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Lady Wesley's Salon

Historical romance.

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The Duke's Tattoo (Horsemen of the Apocalypse, #1) - Miranda Davis For the longest time, I've been meaning to change my review to a unqualified FIVE PLUS STARS!

READ THIS BOOK! It's a great bargain, at only $2.99 on Amazon.

This first-time author read my (and others') reviews on Amazon and rewrote parts, addressing all of the little things that I complained about. It is now just about perfect, and it gives me great joy to see that so many others on Goodreads have enjoyed it. And don't forget to add [b:The Baron's Betrothal: An On-Again, Off-Again, On-Again Regency Romance|15720604|The Baron's Betrothal An On-Again, Off-Again, On-Again Regency Romance (Horsemen of the Apocalypse #2)|Miranda Davis|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1340563415s/15720604.jpg|21393409], coming in 2013, to your TBR list.

Original Review from 12 June 2012:

I happened across this book when one of my GR friends added it as a “to read.” It’s a cheap ($2.99), self-published Amazon Kindle book, and it sounded intriguing. But what really convinced me to read it was looking at the reviews on Amazon (4.6/5 stars). This first-time author has taken the trouble to respond to several of the reviews, thanking the reviewers (gasp!), and agreeing with some of their criticisms (gasp! gasp!). What a refreshing contrast to some other authors whose well-publicized, shameful attack on GR reviewers has been much discussed of late.

Well, Miranda Davis has written a very good book here. I commend her for wanting to make it even better, and it’s in that spirit that I offer this review. First of all, she’s come up with an original enemies-to-friends/revenge plot. Jeremy (“Jem”) Maubrey, tenth Duke of Ainsworth, finds himself kidnapped, drugged, and left with a tattoo in a most personal and private place. And he has no idea why. Eventually, he traces the cause of his misfortune to a female apothecary in Bath, Miss Prudence Haversham. Setting his man of business to work, he buys her shop and her home, intending to turn her out into the streets with nothing. But first, he travels to Bath to witness her comeuppance.

Prudence is horrified to learn that her revenge has been carried out on the wrong duke; her actual target was the now-deceased ninth duke, Jem’s brother. Ten years earlier, he had attempted to debauch her, causing her odious brother to turn her out of the house in disgrace. Ever since, she has lived quietly in Bath and become a successful and well-respected apothecary. The duke likes her and comes to regret his plans for revenge. Eventually, he realizes that he’s fallen in love with her, but misunderstandings complicate their path to a happy ending.

What I Liked
• As mentioned, the plot is original and lively. Things move along briskly, and we get both the hero’s and heroine’s perspectives.
• Jem is a delicious hero – handsome, gallant, and a bit embarrassed by the notoriety of being one of the group known as the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.
• The other three horsemen are worked into the story quite well. Some authors tend to litter their stories with sequel-fodder, but this author did an excellent job of making them part of this story. It’s actually quite funny when they dash off to Bath to “rescue” Jem from the clutches of this conniving nobody.
• Prudence is an engaging bluestocking spinster heroine – smart, witty, industrious, and not inclined to dwell on the misfortune that brought her to Bath. (Her revenge on the duke had been nothing more than a silly dream until her devoted servants took matters into their own hands.)
• There are several well-drawn secondary characters, in addition to the Four Horsemen: the duke’s war-scarred butler and valet, Prudence’s servants, her friend Lady Abingdon, even the duke’s pack of rescued mongrels (one of which plays an important role in reuniting the couple).
• The dialogue is sprightly and fairly true to the period. I was not distracted by anachronisms, although there may have been some.
• I very much enjoyed the chapter titles – for example, “Chapter 10: In which our hero sallies forth while our heroine beats a hasty retreat.”
• The epilogue, where we finally learn what the tattoo looks like, was quite funny.

What I Didn’t Like
• There’s really only one major thing to criticize here, and it’s something the author is already addressing. The last third or so of the book revolves around the Big Misunderstanding, brought about largely because of Jem’s inability to discuss his feelings but also by Prudence’s reticence. In fact, there’s a great chapter title: “In which there is an unfortunate case of ‘he said she heard.’” This goes on too long, however, and the story really bogs down. Jem leaves Bath and plans the “perfect proposal,” but he procrastinates for reasons not clear to me and leaves Prudence in despair.
• Prudence’s brother, Sir Oswald Dabney, and his wife are what passes for villains in this story, but they are so thinly sketched as to be unbelievable. Why did Sir Oswald turn on his sister so viciously after her encounter with the ninth duke? Why did he so casually sell her out of house and home? Did he hate her? Was he merely greedy? Perhaps he was just the pawn of his grasping, jealous wife? And when Jem asks for her hand in marriage, why would he even hesitate? I would have expected him to be thrilled at the prospect of such a close connection with a powerful duke, no matter how the marriage came about.

What Bugged Me
• Sir Oswald Dabney is a baronet; therefore, he should be referred to as “Sir Oswald,” never “Sir Dabney.” His wife is “Lady Dabney.” For some reason this American is a stickler for proper usage of titles. I mean, if an author is going to write historicals set in England, the names should be correct. Wikipedia explains it all quite nicely.
• Some grammar nits: “affect” rather then “effect;” “just desserts” rather than “just deserts;” “discrete” rather than “discreet.”
• “Nymph.” Sixty-three times.
• Lady Jane Babcock. She sort of comes out of nowhere, makes a little mischief, and disappears. Why did she think Jem was even interested in her?

I give the first two-thirds or so of this book an unqualified five stars, but the final third disappoints. Although the book is not technically considered a work-in-progress, the author has stated that she’s rewriting parts of it and will post a new version (free) on Amazon. Her gracious, even eager, acceptance of readers’ suggestions, as well as her undoubted talent, prompt me to give The Duke’s Tattoo: A Regency Romance of Love and Revenge Though Not in That Order an enthusiastic four stars! Definitely recommended.