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The Forgiven Duke

By Jamie Carie
Paperback, 320 pages
Expected publication: July 1st 2012 by B&H Publishing Group
ISBN: 1433673231 (ISBN13: 9781433673238)


Penny’s Rating: C

Let me preface this review by saying, I am not religious. If I were, I probably really would have enjoyed Jamie Carie’s new novel The Forgiven Duke a good deal more. The main characters are very, very Christian, and while that is probably accurate in a historical context, it really got in the way of the story for me.

The Forgiven Duke is a good yarn, even when you spend half of the time you are reading irritated at one character or another for being naive, stubborn, innocent, or just plain stupid. Alexandra Featherstone has run away from her appointed legal guardian, the handsome duke of St. Easton in order to search for her parents. She is certain are still alive and in trouble somewhere, not dead like everyone thinks. Against her better judgement, in order to follow her parents trail to Iceland, she has promised herself in marriage to one Lord John Lemon. John and Alex journey to Iceland, and frequently masquerade as a married couple so that no one will question their traveling together. Though Alex has made a promise to John, Alex knows that the feelings she has for her guardian are not those of a child for a parent. As a reader, I was easily engaged in Alex’s journey and found her intelligence and enthusiasm endearing. The affection between St. Easton and Alexandra is obvious from their first distant glimpse of each other, and it is clear that they love each other, in spite of the “ridiculous circumstances” that keep them apart for almost the whole book.


Spoiler Alert: Please note, this next segment contains a few spoilers. You have been forewarned.

Below are some of the aforementioned “ridiculous circumstances”:

  • Ridiculous Circumstance #1: Alexandra assumes her guardian will obey the prince regent and drag Alexandra back to England, forcing her to have a season, get married, and give up the search for her parents. That is why she runs away. Actually, St Easton is more than happy to help Alexandra and disobey his orders. So there was in fact, no actual reason for her to run away in the first place.
  • Ridiculous Circumstance #2: St. Easton is hindered in his pursuit of Alexandra by British soldiers, who basically kidnap him, make him a prisoner on their ship, and bring him back to England to meet with his Royal Highness himself.
  • Ridiculous Circumstance #3: St Easton is hindered in his pursuit again, when he is kidnapped (for real) from the streets of London, made prisoner on a ship again, and brought to Spain, where he is tortured for information about the archeological discovery that Alexandra’s parents were pursuing  for when they disappeared.
  • Ridiculous Circumstance #4: John Lemon is a horses ass. He reveals himself as an ass many, many times, but Alexandra in her naivete, gives him the benefit of the doubt again and again. For someone who appears to be extremely smart, Alex is really dumb when it comes to knowing who to trust.
  • Ridiculous Circumstance #5: Neither Alex nor St. Easton follow their hearts. For people who exhibit such tremendous faith in God, neither of them has any faith in their own ability or judgement, or even listens to their own instincts. It’s really annoying, and it causes them nothing but heartache, over and over again throughout the book.

Really. St. Easton is kidnapped twice? Why draw the line there? Shouldn’t he have been sold into slavery too? Maybe in the next book he can be kidnapped by cultists and brainwashed to forget Alexandra. Being kidnapped twice, is just beyond absurd. St. Easton spends a lot of time is this book being seasick and miserable, and then when he finally gets to be with Alexandra, he avoids her like the plague. Are you kidding me? You get kidnapped twice, and tortured, all because of this girl who you love, and now you’re not even going to talk to her? Grrrr.

Alex is no better at honesty than St. Easton. She never talks to him about anything that happened with Lord Lemon, and she really really should. A lie of omission is still a lie. Because of this, readers are left with some major cliffhangers at the end of the book. When the book ends, Alex still hasn’t told St. Easton about John’s trickery and betrayal. So, grrrrrrrrr to her too. Plus, Alex’s parents are still missing, and still in very grave danger, and every government in the world wants to get their hands on their alleged discovery.

I would also like to note, I do think it’s possible to have common sense and have faith in God. In Carie’s world however, for most of the book, they appear to be mutually exclusive. I think this is perhaps why their faith irritates me. It’s not their faith in God per se, so much as their utter rejection of their own conscience and instincts. Here’s my problem with this. If you believe in God, God gave you instincts and a conscience right? So why don’t you listen to them? Of course if you don’t believe in God (like me), you rely on yourself, (not a higher power), so maybe I place more importance on common sense and conscience? I don’t know. There are instances in the book where both Alex and St. Easton realize that in ignoring their own instincts that they are in fact not listening to God, so maybe that is part Carie’s message.

I am, in spite of my irritations with the book, curious to find out what happens to Alex and St. Easton as they embark on their next journey to pursue her parents. I for one will be keeping an eye out for book 3.

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