ARC Review: A Spinster’s Guide to Danger and Dukes by Manda Collins

  • Title: A Spinster’s Guide to Danger and Dukes
  • Author: Manda Collins
  • Publisher: Forever
  • Release Date: 3/29/23
  • Genre: Historical Fiction
  • Age Range: Adult
  • Rating: ★★★.5
  • Publisher’s SummaryIt is a truth universally acknowledged that a lady in danger must be in need of rescue, but whether she wants to be rescued is up for debate—for fans of Evie Dunmore and Netflix’s Bridgerton from the bestselling author of A Lady’s Guide to Mischief and Mayhem! England, 1867: Miss Poppy Delamare is living a lie. To escape an odious betrothal, she fled to London where she’s been hiding as the unassuming secretary Flora Deaver. However, when her beloved sister is accused of murder, Poppy cannot leave her to the wolves. Only a most unexpected—and unwelcome—collision interrupts her journey home…Despite a rather dismal first meeting, Joshua Fielding, the Duke of Langham, has no intention of abandoning a lady in need. But he’s not above asking a favor. A fake betrothal will give Poppy and her sister the power of the dukedom and protect Langham from the society misses intent on becoming his duchess. Yet the longer the ruse goes on, the more Poppy and Langham realize how false their first impressions were—and the less pretend their engagement feels. But before Langham can propose in truth, their search reveals a tangled web of lies and betrayals. With time running out, can Poppy and Langham find the real culprit—before Poppy becomes the next victim?

As a fan of Jane Austen and Bridgerton, I was intrigued by the premise of A Spinster’s Guide to Danger and Dukes (even through it’s set in Victorian England and not the Regency period).

This series definitely has Bridgerton vibes. The characters are similarly concerned with propriety and appearances. Poppy is concerned that she will not be accepted by Langham’s family because she was a working woman in London and because her sister is suspected of murder. Poppy deftly handles the snarky comments from Langham’s grandmother’s friends and other members of the ton.

A Spinster’s Guide to Danger and Dukes is the third book in a series, and I do feel like I missed out by not reading the first two books. The book feels like it starts in the middle of the action with Langham and Poppy meeting at the train station. It is clear to the reader that they have a history, but the reader is not let in to what that is. There are references to them not getting along at first, but they are fleeting and without elaboration. Kat and Caro are such interesting characters, who make brief appearances in this third book the series, but they are each the focus of another book in the series. They are working women in a time and place that didn’t make that easy. I might just have to go back and read the first two books in the series.

I love a good cozy murder mystery, and A Spinster’s Guide to Danger and Dukes definitely fits that bill. It is fast paced and fun, but not without its serious moments. A Satanic society and its rituals add a sense of danger and additional mystery to the story. The stakes of the investigation are very high as Poppy’s sister’s life hangs in the balance.

Of course, it is not without romance as well. Langham and Poppy’s relationship is very sweet. They start off not liking each other, but Langham still almost immediately agrees to help Poppy and her sister. I didn’t love the implication that Poppy needs a male savior to fix her problems, but the sense is that Langham just genuinely wants to help. It is also clear almost immediately that they have real feelings for one another even though they are faking their engagement. Langham’s sisters and Poppy’s friends immediately catch on to those feelings and encourage their relationship.

I appreciated that Langham seems to reject societal expectations of women in the Victorian Era. When Poppy voices concern that he doesn’t have faith in her ability to help clear her sister of her brother in law’s murder, he gives her all of his research and allows her to take the lead. While he is hesistant to do so at first, Langham also reveals that he is claustrophic and allows Poppy to support him through his moments of fear.

I enjoyed A Spinster’s Guide to Danger and Dukes, but I think I would have enjoyed it more if I’d read the other books in the series. If you are a Bridgerton fan, you are likely to enjoy this series.

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