It Had to Be a Duke by Vivienne Lorret

In It Had to Be a Duke, near-spinster Verity has had it with her horrible snob of a neighbor (whom she aptly refers to as “the Tick”). The Tick seems to live for insulting and undermining Verity at every turn. When she pushes Verity’s last button, Verity snaps and fibs that she’s betrothed to Magnus, the Duke of Longhurst, who happens to despise her family. And who also happens to be courting an heiress (whose dad is none to pleased to hear a rumor that Magnus is already betrothed).

Of course, when Magnus shows up to correct the falsehood, all hell breaks loose, the village is aflutter, and nothing is as simple as he thought.

It Had to Be a Duke is entertaining and fun, if a little absurd. This is a book purely to read for fun—there’s little depth and not much character development. Verity is good-natured and kind, but also ridiculous and not the wisest decisionmaker. I loved her at times and cringed for her/rolled my eyes at her at times. Magnus is rude, self-righteous, and judgey, and just awful to Verity (I understand to a certain point—I’d be a little vexed if a family enemy claimed to be my fiancé—but blechh, he’s a jerk). Luckily, he improves. Eventually.

Verity and Magnus’ relationship stays as-is for way too long—they hate each other, keep hating each other, get weird feelings here and there, and continue acting the same. It gets better when they slowly start realizing their attraction, and more, but they know nothing can come of it. And there are plenty of funny moments along the way.

Ok, some complaining out of the way, so what were the high points, in addition to the general fun? Enjoy a good side plot and a mystery about the reason the families became enemies in the first place, and all is not what it seems (there has to be a way to tie up all the loose ends and pave the way for the HEA, right?). Karma finds the Tick (sort of). Verity’s family is funny and loving; Magnus’ grandmother is formidable but understanding and lovely, and sees what’s between them.

Overall—fun, glad I read it, would recommend for a light read. Also, thumbs up for the audiobook narrator, Faye Adele. She was easy to listen to and did a nice job changing up her voice for the different characters.

Rating: 3.5
Steam: Low
Themes and Tropes: Enemies to Lovers, Fake Betrothal, Mystery Subplot, Grumpy/Sunshine
Pair With: Wines enjoyed in the Regency period.