Betting on a Duke’s Heart

Cover art for Betting on a Duke's Heart by Royaline Sing

Betting on a Duke’s Heart by Royaline Sing
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

3.5 Stars

Betting on a Duke’s heart felt like an homage to older historical romances, in some ways for the better and in some ways for the worse. (I wouldn’t go so far as to say it was reminiscent of old skool romance, though at one point I did put in my notes “Fuck him. He doesn’t deserve a happily ever after,” because he was being a giant, ducal ASSHOLE. Which is, generally, how I feel about old skool heroes.)

I really liked Dina; she was fiercely loyal to her friends, had an amazing vocation she was passionate about, and she never once questioned her own worth. I loved that she embraced both sides of her heritage so wholly, both Indian and English, and never tried to drown out one or the other. Dina was proud of who she was and where she’d come from, and I love that we get to see more of that representation, written by a South Asian woman, in a time and place that has been painted all too white by history.

I liked Aetius too, when he wasn’t be an emotionally stunted a-hole. The truth is, Aeitus wanted love and companionship too much, but is terrified of getting hurt and doesn’t handle it well. Half the time I wanted to hug him and the other half I wanted to slap him. The banter between Dina and Aetius was very entertaining (though there were a few times I got a little lost over who was saying what) and there were definitely a few intimate moments that were…surprising. In a very good way. 😏

I think in the end, the biggest issue was that the story tried to do too much. So much of the main conflict is internal–Aetius has serious abandonment issues and Dina keeps secrets from him because she thinks he won’t accept her if he knows them. Then there’s an external conflict thrown in there about half way, and it really wasn’t necessary. It didn’t do anything for the story. There were also aspects of each character that got a bit repetitive, as if the same interactions and conversations were happening over and over again. Overall, I think another round with an editor would have made a world of difference and helped in places where the story felt a little plot-heavy or disjointed.

Despite these negatives, by about 70% of the way through, I was completely invested in discovering how Aetius was going get out of the hole he’d dug himself into and provide Dina with the happily ever after she deserved. The ending was very satisfying, and yes, I forgave Aetius for being a complete and utter tool. Overall, Betting on a Duke’s Heart is an impressive debut, and I look forward to seeing more from Royaline!

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

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