by Susanna Allen
Series: Shapeshifters of the Beau Monde #1
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Publication Date: April 27, 2021
I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.My rating:
A delicious mix of Regency romance and shapeshifting adventure from author Susan Conley...
Alfred Blakesley, Duke of Lowell, has long been an enigma. No one dares to give a man of his stature the cut direct, but there's simply something not quite right about him. What would the society mamas say if they learned that the something they sensed was the fact that Alfred is a wolf shifter...? He's been looking for his mate for a long time, but not just any young lady will do for him, or for his pack.
Felicity Templeton has one goal: to remain unmarried. If she can manage that until her twenty-fifth birthday, she stands to inherit a large fortune. But when she meets Alfred, the dashing duke is determined to have her for his very own...and a wolf who's a duke can be very persuasive...
Content warnings: View Spoiler »
It’s hard for me to articulate exactly what I was expecting with this book, but I think I expected more of a paranormal romance with historical elements. This is definitely more of a regency historical with a paranormal layer over top. And while overall I enjoyed the book, there were parts that were very problematic for me.
“Fate! I believe in choice, although choice is as elusive to women as is the opportunity to address the House of Lords.”
Alfred, Duke of Lowell, has spent the past five years traveling the globe, trying to find his mate. Frustrated by his fruitless search, the last place he wants to be is a ball – at least until he finally scents her. Felicity’s biding her time until her twenty-fifth birthday, when, according to her uncle, she’ll inherit her parents’ fortune, enough to fund her dreams of horse breeding enterprise. All she has to do until then is stay unmarried. But when the handsome duke sweeps her into a dance – and then into his carriage – her dreams may end up in the gutter with her reputation.
“There is an explanation,” he began.
Felicity exploded. “Wonderful! Finally!” She flung her hands about like a lunatic. “How unlike other men I thought you, Your Grace, as you eschewed explanations left, right, and center. How surprised I was, as there is always some godforsaken reason for every outrage when it comes to men, much more so for titled men.”
There’s definitely some good things about the book. I liked Felicity and how absolute horse-mad she was, and I liked her friend Jemima. There’s some interesting world building (leading back to Romulus and Remus) to explain shifters, and the side characters were humorously very much like their animal selves. The language tended a bit to the overwrought and there’s a lot of very regency vocabulary, from the various groups (Corinthians and Antidotes and Cits, oh my!) to Felicity talking about her “honeypot.” It was at times a bit much but for the most part I enjoyed that. What really soured me on the book was the hero, Alfred.
“It is known as the dominatum, the power of the Alpha. It is employed to prevent poor decisions at best, and insurrection at worst. And to get my way when my way is what is needed…or what I desire.” He belatedly pulled his banyan closed and retied the sash. “It is yet another indication you are meant for me. There is no one else in my life who can resist the compulsion of my power, only you.”
I give a lot of leeway to paranormals and alpha hole heroes. There’s usually some sort of plot reason why they act all alphaholey (and there is in this one!) but a lot of the satisfaction I get from these books is seeing the heroine push back using her own strengths. That’s not really the case in this book. Alfred continuously overrode Felicity’s will and there was seemingly nothing Felicity can do about it – or that she particularly cared to. The initial kidnapping raised my eyebrows because after Felicity was happily ensconced in the lap of luxury, she seemed to quickly lose her anger at the situation – even though the quick marriage that Alfred is pushing would ruin all of her hard work towards her dreams. When he muttered about seeking vengeance against her Evil Uncle, she insisted that he not resort to violence, but he put her off, saying it’s his duty. The worst bit, though, was the dominatum power which he used several times throughout the book to stop his underlings from speaking up against his highhanded ways – though somehow they still viewed him as an exceptional alpha, which does make me wonder how horrible the other ones are. The most unforgivable bit for me was that when she puts a stop during a sexual encounter, he tried to use his alpha powers against her to make her continue. When that failed, he did give in and stop, marveling at how strong she was – without once seeming to understand exactly how wrong what he tried to do was.
Overall, I’d probably give this 2.5 stars. There’s some interesting things going on, but the problematic content squashed a lot of my enjoyment.