When You Give a Duke a Diamond by Shana Galen

I would love to start a proofreading/editing service for historical romance novelists. I’d hold the author’s hand and say things like, “It’s not really appropriate for the hero and heroine to get randy in the home of his recently deceased fiancée, especially as they are searching said home for clues as to her violent demise. It may come across as insensitive.”

When You Give a Duke a Diamond was like the movie The Return of the King: It had several endings starting about 70% of the way through, and then somehow managed to keep going via deus ex machinations and unnecessary complications. Also, that title is truly appalling.

The Plot: Will is an uptight Duke. Juliette is a famous courtesan. Something with murder and spies.

In addition to wanting to offer my services as an editor, I often read these books thinking an author has potential. Then I look her up on Amazon, discover she has published many novels, in this case eleven, and realise that this is as good as it’s going to get.  Since Shana Galen is not paying me to be nice about it, here is what is wrong with this book:

  • It is a little too busy establishing its subplots.
  • There are too many subplots.
  • Will is “tired of fighting it”? It’s been, like, 37 hours.
  • Everyone is crazy beautiful.
  • The aforementioned excess of endings.
  • It needs more banter.
  • No one gets back and forth between London and Yorkshire that easily by carriage. This time would be well spent having Will and Juliette get to know each other (in the non-biblical sense).
  • Any romance that includes “Prinny” is instantly on notice. This is, admittedly, a personal issue.

Here is what is right with this book:

  • The moments of tenderness are actually rather sweet.
  • The eruptions of violence are shocking and frightening.
  • There are some really fun touches of humour.
  • The hero must accept the heroine’s past as in no way indicative of her value, or morality, as a human being before his suit is even considered.
  • A particularly harrowing and thrilling triumph over one of the villains, even if his presence was deus ex machinations.

I might read more by Shana Galen, if the price is right: $1.99 or less/free from the library.


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