By Charis Michaels
Publication Date: August 24, 2021
Series or Standalone: Awakened by a Kiss #2
Links: Amazon – Barnes & Noble – Goodreads
Content warning: This book contains discussions of miscarriage
When You Wish Upon a Duke is book two in Charis Michaels Awakened by A Kiss series. This book offers Michaels’ spin on Peter Pan, focusing on Tinker Bell. While I enjoyed this one, I didn’t find it as magical as A Duchess A Day, the first book in the series that I absolutely adored. The tone in this one felt a little more serious at times, which isn’t a bad thing, but it wasn’t as light-hearted a romp as A Duchess A Day. However, I still really loved the spin Michaels put on the classic tale of Peter Pan and how she wove different elements of that story into this historical romance.
After spending her youth cavorting around Europe with the Lost Boys, Isobel Tinker has worked hard to build a respectable life as a travel agent at Everland Travel Agency, helping women book trips around the world. When Jason “North” Beckett, the new Duke of Northumberland and former spy, shows up in her back alley asking for her to serve as a guide on a rescue mission he’s undertaking in Iceland, Isobel’s life gets turned upside down. She vowed never to go back to Iceland, but when North promises her own travel agency in exchange for acting as his guide, it’s too good a deal to pass up. Forced with confronting her past and fighting her attraction to North, this trip could make or break Isobel.
First off, the plot of this was so much fun! You get pirates and a high-stake adventure in Iceland – I feel like that’s where some of the whimsy of the fairytale really comes in. I honestly don’t think I’ve ever read a book – historical or otherwise – set in Iceland, and I really loved the setting. I feel like Michaels described it beautifully and I loved how a few of the romantic scenes even highlighted the land’s natural beauty. The pirate plot was a lot of fun, though I did expect the stakes to be a little higher during the rescue mission and felt like it resolved itself a little too efficiently.
In terms of the characters, I really admired Isobel. This girl went through so much in her youth and it left some deep emotional scars. She’s been hurt and abandoned by so many men in her life. However, she didn’t let that tamp down her spirit. Instead, she channeled her energy into helping other women gain some semblance of freedom and independence by using her knowledge to build and run a successful travel agency. I really loved that she’s a smart, successful and independent woman. She knows her own flaws and strengths and won’t be pushed around by others. Considering everything she’s gone through in her life, I loved her fortitude and spirit.
Then we have Jason “North” Beckett, the new Duke of Northumberland. He’s a fascinating character to me and I really liked his vibe and energy. For most of his life, he’s been acting as a spy for the Foreign Office, but after the death of his father and two eldest brothers, he unexpectedly finds himself the Duke. He’s totally ill-suited for the role of Duke. Idleness and sitting behind a desk all day long are not for him. He wishes he could continue his job with the Foreign Office, but he knows he cannot let his family down by forgoing his role as Duke. I really liked his personality – there was something very light-hearted, carefree and charming about him. I’m also always picturing him leaning on something – he tends to do a lot of that – which I think illustrates some of that carefree attitude. Despite that, he’s also incredibly smart and good at what he does as a spy. I loved that he valued Isobel’s intelligence and knowledge – that was one of the first things that attracted him to her. He also was not pushy at all when it came to a relationship with her. He could see she had barriers up and instead of pushing her, he let her open up and trust him on her own terms.
In terms of the romance in this book, I liked it, but I also felt like it was missing something. I cannot put my finger on what was missing, but I felt like the spark between Isobel and North wasn’t always there. It would flicker and spark up at some point but fizzle out at others. What I did appreciate and enjoy with the romance was that it wasn’t built purely on lust. For a historical romance, this book is very light on the sexy times and they don’t actually get together fully until the very end of the book. I think that worked in this book’s favor as it allowed the romance to be built up over the course of the novel and the relationship be built on trust and understanding.
My one issue with the romance was towards the end. I felt the drama introduced in the final act could have been easily avoided if both characters talked to each other. Also, I got a little annoyed with Isobel towards the end as she insisted North would change his mind about their relationship, despite him constantly saying and reassuring her he wouldn’t. It did lead to a little bit of unnecessary heartache for both of them.
Overall, this was a fun reinterpretation of Peter Pan. Peter Pan was always one of my favorite fairy tales growing up and I loved the spin Michaels put on it. All the nods to the original tale made me smile so much.
The romance was cute, and I felt like these two characters definitely earned their Happily Ever After. I was genuinely so happy for both of them in the end as they were able to overcome all the barriers in their lives to find true happiness. If that doesn’t encapsulate the perfect HEA in romance and fairytales, I don’t know what else does.
While I like this one a bit less than A Duchess A Day, I still recommend you check this out. It’s a great escape from the real world for a little bit as it takes you on a fun adventure to Iceland and offers up an inventive reimaging of a classic tale with some romance sprinkled in.
I desperately hope we get more books in the Awakened by a Kiss series as I truly enjoy Michaels’ writing and her reimaging of classic stories. I love to see her do spin on Sleeping Beauty or Beauty and the Beast next as I feel like she’d present these classic tales in a fun new light.
Thank you to Avon/Netgalley for the ARC. All thoughts, ideas and opinions expressed in this review are my own.