Sunday, April 18, 2021

A Wolf in Duke’s Clothing by Susanna Allen: review

3/5 stars on Goodreads

A Wolf in Duke's Clothing by Susanna Allen

A Wolf in Duke’s Clothing by Susanna Allen starts Shapeshifters of the Beau Monde series. It’s a Regency romance with paranormal elements, not a paranormal romance set in a Regency world. It might seem like a small difference, but it can mean a lot for readers who like one but not the other genre. Luckily, I like both.

All the tropes are from Regency romances. We have an orphan heiress at the mercy of a dastardly guardian, a duke who sweeps in to rescue her, Ton parties, ball gowns, and a lot of floral language that borders on incomprehensible as a synonym after another is thrown at the reader.

As a Regency romance, the book works fairly well, but it drags on far too long after the plot has already ended. Nothing significant happens after the consummation of the marriage and some storylines are completely forgotten, like the missing horse. And I don’t think the author understands what an epilogue means. The ending was positively bizarre.

The weakness of the book is in its paranormal elements. There’s a lot of mythology, but none of the excitement. The dynamics of the pack are really off. Everyone shows constant deference to the alpha—Alfred, the romantic hero—and the moment they aggravate him, he subdues them with his alpha power. They seem to believe he’s a great man, but I couldn’t help thinking that they were hostages to his power and said whatever he wished them to. I certainly wasn’t shown otherwise.

His behaviour is at worst in his dealings with Felicity, the heroine. First he abducts her. Then he tries his alpha powers on her. It’s bad enough in an ordinary situation, but then he tries to subdue her with the power when she refuses sex. The moment she says no, his first instinct is to take her will away. Not once but several times.

That she’s able to resist him isn’t relevant (it could’ve been demonstrated in a different situation completely), nor is it relevant that he was, for the most part, a nice man. The point is that he’s the kind of man who naturally considers taking a woman’s will away to have his way with her the moment she resists him. He stops this after a while, but only because he knows it doesn’t work. That he shouldn’t do it isn’t even addressed.

Not all alphas need to be the same. That would make a boring read. But all romantic heroes, regardless of the genre, should be strong enough that their weaknesses don’t manifest as bullying. I was so disgusted with Alfred that I ended up skipping all the sex scenes. Luckily they were at the end of the book, which was overlong as it was.

This could’ve been a good book, a fresh take on two genres. Now it sort of failed both because the hero was such a disappointment. Fans of Regency romances might find this a refreshing change of pace, if they can ignore the hero. Fans of paranormal romances might want to give it a pass. However, I think I’ll read the next book too, if only to find out if it has a better hero.

I received a free copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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