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Sep 10 2017 11:00am

First Look: The Duke’s Bridle Path Anthology (September 12, 2017)

The Duke's Bridle Path by Grace Burrowes and Theresa Romain

Grace Burrowes and Theresa Romain
The Duke's Bridle Path
Grace Burrowes / September 12, 2017 / $3.99 digital

The Duke's Bridle Path by Grace Burrowes and Theresa Romain, is billed as a “duet,” which I find to be an entirely charming descriptor. The more I think about it, it’s also an entirely accurate descriptor. These two authors have written stories that, well, work in harmony with each other.

This duet pairs two writers who have similar, but markedly different voices. (All hail “The Boy is Mine” by Monica and Brandy.) Both write historical romances featuring emotionally intelligent characters and, often, the forces conspiring against them are external. In these two stories, Burrowes and Romain each pair off one of set of siblings, a duke and his sister, and use a different trope to do so. It works brilliantly. With common threads of family, history, and location, readers don’t have to disengage and reengage with the story. Rather, we are seamlessly shifting our attention to Ada (that’s the sister) while her brother (the duke) is off on honeymoon with his new bride.

In His Grace for the Win, Philippe returns to his ducal estate for some R&R, only to realize that his lifelong friend, Harriet, is working herself to death trying to keep the family horse farm going. If you like horses, you’ll like this story. (I don’t much care for horses, but still enjoyed it.) Philippe needs to quite literally get back on the horse, following several years of avoiding equestrian activities due to his brother’s riding-related death. Harriet needs to marry, as her father is ill and she won’t be able to manage the horse farm on her own. Harriet is certainly capable, it’s just that England in the 19th century didn’t consider women to be legal entities. What follows is a tale of two friends becoming lovers, despite their certainty that it’s not possible for them to be together. Duke and horse-trainer and all that. Burrowes excels at carefully building emotional entanglements, utilizing secondary characters to subtly push the two protagonists together. Burrowes’ emotional character development is so painstakingly crafted that I suspect that Philippe may be demisexual.

“This is part of being lovers, Harriet. The newness and adventure. Courage and trust come into it, or they should.”

Perhaps this was why Philippe had given up on mistresses, affairs, and flings. Without courage and trust, the encounter was no more interesting than what went on in the breeding shed of any stable.

Desperately Seeking Scandal is a twist on the fake-dating trope, with a gossip reporter showing up to woo secrets out of the scandalously married duke’s sister, Ada. This is romance, so you knew the duke would marry the horse trainer, which naturally sends tongues wagging. Romain’s story is more humorous than the first, with Ada harassing the reporter by making him wear her brother’s old ill-fitting clothes to a proper dinner, ride a horse though he’s not done so, and other such mischief. Colin, the reporter, is trying to work his way up from freelance to editor, which means he is both determined and unflappable. I loved him, even when I was disappointed in him. The relationship he has with his neuroatypical brother is honest and real, and he seems to grow as a person as he gets to know Ada and realizes the damage his stories have done. And the banter, the BANTER.

“How unbending and obstinate you are. I’m not sure why I’m besotted with you.”

Her brows shot up. “Perhaps you recognize your own qualities in me.”

Despite himself, he chuckled. He enjoyed every minute with her. Every spar and parry.

True to the title, both stories make use of an old legend that says that the first person you kiss on the bridle path during a full moon is your true love. Lucky for these two couples, they find love AND their happily-ever-afters on the bridle path. Any good duet has a common melody, contrasting voices, and a pleasing harmony. This one won’t let you down. 

***

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When not reading All of the Things, Suzanne is raising two small valkyries and trying to open a bookstore. Book, comic, and assorted other tweets at @cerestheories.

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2 comments
Kareni
1. Kareni
Thanks for the enthusiastic review, Suzanne! This does sound wonderful.
lauralee1912
2. lauralee1912
I am so looking forward to reading this book. Two of my favorite authors and both are capable writers about all things equestrian.
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