'Not That Duke'...Although Well Written...Lacks The Power Of Surprise.

Title:  Not That Duke
Series:  Would-Be Wallflowers #3
Author:  Eloisa James
Format:  ERC
Length:  384 pages
Expected Date Of Publication:  July 25, 2023
Publisher:  Avon
Rating:  3.5 Stars

The Duke of Huntington has no interest in an eccentric redhead who frowns at him over her spectacles…until he realizes that she is the only possible duchess for him. A new enemies-to-lovers romance by New York Times bestselling author Eloisa James.

Bespeckled and freckled, Lady Stella Corsham at least has a dowry that has attracted a crowd of fortune-hunting suitors—which definitely doesn’t include the sinfully handsome Silvester Parnell, Duke of Huntington, who laughingly calls her “Specs” as he chases after elegant rivals.

And then—

The worst happens. Marriage.

To the duke. To a man marrying her for all the wrong reasons.

How can Silvester possibly convince Stella that he’s fallen in love with the quirky woman he married? Especially after she laughingly announces that she’s in love—but not with that duke.

Not with her husband.

Please enjoy the exclusive excerpt from:
Not That Duke.
February 20, 1816 12, Mayfair Place The Duke of Huntington’s townhouse “I’ve found your duchess.”Determination was stamped all over the dowager duchess’s face. “Lady Stella Corsham is perfect for you: the granddaughter of a marquess, with a sizable dowry. Able-bodied, well-bred, and original.”In an act of profound self-control, Silvester Parnell, Duke of Huntington, did not roll his eyes. Or otherwise indicate that in demanding her son marry a version of herself—a short, opinionated woman, albeit with spectacles rather than a monocle—his mother had lost her mind. “‘Original’is not a characteristic that interests me,”he said, instead. His mother’s eyes sharpened. “I suppose you are looking for a girlish nitwit who will entertain ladies for tea and never embarrass her children.”He pretended to think about it. “Does she have to be a nitwit?”“Yes,”the dowager snapped, adding: “Because you want her to swill tea all day long.”When his parents first married, rather than redecorate the ducal country house as did most new duchesses, Her Grace had redesigned the chimney on her husband’s first experimental steam engine. In the years since, she had delighted in flouting society with everything from her clothing (unconventional) to her entertainments (Julius Caesar performed by trained rats was a notable example). Silvester and his sisters had grown up with the full knowledge that “polite”society considered his mother—and by extension, her family—to be eccentric, if not mad. Once sent to Eton, where he routinely engaged in fisticuffs in his parents’defense, Silvester came to the conclusion that although he adored his mother, a less divisive duchess would be preferable. “Do you think I am unaware of how much you and your sisters wish that I would blend into the wallpaper like most of the noodling nobility?”she demanded now. “I am proud of your chimney,”Silvester said, meaning it. His mother’s clack box feed pipe for locomotives had survived four iterations of ducal steam engines and was still in use around the country. “Lady Stella—”Silvester interrupted. “Which doesn’t mean I want to marry Lady Stella.”To be clear, he didn’t mind Stella’s lack of height or her spectacles. Certainly he appreciated her rather glorious bosom. The eccentricity? That he minded. Rumor had it that she’d read the entire Encyclopedia, which explained the fact that their conversations were often startling. And interesting. He liked arguing with Stella; he just didn’t want to marry her. “Want to? Want to?”The dowager pounced like a robin on a worm. “What does want have to do with it? You need a duchess. Lady Stella is suitable.”“My fiancée will be of my choosing, Mother. I would like to be in love with my wife.”She snorted inelegantly. “Romance is a fool’s game, nothing to do with marriage. You’re making a laughingstock of yourself mooning about after Yasmin Régnier.”Fool he may be, but Silvester intended to marry Yasmin. She had charm, hair the color of old ducats, a naughty giggle  .  .  . More than that, he and Yasmin were friends, never mind the fact that he’d love to bed her. He felt the pull of her in his bones, deep in his gut. Perhaps even in his heart. “Moonblind.”The dowager waved her monocle at him. “Lady Yasmin is not for you.”His mother was small in stature, but she made up for it with gargantuan will power. “I intend to ask Yasmin to marry me,”Silvester told her. His mother replaced her monocle and eyed him. “You’d better open the Dower House. Lady Yasmin won’t want to live with me.”A full renovation of the master bedchamber and Dower House at the ducal estate, Huntington Grange, was already in progress. “You will come to love Yasmin,”he said, not at all sure, but it was worth a try. Her Grace snorted again. “Every Season, one woman attracts all the men like seagulls on a gutted fish.”“A lovely metaphor,”Silvester commented. “A lady who tolerates fools will make a dreadful wife.”“Why?”Silvester inquired, though he didn’t really care. “Because she tolerates fools,”his mother repeated. “She has no bollocks!”“No woman has bollocks, as they are male appendages,”Silvester said. “May I point out that Stella has as many suitors as Yasmin?”“Fortune hunters and third sons,”the dowager said contemptuously. “You’d be the only duke. My point is that Lady Stella braves ballrooms in spectacles, although society dictates that ladies should blunder blindly around the dance floor.”“An idiotic rule,”Silvester agreed. “Don’t you see?”his mother demanded. “You need to find a woman who has backbone, not just a woman at the center of a crowd.”His mother was a brilliant tactician. She delivered that line with just the right amount of scorn. If women were allowed to debate in the House of Lords, the opposition would wither. Luckily, he had a lifetime’s worth of experience thwarting her demands. “No,”Silvester stated. From the moment he entered Eton at the age of eight, he had carefully shaped a reputation for easy charm to counter his family’s reputation for eccentricity. That didn’t mean he hadn’t inherited his mother’s steely core. Or his father’s entitled ferocity. “I will never marry Lady Stella.”The best debaters know when to retreat. His mother bounded to her feet and headed for the drawing room door. “You won’t marry Lady Yasmin, either,”she said over her shoulder. He opened his mouth to retort—But she was gone.
My Thoughts
The smart, pudgy, shy, girl might get the guy in this read.  
But the question still remains.
Is he the right one?
You would think that would NOT be an issue.  Given the 'beggers can't be choosers' tone of her family and the people around her.
But choose she does.
The person she chooses is not leading man, Sylvester Parnell, Duke of Huntington.
She instead is carrying quite the bright torch for Giles Renwick, Earl of 
Giles has a thing for one Lady Yasmine Regnier!
But then, EVERY breathing male on two legs seems to have a thing for the beautiful, blonde, willowy, and very French, Lady Yasmin.

