Peregrine Butler's privileged blue-blooded world is rocked to the core when it is revealed he was born before his parents' marriage and therefore is not the legal heir to the dukedom. Facing ruin, Perry must use his charm and good looks to win an heiress—all the while ignoring his fascination with the one interfering and alluring chit who is intent on sabotaging his efforts.
Jordan paints a vibrant picture of Shropshire, a village with so much more to offer beyond the ducal seat at its edges—and in the process, makes a firm argument for more historical romances that dare to live outside the ballroom or even the aristocracy altogether. Her love scenes crackle (don't worry, the book makes good on its deliciously clever title), and Imogen and Perry engage in delightful banter throughout. But the book gets off to a slow start with a few too many flashbacks and dips into the past. It also uses an incident of domestic violence in its climax in a way that diminishes the horror and impact of the situation, instead using it to reunite the protagonists in a throwaway moment for the victims. But for those looking for a historical romp that goes a bit further afield than a 19th century estate, The Duke Goes Down is a delightful diversion.
I am a big fan of Sophie Jordan, and this was a great start for the series. It was well written with a slow-burn romance between two enemies. I look forward to the next book and hope the mystery of the new duke is revealed soon.
Perry and Imogen are such flawed characters that it can be hard to feel invested in their story. As they warm to each other and their chemistry fires up, it becomes more interesting, but the shift from enemies to lovers feels too abrupt, and the pair's final conflict is more exhausting than climactic. Still, Jordan's writing is often lovely, the setting is charming, and there are intriguing secondary characters who will hopefully get their tales told. Not the best series start, but there’s promise for better future installments.