One Duke Down (Rogues to Lovers: Book 2) by Anna Bennett

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press, St. Martin’s Paperbacks

Date of publication: January 24th, 2023

Genre: Romance, Historical Romance, Historical, Historical Fiction, Regency Romance, Fiction, Mystery, Adult

Series: Rogues to Lovers

Girls Before Earls—Book 1 (review here)

One Duke Down—Book 2

Purchase Links: Kindle | Audible | B&N | AbeBooks | Alibris | Powells | IndieBound | Indigo | BetterWorldBooks

Goodreads Synopsis:

Miss Poppy Summers is determined to keep her family’s fishing business afloat. Her poor widowed father has fallen ill, and her foolhardy brother has moved to London, leaving her precious little time to read or pursue her own dreams. But she’ll do anything for her family, so she cheerfully spends mornings in her rowboat, casting her nets. The very last thing Poppy expects or wants to find tangled in them is a dangerously attractive man. Especially one with a head wound—who’s convinced he’s a duke.

Andrew Keane is the Duke of Hawking, but he’s having the devil of a time convincing his fiery-haired rescuer of that fact. The truth is he came to the seaside resort of Bellehaven Bay to escape his life in London. Unfortunately, someone in Bellehaven wants to kill him—and he intends to find out who. He implores Poppy to tend to his injuries and hide him on her beach, reasoning it will be easier to find his attacker if that man assumes Keane is already dead. She wants no part of the scheme but can’t refuse the generous sum he offers in exchange for food and shelter while he recovers. It’s a mutually beneficial business arrangement…nothing more.

Under Poppy’s care, Keane regains his strength—and a sense of purpose. As they work together to solve the puzzle of his would-be murderer, he’s dazzled by her rapier wit and adventurous spirit; she’s intrigued by his mysterious air and protective streak. Though Poppy’s past gives her every reason to mistrust someone like Keane, the seawalls around her heart crumble in the storm of their passion. But when clues hint at the prime suspect in Keane’s attempted murder, Poppy must decide where her loyalties lie. Torn between the world she’s always known and the one she’s always dreamed of, she’ll need true love for a shot at her fairytale ending.

First Line:

Miss Poppy Summers was accustomed to finding odd, unwanted objects tangled in her fishing nets: clumps of seawedd, discarded rum bottles, even the occasional clay pipe.

One Duke Down by Anna Bennett

I have said this before, but I love reading Regency romance. Something about that period (and yes, I am ignoring a bunch of negatives) makes the romance seem so swoon-worthy. So, when I got the widget from St. Martin’s Press, I immediately said yes. I am glad I did because this book was a great continuation of the Rogues to Lovers series.

There are trigger warnings in One Duke Down. I will be honest; I was surprised at how heavy this book was (with the triggers). The trigger warnings are Grief (Poppy, her brother, father, and aunt mourn the death of her mother), Classism (Dukes’ were not allowed to marry beneath their station, Poppy was a fisherwoman/Poppy’s mother married below her station, and was disinherited by her family), Alcoholism (Keane’s cousin was), Chronic Illness (Poppy’s father), Death (Poppy’s mother and Keane’s parents), Kidnapping (Keane), Death of a parent (Poppy’s mother, Keane’s parents), Pregnancy (Poppy’s mother was pregnant before marriage), Toxic Friendship (Keane and his cousin), Sexual Harassment (towards Poppy several times during the book), Attempted Murder (Keane, several times), Injury/Injury detail (Keane’s head wound, his attack on the roof, and his kidnapping that resulted in slight injury), and Child Abuse (not in detail but Keane). If any of these trigger you, I recommend not reading the book.

One Duke Down is the second book in the Rogues to Lovers series. This book can be read as a standalone.

One Duke Down is a medium-paced book that mostly takes place in the village of Bellehaven Bay. There are a couple of chapters, towards the end, that takes place in London, mainly at Keane’s townhouse.

One Duke Down takes place a year after the events of Girls Before Earls. This book centers around Poppy, a secondary character in Girls Before Earls, and Andrew Keane, the Duke of Hawkings, a new character. Poppy is working as a fisherwoman to support her ill father when she stumbles upon Keane on the beach. Having never seen him before, Poppy is skeptical that Keane is a Duke but realizes something terrible has happened to him and decides to help him. When his claims are verified, Poppy becomes embroiled in his plan to find out who attacked him and why. As they get closer to the truth, the more Keane’s life is in danger. And the more their feelings grow toward each other. But there are roadblocks, the main one being her station in Society. Who wants to kill Keane? Why? Will Keane and Poppy end up together? Or will they be forced apart?

The characters in One Duke Down surprised me while reading this book. The author gave Poppy an exciting backstory. It was hinted at in Girls Before Earls, so I wasn’t surprised at what was revealed. But it was Keane’s story that caught my attention. He came into the book as a mysterious character, and the author fully fleshed out his character. He was nothing like what I thought a Duke would be like.

  • Poppy—I thought she was terrific in Girls Before Earls. She bucked convention (and what society expected from her). She worked hard to provide for her family. I liked that she had a healthy skepticism regarding men claiming to be Duke. I also liked that once she was all in, she was all in. But what I liked the most was that she came across as genuine. She had insecurities and wasn’t afraid to let Keane know about them.
  • Keane— As I mentioned above, Keane was nothing that I thought a Duke would be like. He was caring, and he cared more about his family/friends than he did about power. His abusive parents had much to do with that, as did his uncle (the only family member who cared about him). But I did think he was a pushover at points in the book. Listen, I get not wanting to hurt the only family member who cares about you, but still. How many times will things happen before you end up dead? In the end, though, he did what I perceived was right and fair.

The secondary characters were interesting in One Duke Down. I liked that they did fill out certain aspects of the storyline and explained certain things that Keane did.

One Duke Down fits perfectly into the romance genre. Even though it was unconventional, I loved reading Poppy and Keane’s romance. Dukes do not get involved with ordinary people, and they certainly did not fall in love/marry them. It was very refreshing to read, and I loved Keane’s attitude toward it. It was basically, “If you don’t like it, then shut up.

There was also a mystery angle interwoven with the romance angle. I will say that I was surprised at who Keane’s attacker was. But I was even more surprised at who orchestrated it. I loved the investigation. I laughed at how they tried to figure out who attacked Keane and who was behind it.

The main storyline, Poppy and Keane’s romance with the mystery of who injured him, took me for a ride. I genuinely didn’t know where this book would take me next. I just sat there and enjoyed it. Of course, I liked seeing past characters show up in their storyline. I also was trying to figure out who the next book was going to be about (usually, a hint or two is dropped at the end). I think Kitty, but not sure.

The author used several secondary storylines to flesh out Poppy and Keane’s storyline. There was only one that I didn’t care for. That was the storyline with Poppy’s aunt. I didn’t believe for a minute that she had a change of heart from 9-10 years previously. But it did add an extra “aww” factor to the book.

The end of One Duke Down was full of excitement. Because of spoilers, I won’t go into it, but I do think that the villain should have gotten more of a punishment. But then again, being sent to The Colonies was a sentence, so maybe it was. I also loved that Poppy and Keane got their HEA. After everything they went through in this book, they deserved it.

I recommend One Duke Down to anyone over 21. There are moderate sex scenes, mild language, and moderate violence. Also, see my trigger warnings.

I want to thank St. Martin’s Press, St. Martin’s Paperbacks, NetGalley, and Anna Bennett for allowing me to read and review One Duke Down. All opinions stated in this review are mine.

If you enjoyed reading One Duke Down, then you will enjoy reading these books:

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