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Audiobook ARC Review: Once Upon a Duke by Erica Ridley

Once Upon a Duke (12 Dukes of Christmas, #1)

Audiobook Publishing Date: November 16, 2021

Synopsis:

Due to the terms of an estranged relative’s will, the Duke of Silkridge must revisit the cold, unforgiving mountains where he lost everything he once loved. As soon as he rights his family legacy, he’ll return to London where he belongs. He definitely won’t rekindle the forbidden spark crackling between him and the irresistible spitfire he’d left behind…

Noelle Pratchett is immune to charming rakehells like the arrogant duke. He stole her heart, stole her first kiss, and then stole away one night never to return. Now he’s back—and so are all the old feelings. Noelle knows he won’t stay. But how can she maintain her icy shields when every heated glance melts her to her core?

My Review:

Rating: 4 out of 5.

I’ve read (and loved) several of the newer books in the 12 Dukes of Christmas series recently, so I jumped at the chance to review an audio version of the first, which I hadn’t yet read. As might be expected, I found it slightly lacking compared to later installments, but it was still very enjoyable.

The town of Cressmouth / Christmas is charming and the inhabitants varied and interesting. I find that one of Erica Ridley’s greatest strengths is creating well-rounded and interesting characters, whether they be the stars of the show or just bit players. With that said, Benjamin and Noelle were a bit less fleshed out than some of her more recent heroes and heroines, and that limited my enjoyment of the story somewhat as I was not able to be as invested in them or their love story.

The plot was good if a bit repetitive, and Benjamin’s reasons for being unable to love Noelle (or anyone) were a bit thin and he held onto them a bit too long. There were some really lovely moments however – like when Benjamin was caring for Tiny Tim – that redeemed him for me and made him more interesting.

The audiobook narration was good. The narrator wasn’t my favorite, and I wasn’t sure about her voice at first, but as the story progressed she grew on me. She did a good job with the different character voices and with portraying their emotions. Once I got used to her, it was a very enjoyable listening experience.

*Thanks to NetGalley and Orange Sky Audio for providing an audio arc for review.

ARC Review: Forever Your Duke by Erica Ridley

Rating: 5 out of 5.

I heartily enjoyed this final? installment in the 12 Dukes of Christmas series. As usual, Erica’s characters jump off the page and seem vividly, vitally real. The romance was swoony and felt natural and inevitable.

Cynthia Louise has cast off the rules of society and embraces rule-breaking. The Duke of Nottingvale follows every rule as if his life depends on it. Of course, sparks fly and they can’t seem to stay away from each other. Despite the obvious mismatch in outlook, they’re both genuine and kind, and bring out the best in each other. My favorite kind of romance.

Erica Ridley has become a new favorite author, and I eagerly look forward to catching up on her backlist and reading whatever she writes next.

*Thanks to NetGalley and WebMotion fro providing an e-arc to review.

ARC Review: Ten Days with a Duke by Erica Ridley

Rating: 5 out of 5.

I really enjoyed this! I thought I loved the previous two 12 Dukes of Christmas books but nope, this one’s my favorite. Where Erica Ridley shines is creating characters that are interesting and unique and that grab you from the first page and make you root for them. Olive and Eli and their fathers were so real and vivid and leapt off the page. They were believable and sympathetic and I was rooting for them the whole time.

I love everything about this novel. I love how competent Olive is and how she knows her worth (as far as running a horse farm is concerned). I love how Eli dreads horses and wants nothing but to be left alone to study botany and discover cures for childbed fever. I love how they’re drawn to one another despite being sworn enemies. I even love their fathers’ feuding and manipulations.

All of it was grand and made for an extremely satisfying romance. Five enthusiastic stars from me!

*Thanks to Erica Ridley, NetGalley, and WebMotion for providing an e-arc to review.