romance. There are only so many times you can say “we can’t be together” until it just feels like an excuse, especially as Hunt could choose Leela as nothing was final with his proposal. Hunt also acts like a bit of a dick towards Leela at one point and his grovel didn’t get far enough to make it up for me.
Although some things with the romance didn’t work for me, particularly towards the end, I did really like the characters in this. To me, this book is truly Leela’s story. She was the most robust character and I felt like we spent the most time in her head and with her. Hunt almost felt secondary at times, though he’s just as fleshed out. That wasn’t a bad thing for me as I think Leela was a better character overall and loved getting to be in her head.
As a half-Arab/half-English woman, Leela does not have it easy. I really liked how Quincy handled Leela’s feelings of being an outsider – both to her English and Arabic family. The racism Leela faces throughout the book is heartbreaking, but unfortunately, all too realistic – especially among the upper crust of society. We still have that racism today and I can only imagine how much worse it might have been in the 1800s.
As well as facing racism, Leela also faces a ton of sexism. She’s a writer of an incredibly popular travel memoir. When the publisher finds out she’s a woman, he doesn’t want anything to do with her and thinks she can’t negotiate her fees because numbers are hard for women. My heart broke for Leela many times, but I thought how Leela reacted to these situations she faced really showed off her strength as it seemed to push her more to take control of her life and show people she’s worthy of respect. She’s a woman I can admire. I also love how Hunt would subtly use his position as Duke to confront racist comments. He wasn’t bothered at all by her mixed heritage and instead seemed to view it as a strength, which was lovely to see in a romance novel.
Outside of the main characters, I enjoyed the secondary characters in this novel. Leela’s stepson Edgar, who is technically older than her, was the WORST. I don’t think I’ve ever hated a character in a romance novel as much as I hated him – and that’s a compliment. He’s supposed to be a terrible person and Quincy did a great job with him. I wanted to punch him in the face so many times. His sister and Hunt’s prospective bride, Tori, was the perfect foil for her brother. I loved Tori so much. She’s so shy and nervous. She really only feels comfortable around books. I was rooting for her to get together with Hunt’s secretary the whole time and enjoyed the secondary romance we get for her in this book.
While I loved the characters, I will say I did find the writing at times to be a bit choppy and stilted. I noticed this more in the second half of the book than in the first half. The conversation between Hunt and Leela became more choppy and didn’t flow as naturally as it did at the beginning, which is part of why I think the romance wasn’t 100% perfect for me. The writing in the opening seemed to flow a bit better and I wish that would have been maintained through the book.
Overall, I still enjoyed this story. I loved the premise as it’s such a fun concept that you know will lead to some awkward moments and heart-tugging moments. What stopped me from loving this book was a little bit of choppy writing and how the romance ended up playing out, particularly at the end.
I am excited to read the next book in this series as I think Quincy truly excels with her characters. I love the diversity she has with her characters. Historical romance tends to be dominated by white characters so I loved seeing Arabic characters represented! I can honestly say I don’t think I’ve read a historical romance with an Arab-romantic lead. We need more love stories featuring characters like Leela! Also, I’m dying to get Leela’s brother’s story – I loved the little snippet we got of him.
This book has definitely got me interested in reading more from Quincy. If you’re on the fence about picking this book up, I’d recommend you do as I think you’ll enjoy the story and the characters.