Book Review: How to Deceive a Duke by Samara Parish

About the Book:

Title: How to Deceive a Duke

Author: Samara Parish

Series: Rebels With a Cause

Page Length: 368

Publication Date: Jan. 25, 2022

Publisher: Forever Pub.

Synopsis: Fiona McTavish is an engineer, a chemist, a rebel—and no one’s idea of a proper lady. She prefers breeches to ballrooms, but her new invention—matches—will surely turn as many heads. There’s just a little matter of her being arrested for a crime she didn’t commit. And the only person she can turn to for help is the man who broke her heart years ago.

Edward Stirling, Duke of Wildeforde, will do anything to restore his family’s name and put his father’s scandalous death behind them. But when Fiona needs his help getting released from prison, he can’t deny her—even though it means she must live with him as a condition of her freedom. With the desire between them rekindling as fast as the gossip about their arrangement is spreading among the ton, Edward will have to choose what matters most to him—his reputation or his heart.

LINKS:   Goodreads   |    Amazon

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My Review:

How to Deceive a Duke is the second book in Samara Parish’s Rebel With a Cause historical romance series. I really enjoyed How to Survive a Scandal, the first book in the series, and was so excited to receive an advanced copy of this book. It’s a wonderful, angst-filled second-chance romance with layered and compelling characters and thought-provoking messages.

I love Fiona! She is intelligent and adventurous and so determined. She’s also very headstrong, even when it’s to her own detriment or could potentially hurt others or herself. This gets her into many sticky situations. Edward is a great character too. He devotes his life to his family’s reputation, and he takes his role as duke very seriously, often putting his responsibilities ahead of his desires. Edward is stubborn, and though his heart is in the right place, he makes decisions without consulting those affected, which comes across as bossy and domineering, especially to his siblings. He thinks he knows best and tries to protect those he cares for, and I think his well-meaning actions and reserved demeanor are very misunderstood. However, he is also reticent to reveal his true feelings and emotions, which makes it difficult to truly know the whole man. The only one who has is Fiona. She sees the man she once knew and the man Edward now is, and even for her, it takes time to see all of Edward’s layers.

Fiona and Edward are both so staunch in their beliefs and feelings about life and each other.  Yet, the more time they spend together, the more they begin to see the other’s points of view.  He realizes the world isn’t as black and white as he always thought, and she sees his diplomacy and less assuming ways of obtaining similar goals as her. And their relationship is filled with so much swoon-worthy angst! This is a couple that wants to be together, but they know too much stands in their way. Social expectations, family obligations, her desire to be independent, and her lack of desire to be a duchess, and his fears keep them from committing to each other. They are opposites in many ways, and I love how she shakes up his life and brings some happiness into his world. They have such great chemistry, and I think part of it is because she’s the only person that doesn’t immediately listen to and obey him.  She does what she wants regardless of the fact that he’s a duke and she is a commoner and a woman, even going as far as posing as a man to get what she wants. And I love how Edward follows along with some of her ruse. Theirs is an interesting dynamic, and Fiona continually challenges the social norms forced upon her.  She calls Edward out on his hypocrisy and the hypocrisy of the social elite. I also like that she makes him more aware of the inequity of these norms and how they affect her, and other women’s, livelihood, chance of independence, and voice.   

Charlotte and William, Edward’s siblings, are fantastic additions to the story, and I’m eager to see more of them in future books in the series. I believe the next book focuses on Charlotte, and I can’t wait. Like Fiona and Edward, Charlotte is layered and complex, and I love her dynamic personality, optimism, and effervescence. William is a prankster and a bit immature, but he is also fiercely loyal. As much as Edward shows Fiona what love is, Charlotte and William show her what family is, and this is something that has been lacking in her life. They make her feel like she belongs, and they bring her into their fold both as Finley and as Fiona. Their unequivocal acceptance touches Fiona deeply, and I love the powerful bond they forge.

The plot revolves around Fiona trying to get backing for her invention, which leads to some frustrating, disheartening, and sometimes dangerous situations. Edward, his siblings, and Fiona’s business partners support Fiona’s endeavors. However, when she attempts to gain a patent and get backing, she is constantly refused, discouraged, questioned, or not even considered because of her gender. The messages about sexism are really strong and poignant. Though she is brilliant, she is often discredited because she is a woman.  It makes you think about all of their women with vast potential who were silenced before they were even able to show the world their capabilities. I love that Fiona forges her own path, rejects tradition and societal norms, and fights to be treated as an equal regardless of her gender, social expectations, and prejudices.

Messages about the inequitable treatment of people depending on their social status are also explored, as are themes of prejudice, revolution, and being true to yourself regardless of what others think. These themes are especially prevalent as Fiona is arrested, imprisoned, and suspected of a crime she didn’t commit. It’s also quite noticeable when introduced to some of the spiteful and elite antagonists of the story. I found all of the themes really thought-provoking and insightful and felt they added a lot of depth to the story.

I enjoyed this addition to the Rebels With a Cause series. The characters are fantastic, the messages are strong, and the romance is angsty and filled with yearning. Plus, the main character is a female inventor with an affinity for science! Though it’s the first book in the series, it can easily be read as a standalone, and I would definitely recommend it to readers of historical romance. Special thanks to Forever Publishing, NetGalley, and the author for providing me with a copy of the book. All thoughts are my own.


Favorite Parts:

  • The romance!
  • The strong messages.
  • The found family.

Favorite Lines:

A fish out of water dies gasping.

His sense of right and wrong had always been his guiding star and now it led him in opposite directions.


Want to learn more about the series? Check out my review of the first book!

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