One of my most anticipated books this year is A Caribbean Heiress in Paris by Adriana Herrera, the first in her Las Léonas romance trilogy. Though it doesn’t come out until the end of May, I was hoping I’d get an ARC of it in time for my April reading challenge (to read books set in Paris!). Alas, my dreams haven’t come true yet. But the author did just make available her novella, The Duke Makes Me Feel…, which was first included in an anthology called Duke I’d Like to F…. It’s partially set in Paris, so I figured it’d be a good substitute and a nice preview of her upcoming novel.
The Duke Makes Me Feel… begins in London in 1879. Marena Baine-Torres is a biracial, Latinx, Caribbean immigrant who runs an apothecary. One day a duke strolls into her shop to make an unusual request: help in finding the half-sister he only just discovered he has. His father has died, and his sister deserves her inheritance and all that comes with being part of a noble family. Marena doesn’t entirely trust the Duke of Linley, but she decides to help him out. His half-sister – her best friend – is in Paris with Marena’s sister.
I enjoyed this backdrop story, and though it’s only a novella, it could have easily been expanded into a full-length novel. Readers get a sweet glimpse of family dynamics, friendship, and the value of (non-romantic) love. Even though Arlo only recently learned he even has a half-sister, he’s eager to connect with her and fully welcome her into his life.
There is also some discussion of politics and social issues, including colonialism, class differences, and racism. Being a duke, Arlo has to contend with some problematic roles his family and ancestors have played in harming other people and lands. However, he’s a good one, and he has some background of more enlightened thinking thanks to some in his family. He’s ready and willing to learn more in his interactions with Marena, her sister, and his half-sister.
Now let’s get to the relationship between Marena and Arlo. This is a romance, after all! And as you can guess from the anthology from which it originated, it’s a spicy one at that. Marena and Arlo have an instant attraction to each other. Thankfully, it’s not portrayed as insta-love… that’s not something I ever find believable. But the lust is there, and it’s mutual.
It’d be easy enough for them to pursue a brief, mostly physical relationship with each other. But feelings have a way of sneaking in, and for Marena in particular, that’s scary. She’s a black, Latinx, working class woman; she can’t possibly have a happily ever after with a duke! She would never fit in his world, and he would never consider her for anything more than a mistress… something her pride wouldn’t allow.
What I liked most was those concerns and feelings. However, we also get plenty of spice, even in this shortened format. I’m fine with sex scenes in general, though I will say that I was surprised at how much focus that side of their relationship got here. Personally, I would have liked a bit more time for Marena and Arlo to develop an emotional and mental connection. The romance ratios felt wrong, and I would have preferred more balance between the spicy scenes and some more foundational scenes. But of course, the anthology is called Duke I’d Like to F…, so it’s not like it went against expectations!
One final note: The Duke Makes Me Feel… does features some LGBTQIA+ characters and relationships. I don’t see that much in historical romances, so I was happy for the representation here. Marena is bisexual, and there is also a sapphic relationship between two other characters. More diversity in historical romances, please!
The Duke Makes Me Feel… packs a lot into its shortened format: family complexities, discussions of political and social issues, some LGBTQIA+ representation, and plenty of steamy romance. I think I would have liked it more as a full-length novel; the novella format made some aspects feel rushed, at least for me. But I did like it overall, and I’m still quite exited to read Adriana Herrera’s upcoming novel, A Caribbean Heiress in Paris, due out at the end of May. I will also have to read her other short stories featured in the Rake I’d Like to F… and Villain I’d Like to F… anthologies (the latter of which comes out at the end of this year), as well as her contribution to Amor Actually, which is currently waiting for me in my Kindle. Stay tuned for reviews of all those and more!
Get the Book
You can buy The Duke Makes Me Feel… here – it’s available as a paperback and an ebook.
Please note that the above link is an Amazon affiliate link and I may earn a commission on any purchases you make.
|The Duke Makes Me Feel… by Adriana Herrera|
|From the Anthology:||Duke I’d Like to F…|
|Setting||Paris, France; London, England|
|Number of Pages||166|
|Format I Read||eBook|
|Original Publication Date||March 15, 2022|
Dukes and their demands are nothing new for Marena Baine-Torres.
Her newfound success has her little apothecary teeming with ill-mannered aristocrats. But as tiresome as they are, she needs the business. When the unflappable Duke of Linley storms into her shop and makes her an offer she’d be a fool to refuse, Marena soon finds herself on the adventure of a lifetime with a man who is as infuriating as he is intriguing.
Note: The Duke Makes Me Feel… was originally published in the USA Today bestselling Duke I’d Like to F… anthology, which is no longer available in electronic form.
About the Author
USA Today Best Selling author Adriana was born and raised in the Caribbean, but for the last fifteen years has let her job (and her spouse) take her all over the world. She loves writing stories about people who look and sound like her people, getting unapologetic happy endings.
When she’s not dreaming up love stories, planning logistically complex vacations with her family or hunting for discount Broadway tickets, she’s a trauma therapist in New York City, working with survivors of domestic and sexual violence.
Her Dreamers series has received starred reviews from Publisher’s Weekly and Booklist and has been featured in The TODAY Show on NBC, Entertainment Weekly, NPR, Library Journal and The Washington Post. Her debut, American Dreamer, was selected as one of Booklist’s Best Romance Debuts of 2019, and one of the Top 10 Romances of 2019 by Entertainment Weekly. Her third novel, American Love Story, was one of the winners in the first annual Ripped Bodice Award for Excellence in Romantic Fiction. Adriana is an outspoken advocate for diversity in romance and has written for Remezcla and Bustle about Own Voices in the genre. She’s one of the co-creators of the Queer Romance PoC Collective. Represented by Taylor Haggerty at Root Literary. For publicity inquiries, please contact Kristin Dwyer at Leo PR.
More Reviews of Adriana Herrera’s Writings
Black Love Matters: Real Talk on Romance, Being Seen, and Happily Ever Afters
One of my most anticipated books this month was Black Love Matters: Real Talk on Romance, Being Seen, and Happily Ever Afters, edited by Jessica…
More Books by Adriana Herrera
More Historical Romances
Portrait of a Scotsman
After loving Evie Dunmore‘s first two books – Bringing Down the Duke and A Rogue of One’s Own, both part of the League of Extraordinary Women series – I’ve…
The Devil and the Heiress
Six months ago, I finished reading The Heiress Gets a Duke, the first in Harper St. George’s Gilded Age Heiresses series. I really enjoyed it,…
To Marry and to Meddle
After adoring everything about To Love and to Loathe last summer, I was eager to continue Martha Waters’s Regency Vows series. I finally read its predecessor, To Have…