I reviewed this book for Romance Reader At Heart website:
You know what attracted me to this book? It was the title. If I had read the above blurb first, I would have taken a pass, and that would have been a shame.
Miss Elsie Stanhope is a beautiful, young woman living with her father and their servants in the country estate of Nottinghamshire. In the anticipation of her Birthday Ball, her father hires a very famous mural painter to paint one in their ballroom per Elsie's specific request.
Elsie is very excited about the prospect of having Monsieur Desmarais, the muralist, come over and paint it for her, but she didn't expect him to bring Alexander, his young, mute, and equally talented assistant.
What no one but the residents of their home knows, is that Elsie suffers from insomnia, and every night she roams the rooms and hallways of the estate until, exhausted, she tends to fall asleep anywhere but her own bed.
Alexander had not spoken in two decades, not because he can't, but because he likes his solitude and silence. At the tender age of ten, he was abandoned and forgotten at an asylum. If not for an intuitive doctor and Monsieur Desmarais, he might have died or still been there, rotting behind the walls. For the past twenty years, he was lucky and content to travel with the Master and ply his talent with the brush. He never thought that a young woman such as Elsie would see through him and touch his very soul. To feel such a belonging was to endanger everything he tried so hard to hide from everyone, even from the man he now thinks of as a father.
This story develops at a moderate pace, and it was just perfect as the reader warms up to the characters, secondary included. They are all important to the back-story of both hero and heroine, and appropriately, the author made sure we, the readers, were well informed and able to follow complex relationships developing in front of us.
I am a sucker for a damaged hero, and it was such a pleasure to watch Alexander blossom right in front of me! The author didn't shy away from taking a damaged character and turning him into an awe-inspiring hero.
Ms. Goodger created some memorable secondary characters that brought a smile to my face, like Miss Diane Stanhope, Elsie's aunt, and the Earl of Braddock, who gets taken by a spinster aunt; and Oscar, Lord Hathwaite, Elsie's betrothed and the future Duke of Kingston. The author made sure all were three-dimensional as well, and weren't there for background noise, to be forgotten as soon as we're done with the story. I enjoyed them immensely and hope they all get their own story very soon.
If you're looking for a lighthearted read, WHEN A DUKE SAYS I DO will not be for you, despite some lighthearted moments. For a romance that will melt your heart and make you shed a tear or two, then by all means, pick this one up.