While it is true that things in this story would be a lot less complicated if someone had just bothered asking the lady who SHE WANTS.
This is one a Regency Romance.
So no chance of that.
On we go with the confusion and misunderstandings that make this story a story.  And leave readers shaking their heads and looking for the nearest exit.
Because even though Sylvester spends more and more time with Stella.
Is known to be longtime friends, and ONLY friends with Lady Yasmin.
And is doing everything but climb the walls and beat his chest in attention to Stella.
She is still consumed by the belief and fear that he is in love with Yasmin.
Ohhhh kayyy!

This is one of those reads that you want to enter into without having read the previous book.
In fact.
In order to really enjoy this series.
This reviewer suggests that you read the series last book first. 
The reason.
The ends of books #1and #2 give away the pairings of the books to follow.
Self spoilers ahoy!
And one of the major reasons for the 3.5 star rating.
That and the incessant misplaced whining about Yasmine by EVERYONE!

Much to the book's credit, however.
The character development and flair as seen in the devious Lady Lidiya.
The Sylvester's eccentric moth mother.
And even Stella's kitten 'specs'.
Not to mention Lisa James' Stella writing.

Reviewer's Note
Thank you to Netgalley and Avon for  providing the review copy on which this honest critique is based.
Not That Duke is part of a closely related series.  It may be read in any order.

About Eloisa
 New York Times bestselling author Eloisa James writes historical romances for HarperCollins Publishers. Her novels have been published to great acclaim. A reviewer from USA Today wrote of Eloisa's very first book that she "found herself devouring the book like a dieter with a Hershey bar"; later People Magazine raved that "romance writing does not get much better than this." Her novels have repeatedly received starred reviews from Publishers' Weekly and Library Journal and regularly appear on the best-seller lists.

After graduating from Harvard University, Eloisa got an M.Phil. from Oxford University, a Ph.D. from Yale and eventually became a Shakespeare professor, publishing an academic book with Oxford University Press. Currently she is an associate professor and head of the Creative Writing program at Fordham University in New York City. Her "double life" is a source of fascination to the media and her readers. In her professorial guise, she's written a New York Times op-ed defending romance, as well as articles published everywhere from women's magazines such as More to writers' journals such as the Romance Writers' Report.

Eloisa...on her double life:

When I'm not writing novels, I'm a Shakespeare professor. It's rather like having two lives. The other day I bought a delicious pink suit to tape a television segment on romance; I'll never wear that suit to teach in, nor even to give a paper at the Shakespeare Association of America conference. It's like being Superman, with power suits for both lives. Yet the literature professor in me certainly plays into my romances. The Taming of the Duke (April 2006) has obvious Shakespearean resonances, as do many of my novels. I often weave early modern poetry into my work; the same novel might contain bits of Catullus, Shakespeare and anonymous bawdy ballads from the 16th century.

When I rip off my power suit, whether it's academic or romantic, underneath is the rather tired, chocolate-stained sweatshirt of a mom. Just as I use Shakespeare in my romances, I almost always employ my experiences as a mother. When I wrote about a miscarriage in Midnight Pleasures, I used my own fears of premature birth; when the little girl in Fool For Love threw up and threw up, I described my own daughter, who had that unsavory habit for well over her first year of life.

So I'm a writer, a professor, a mother - and a wife. My husband Alessandro is Italian, born in Florence. We spend the lazy summer months with his mother and sister in Italy. It always strikes me as a huge irony that as a romance writer I find myself married to a knight, a cavaliere, as you say in Italian.

One more thing...I'm a friend. I have girlfriends who are writers and girlfriends who are Shakespeare professors. And I have girlfriends who are romance readers. In fact, we have something of a community going on my website. Please stop by and join the conversation on my readers' pages.