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Khanh the Killjoy

A Duchess to Remember

A Duchess to Remember - Christina Brooke Actual rating: 1.5It brings me no joy to say that the most memorable thing about A Duchess to Remember is the title. I don't really feel like writing tonight, to be honest, but I have to force myself to review this book tonight, because I won't remember anything about it tomorrow.This book is boring. It is a yawn-fest. It is completely and utterly unoriginal, so on and so forth. In the interest of fairness, technically, everything has already been done before. There's no such thing as originality. Regency HR plots are regurgitated and disassembled. That's a given. What makes a recycled plot tolerable, good, even brilliant, is the author's skill in rewriting an old plot that makes it seem anew. Sadly, this is not the case here. The writing is passable at best, the characters and their various quirks were utterly lacking in originality, lacking in spark, lacking in life.If this book was intended to be a masterpiece, like, say, the Mona Lisa, it didn't work. It is a photograph of a photograph of a photograph of the Mona Lisa, rescanned, reprinted, rescanned again, and resized for posterity in Photoshop, and saved in a lower quality for space-saving purposes, until what's left is a pixelated shell of the original that's barely worth the 0.7 seconds you take to glance at it.Enough with the ranting and overwrought similes (you can probably tell I've had a few drinks tonight), and back to the book. Well, what there is of it. Which isn't much.The good: It's not terrible, I didn't hate anyone. I didn't want to punch anyone in the face.The bad: The characters are so dull, that I couldn't muster up the bother to want to punch anyone in the face, villain or not. None of the characters evoked any sort of emotion in me whatsoever. The "mystery" barely holds water. The plot has so many holes that it could be used in Hades as a sieve through which the eternally punished are forced to transport water. Even the subplot involving Tibbs, the lady's companion, was easily foreseen; I knew where that plot was going the first moment she was mentioned in the book. There were zero subtlety. None. The writing, the characters, the attempts at building character, the plot: all recycled to the extreme.I use the word "recycle" as a kindness. There's nothing salvageable here.So we have the heroine. The brilliant heroine who is determined never to love. Ever. She doesn't exactly show just how brilliant she is, but she could. If given half the chance. Which she wasn't. But she is. Don't question it. Be like Nike. Just do it. Just accept that she's smart, despite her complete lack of rationality and reasoning. Apparently, unsuccessfully sneaking around looking for some (mildly) questionable letters is the equivalent of book smarts in Regency England?Enter sad childhood, check. She is dealt some pretty low blows by life. She is left an orphan, then at the age of 10, her beloved older brother dies, leaving her to the mercy of some unscrupulous relatives. Luckily, she is rescued and brought into the care of the Duke of Montford. Actually, no, it's not that bad. She's still a lady. She still has a lot of money. She made some wonderful friends who were fellow wards of the Duke of Montford; Cecily loves them. They do not replace the family she has lost, but they become a type of family, just the same. Cecily became, and still is under the care of a stern, but very caring and competent Duke who is undoubtedly watching out for her best interest, despite Cecily's stubbornness in deciding to marry her nincompoop of a dullard of a Duke. Make no mistakes, the Duke of Norland is dull."'Diffident?' [Cecily] said. 'Persuadable? Teeth-achingly dull?''Well...yes!' said Rosamund in an uncharacteristic burst of candor. 'He is like, oh, like a lump of clay. You could mold him into any shape you chose.'Cecily nodded. 'You are right. It’s what makes him such a perfect husband for me.'"Here's where she fails in getting my sympathy. That is no reason to make a marriage. That is manipulative. Resigning yourself to marriage because you have no other choice is one thing. She is planning to manipulate the poor man before they even marry. She is mercenary. She wants to be a duchess. Cecily knows the power that her future title will wield. She is marrying upwards so that she can be untouchable. Oh, I don't like the boring old Duke of Norland at all, trust me, but she is using the poor man, and cheating on him behind his back with a man to whom she is undoubtedly physically attracted.Lord Griffin is a rake (aren't they all?), but not a terrible one. He admits his desire, his feelings towards Cecily, and pursue her with zeal. She's not so easily won. Cecily is so damnably frustrating, because her fear of love, her insecurities of surrendering her heart seems utterly without reason. The way I see it, the only true hardship she has suffered is the loss of her family, and although that is explained, there is never enough character development nor reason enough for her to be so utterly afraid of love and attachment. Her character is contrary and difficult without just cause. Oh, her conflict is written in very pretty prose:"Yes, she'd been making excuses. She'd never intended to give Rand a chance.Other girls fell in love with reckless abandon. They bandied that word about at the smallest provocation, flung their hearts after men who scarcely noticed them or remembered their names. The poets made falling in love look so easy.But it wasn't easy for her. Rand was right. To love someone---really love them---took an enormous amount of courage."Her internal dialogue is really poetic and lovely, but where's the justification? I just didn't buy into Cecily's emotions, reasoning, and state of mind at all. The mystery is barely there, the incriminating stack of letters for which she so earnestly searches is a joke. If the mystery is the glue that holds the book together, then said glue is the consistency of the paste I made out of white flour and a water as a kid. You could blow it into bits with a deep breath.Bottom line: don't waste your money. If you feel a need for some bedtime reading that's more effective than counting sheeps, borrow a copy at your library, but this book isn't worth owning. It's barely worth the few hundred kilobytes it occupies on my Nook.