The Truth About Love and Dukes & The Trouble with True Love by Laura Lee Guhrke

The Truth About Love and Dukes & The Trouble with True Love by Laura Lee GuhrkeThe Truth About Love and Dukes by Laura Lee Guhrke
Series: Dear Lady Truelove #1
Published by Avon on March 28, 2017
Genres: Historical, Romance
Pages: 384
Format: eBook
Source: Library
AmazonThe Book DepositoryAudible

Dear Lady Truelove . . . I have fallen in love, truly and completely in love, for the first time. The man whom I hold in such passionate regard, however, is not of my station. He is a painter, a brilliant artist. Needless to say, my family would not approve . . .

Henry, Duke of Torquil, wouldn’t be caught reading the wildly popular “Dear Lady Truelove” column, but when its advice causes his mother to embark on a scandalous elopement, an outraged Henry decides the author of this tripe must be stopped before she can ruin any more lives. Though Lady Truelove’s identity is a closely guarded secret, Henry has reason to suspect the publisher of the notorious column, beautiful and provoking Irene Deverill, is also its author.

For Irene, it’s easy to advise others to surrender to passion, but when she meets the Duke of Torquil, she soon learns that passion comes at a price. When one impulsive, spur-of-the-moment kiss pulls her into a scorching affair with Henry, it could destroy her beloved newspaper, her career, and her independence. But in the duke’s arms, surrender is so, so sweet . . .

Since I revisited my obsession with historical romance novels back in 2014 by reading my first Tessa Dare, Romancing the Duke, I’ve been constantly on the hunt for more authors who write the sort of historical romance I love. I’ve found Julia Quinn (an oldie but a goodie), Lenora Bell, Courtney Milan, among others. When I first asked for recommendations, Guhrke was one of the names I got from several people, and those people were spot on. Guhrke writes solid, creative, feminist af romance novels, and they’re absolutely what I expect of historical romance of recent years.

There’s a deeply specific subgenre of historical romance where the books center on agony aunts, and tbh I really love it. The premise of the series is based around the advice column of “Lady Truelove,” a fictionalized character written by Irene Deverill, who runs her family’s newspaper single-handed. The agony aunt concept serves as a humorous foundation, yes, but more than that writing advice columns or society gossip was one of the few careers respectable women could have in that era…so long as they do so anonymously.

Irene’s such a badass. She reminds me a lot of Frederica Marshall from Milan’s The Suffragette Scandal, who is also an opinionated suffragette who runs a newspaper. They would totes be besties and dismantle the patriarchy one article at a time. Irene is the granddaughter of a viscount, but she’s happy to have escaped society, thanks to dear old granddad completely cutting off her mother for marrying a newspaperman. She loves being the editor of the paper and advocating for women’s rights in her free time.

Henry, the Duke of Torquil, comes into her life after Lady Truelove advises his mother to marry the scandalous artist she has her heart set on. Henry’s not amused, and he demands that Irene and her younger sister Clara come stay for a fortnight so that Irene can talk his mom out of the plan, which will turn society against them, ducal or not.

Though I never really got emotionally invested in the ship the way I like to, I do love Henry and Irene on an intellectual level. Henry comes off as high-handed and a bit of an asshole, but he’s mostly just deeply protective of those around him. He’s open to listening to Irene’s criticisms of his privilege, and he really learns from her. Of course, I also love any book where the dude is a mess of feels, and the heroine’s holding it together; I like when the men are emotional and the women are more logical. It’s also nice that Henry is in no way a rake at all; he’s rule-bound and traditional, which isn’t a hero type you see very often.

Everything about this romance novel was great. It’s somewhere in the intersection between Courtney Milan and Kate Noble.

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:

I received this book for free from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

The Truth About Love and Dukes & The Trouble with True Love by Laura Lee GuhrkeThe Trouble with True Love by Laura Lee Guhrke
Series: Dear Lady Truelove #2
Published by Avon on January 30, 2018
Genres: Historical, Romance
Pages: 373
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss
AmazonThe Book Depository

Dear Lady Truelove,

I am a girl of noble family, but I am painfully shy, especially in my encounters with those of the opposite sex . . .

For Clara Deverill, standing in for the real Lady Truelove means dispensing advice on problems she herself has never managed to overcome. There’s nothing for it but to retreat to a tearoom and hope inspiration strikes between scones. It doesn’t—until Clara overhears a rake waxing eloquent on the art of “honorable” jilting. The cad may look like an Adonis, but he’s about to find himself on the wrong side of Lady Truelove.

Rex Galbraith is an heir with no plans to produce a spare. He flirts with the minimum number of eligible young ladies to humor his matchmaking aunt, but Clara is the first to ever catch his roving eye. When he realizes that Clara—as Lady Truelove—has used his advice as newspaper fodder, he’s infuriated. But when he’s forced into a secret alliance with her, he realizes he’s got a much bigger problem—because Clara is upending everything Rex thought he knew about women—and about himself. . . .

In quality, The Trouble with True Love is very consistent with The Truth About Love and Dukes. My second Guhrke novel continues with powerful feminist themes and avoidance of typical, problematic romance tropes.

The Trouble with True Love focuses on Clara, Irene’s younger sister. She’s a complete about-face from her older sister: shy, retiring, and dreaming of a husband and family. You actually don’t get too many shy heroines in historical romance, because they’re more difficult to make compelling than the rebellious  or scandalous girls. Clara’s very relatable, though I do think it would have helped to see a bit more of her shyness with others before her romance began and she became predominantly sassy with Rex.

With Irene and Henry abroad for an extended honeymoon, Clara’s been forced to hold down the newspaper fort and the responsibility for writing the Lady Truelove column has fallen to her as well. Unfortunately, Clara does not feel remotely qualified to advise anyone else, lacking the innate confidence of Irene. After sitting in a cafe and overhearing a rake advising his friend on how to keep a woman from leaving him despite his unwillingness to marry her, Clara manufactures a letter to warn the woman away from the man.

The woman duly rejects her lover, who, enraged, blames his friend for blabbing his secrets, as the article is almost word for word the rake’s advice. Said rake, Rex Galbraith, is totes mad, despite the fact that he’d been charmed by her when they danced at a ball; he hadn’t remembered her at first, but it comes back. Clara, due to her distaste for Rex’s advice and behavior, doesn’t have her usual shyness with him, and of course he finds her snarkiness charming.

Despite the fact that the romance trope is a bit more usual, I do actually like this couple even more than Irene and Henry, I think. There’s a really nice slow burn here, as they move from enemies to friends to lovers. They very convincingly become friends as they end up working together (which I super love and which makes the dynamics and Rex’s characterization stand out). Rex comes off as a very convincing scoundrel at the start, but he turns out to be much more complex than he at first appears and in a very believable way. I also like how comfortable they naturally are with each other, able to share confidences without fear.

Though I still haven’t majorly emotionally connected, I’m really impressed with the quality of Guhrke’s novels. I’ll be anticipating book three, presumably their brother’s book.

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:

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