Much Ado About Dutton Book Review *Claudia Dain*
Synopsis: It all began in The Courtesan’s Daughter and continued through the next four books of the Courtesan Chronicles. The Marquis of Dutton didn’t pay the slightest bit of attention to Anne Warren until he found out that she was the daughter of a courtesan. His careless, confident, ill-considered pursuit of her began upon that lurid foundation.
Anne had been smitten by the dashing Lord Dutton from her first encounter with him. But to be pursued because her mother was a woman of the demi-monde? No. That was unacceptable. Anne was not going to make the mistakes her mother had made, each decision taking her further down the social ladder. Anne meant to improve her station, not hobble it with an amorous encounter with the nearly irresistible Lord Dutton.
Over the course of the London Season of 1802, Dutton pursued and lost Anne again and again. He became something of a drunken sot about it all, even a laughingstock. When Anne married Lord Staverton, his fall was complete. Anne married wisely, and Dutton was befuddled by it.
Two years later, in the 1804 Season, Anne is a widow and Dutton is sober. Lady Staverton and Lord Dutton, both available and both still interested, continue the seductive dance they began when she was his social inferior. She is no longer his inferior, and because of that, the tables have turned and Dutton is at her mercy.
Or perhaps Anne is at Dutton’s mercy.
It all depends upon whom you ask.
I’ve been a big fan of Claudia Dain’s The Courtesan Chronicles, and was sad to hear Berkley had dropped the series. These books were very loopy and slapstick, with far too many character POVs to count, but Claudia made it work. Her writing reminds me of Sally MacKenzie, who is one of my all time favorite historical romance authors. So I was thrilled to see that Claudia is now self-publishing her Courtesan Chronicles series. We finally get Lord Dutton and Anne Warren’s story that has been building since the first book.
Once again we reconnect with the star of this series, Lady Sophia, an ex-courtesan who ended up marrying well. She is now a much respected peer of the London realm and is big on matchmaking and helping women find their HEA with the man of their dreams. Sophia wants the now widowed Anne to find true love, but uses her subtle ways of manipulation to choose the right man for Anne, who happens to be Lord Dutton, the son of Sophia’s greatest enemy. Sophia doesn’t blame Dutton for his father’s cruelty years prior, and thinks Anne and Dutton would be a great couple. But Anne and Dutton haven’t always gotten long. Two years ago, before Anne married, she and Dutton had a flirtation. Dutton at the time was mainly drunk and didn’t really show Anne in a respectful way how he felt for her. She was insulted and ended up marrying another man who treated her well. Now that Anne is a widow, she is lonely and sets her sights on Dutton who is now sober and gained maturity. But Anne wants a bit of revenge against Dutton and will seduce him in order to make him ask her to marry him in public. Then she will reject him. She agrees to this because Sophia puts the thought in Anne’s head. But Sophia is very skilled with her matchmaking and believes Anne and Dutton will end up falling in love and marry in truth.
Dutton is still very attracted to Anne, but she’s not as biddable and shy as she once was. He ends up playing her game, but changes the rules to suit his needs. Soon these two are having a battle of wits that ends with them half naked and making rushed love during parties and events that should ruin their reputations, but actually has their friends and acquaintances rooting for them with Sophia pulling the strings.
Much Ado About Dutton was a rousing good read, although the cover doesn’t really work for me at all. It simply doesn’t scream historical romance. Otherwise, don’t judge a book by it’s cover because this was a real hoot! Much Ado About Dutton was loopy, off the wall fun. One thing that grew tiresome is the love/hate Dutton and Anne have for one another starts out as adorable but then becomes too much. But then their passions explode and they end up having hot monkey sex everywhere. Poor Dutton doesn’t stand a chance against Anne who uses her feminine wiles to get him to walk to her tune.
I’ll continue reading The Courtesan Chronicles as long as Claudia writes them. I can’t wait for Lady Sophia’s HEA, which is slowly building toward a very satisfying end with a man who is very dedicated to her, but won’t be manipulated like she does with her friends who she tries to make matches for in the hopes they’ll find true happiness.
If you like off the wall comedic historical romance, definitely check out The Courtesan Chronicles and Much Ado About Dutton. (Self-Published, $3.99)
Final Grade: B
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