My review contains spoilers and they're mostly my thoughts...
This is what I thought in a nutshell. Looking at the reviews, I seem to be the minority here but it’s what it is. The Ice Duchess by Amy Rose Bennett wasn’t what I had anticipated it would be. I have been waiting for this one since I read book 1 of Scandalous Regency Widows, Lady Beauchamp’s Proposal. While I absolutely adored book 1, this did not hold my attentions for long.
Our h, Georgiana had a sad past, which made her so wary of men that she’d not fall in love or marry. Since she also didn’t want to spend her life as a spinster, Georgiana or Georgie as her family calls her, ended up marrying a good friend Teddy, who was also a Duke. But there was a secret to their marriage not everyone knew, and the few who did, never talked about it. Georgiana’s brother, Jonathan, is gay. And Teddy was his lover. With the taboo surrounding the whole thing, they had to find a way to continue on. Georgiana was eager to help too.
Even though it was a total MOC with no plans for a consummation (seeing Georgiana wanted it that way), she’d always known what Jonathan and Teddy were up to. She was happy with this arrangement, protected by Teddy’s title, enjoying his platonic company. Sadly, he suddenly passed away a few years ago, leaving Georgiana bereaved (though it didn’t look like Jonathan was as sad as she was). She still grieved for her friend, and at the same time, determined to remain a widow. She didn’t want any entanglement with any men, not even for a bit of fun. But Jonathan and their friends, a couple, Philip and Helena (who I think also appeared in book 1), wanted to get her out of her shell and have her meet other men. But with her aloof and cold demeanor, though beautiful, Georgiana had already garnered the title of the Ice Duchess and no man, so far, had been able to break her out of it.
Until one day, when Rafe Landsbury, an Earl, is thrust upon her by the meddling above mentioned brother and friends. It was pre-planned, the whole game of cards, which Georgiana played rather well. But Rafe’s dubious charm, alongside his good-looks addlepated her so badly that she ends up losing. For the first time in her life. Then she loses again when challenges are thrown with stipulation. Rafe just wants to have some “fun”. He already knew he’d been able to ruffle the Ice Duchess quite well. He’s a known rake and this gives his ego a big boost. He wanted Georgiana in his bed, as soon as possible..... which happens rather quickly, and knowing her abhorrence for men, I couldn’t believe how easily Georgiana let Rafe touch her and jumped into his bed too! Most especially, when I finally learned of what happened to her! Regardless, their affair begins with the blessing of Jonathan, Phillip and Helena. I think that was the first time I was rather put off by the story; everything happened too soon for my liking where chemistry was rather lukewarm at best.
Rafe was introduced in book 1 as the hero’s friend, and had a brief appearance. But I remember precious little about him to judge him by because I read that one in 2014. In this book, I didn’t care neither for him, nor Georgiana. There was a murder mystery plot brewing too, a past of Rafe’s coming back of haunt him. A shadow from his days as a spy of the Crown. That bit was quite the mess, with many, many affairs, all in the name of the King and country (yeah right!). One of those went wrong, the woman was murdered and her vengeful husband is now onto Rafe, and Georgiana too, because of her involvement with him. I generally don’t care for rakes, and wasn’t really amused reading about his ‘rakish days’, with stories to go with no less! But Georgiana seemed quite interested in them. :/ Either way, that was the second thing that put me off the story.
It seemed that Rafe had feelings for Georgiana too but he wasn’t certain if it’s safe to be a committed relationship. To prove his point, she’s thrust into the danger’s path a few times, the last being quite nerve wrecking so Rafe decides to end things with her. Just like that. Completely in her face, leaving Georgiana shattered since she was totally in love with him. His reason, if he’s not around then she’d not be in any danger again. :|
A month later, she had decided to do the same thing she’d done with her first marriage; this time to save her unborn child from the stigma of being born a bastard. Georgiana knew it’s pointless to tell Rafe since he’s washed his hands off her. This new young Lord that Jonathan is involved with now can give her a home, and a name for her baby, even if she’d never know a man’s touch again. I found it rather troubling that Jonathan was fine with the whole thing once again; that he didn’t seek Rafe out and demanded that he do the right thing! Was he simply taking advantage of his sister’s sad situation? I don’t know but it didn’t feel quite right.
Anyway........Rafe was woken up from his drunken stupor by the news of Georgiana’s marriage. The only thing that stirred Rafe though, was a possibility that she maybe pregnant, which must be the reason why she was hastily going down a path she refused to until now. I distinctly felt if she didn’t confirm her pregnancy to him, Rafe wouldn’t really have bothered to step into her life again. I wasn’t sure I liked that thought. I did like Georgiana at first, but I never could understand what exactly she saw in Rafe, and it took its toll on me in the end.
I really, really wanted to like The Ice Duchess; trust me, I tried. I even stopped reading for a while cause sometimes, when a book doesn’t work the way I hoped it would, I leave it off for a while and it bounces right back. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen here. *sigh* BUT that doesn’t mean I’ve lost interest in the series. It’s quite common to not love all the installments in a series, at least for me. And I love Amy’s writing style, so I’ll be waiting to see what’s next from her. 3 stars.
PS: I still highly recommend Lady Beauchamp’s Proposal. Go check it out!
Review copy received from the author, thanks Amy! x