A Lady for a Duke by Alexis Hall is full of heart and a story about acceptance. It has some heavy themes that our characters grapple with, but also has a guaranteed happy ending that makes the journey worth it. While the book suffers at times due to its length and pacing, the characters’ journeys are brilliantly done and full of nuance. Hall focuses on celebrating queer relationships, allowing our heroine, Viola Carroll, a transgender woman, to get her happy ending surrounded by her family and friends.
Viola Carroll gets the opportunity to live truly as herself after she is believed to be killed at Waterloo. While she is welcomed back to her family as her true self, she has forfeited Justin de Vere, Duke of Gracewood, her closest friend who she joined the army with. When circumstances conspire to reunite their families, Viola learns of how her loss affected Gracewood. For the first portion of the story, Gracewood is unaware that Viola is the friend he has been grieving for, and Viola is scared to reveal herself to him. But, they grow close after spending time together at his estate, and Viola sees a side of him she had never seen before, which leads to them developing real feelings.
As a warning to those who are looking for pure escapism, there are difficult moments in A Lady for a Duke by Alexis Hall. I was worried about how Gracewood would take Viola’s reveal, and while he is angry at first, it is because he was left to believe his friend was dead — nothing more. He recognized her, and he was hurt she never told him. But there is no shame. She did what she had to for her survival and her freedom. Gracewood comes to this realization quickly after the shock of her survival wears off. It is very angsty, but the payoff is beautiful, resulting in one of my favorite scenes in the book.
Throughout the story, Viola goes on a journey to allow herself to be who she truly is. With the support of her family, we see her grow from being insecure to confident in herself and her love, as well as Gracewood’s love. Gracewood has a lot of unresolved trauma from the war that he finally addresses in order to be a better man for his sister, Miranda, Viola, and himself. The relationships with both of their families adds to the narrative’s warmth. I loved Lady Marleigh, Viola’s sister-in-law, for even if she is a busybody, she genuinely cares about Viola and her happiness. While some of the side plots with the family make the book feel slow at times, it also allows more time for us to see Viola and Gracewood fall deeper in love.
A Lady for a Duke by Alexis Hall is a beautiful love story full of acceptance, heart, and healing. Gracewood and Viola’s individual journeys are special, making their relationship that much more important. Alexis Hall’s writing crafts a profoundly memorable historical romance, landing itself on top shelves.
A Lady for a Duke by Alexis Hall is now available wherever books are sold.