Primrose and the Dreadful Duke
I've been eagerly waiting for the sequel to Emily Larkin's Baleful Godmother series. "Primrose and the Dreadful Duke" is the first in the Garland Cousins series and I'm happy to say it was a delightful read mostly because I adored our hero and our heroine, Oliver and Primrose. Of course, I do love Emily's writing style, so all in all, this was a great initiation to the new series!
Though "Primrose and the Dreadful Duke" can be read as a standalone, it all began in the Baleful Godmother series and its 4 prequels titled the Fey Quartet. The prequels are set in the ancient times when magic seemed real and Fae roamed the earth. It tells you why a family of females was gifted with special powers by a cold and scary-looking Fae named Baletongue. The Miller Family came first, with Widow Miller and her 3 daughters Hazel, Ivy and Larkspur. Then the female descendants of their families were gifted by Baletongue with a special power, what you can also call a 'super power' of their choice.
The Garland Cousins are another set of descendants of Widow Miller. I don't remember if Primrose was ever mentioned in any of the Baleful Godmother installments before but that didn't matter in the end. The story flowed just fine and I enjoyed it being in the moment with her and Oliver.
Primrose Garland AKA Prim is the eldest daughter of the Duke of Sevenash. Though Prim didn't lack for anything that may hinder a girl's marriage prospective, at 27 she was fast becoming a dedicated spinster. Prim loved reading, especially books written by Marcus Aurelius. What she didn't think she'd ever find was a man who was as intelligent, passionate and as considerate of his wife's penchant for being intelligent. Prim thought she'd live out her life as the aunt coddling her 3 nieces and nephews from her older brother Rhodes. Rhodes is the heir to the Dukedom but his family has been very worried ever since his wife died but had no idea how to help him. Prim also has 2 other sisters, Violet and Aster, all 3 of them already inheriting their 'gifts'.
When Oliver Dasenby, the newly minted Duke of Westfell, returned home from India, Prim felt nothing but relief. Termed as 'Daisy Dasenby' by Prim when they were young, Oliver is Rhodes's best friend. Hence he'd also known Prim for a long time and never missed an opportunity to irritate Prim by his ridiculous dramatics, hence the name Daisy! Despite finding him annoying Prim deeply felt his absence when he joined the army and left for India. Over the years she'd missed him much, something she didn't acknowledge until the news of his death reached them. Prim didn't think the news would strike her the way it did; that a person full of so much joie de vivre, was dead! It was utterly unthinkable!!
Then the news of him being alive reached and Prim felt a sense of relief that she'd never felt before. And she'd gone to receive Oliver to welcome him home. Out of the ship and Prim knew Oliver may have changed outwardly, he was still the Daisy Dasenby that made her laugh, because the first thing he did was to cast his dubious charm on her once more with some hyperbolic accolade to her beauty. Would this nutcase ever change? More precisely, would Prim ever want him change?
Oliver had been dazzled by Prim's beauty and his accolade, however hyperbolic, was genuine. He'd liked Prim when she was young, and he'd found that Prim is even more likable now that she's grown up to be an intelligent young woman. Oliver was smitten. Though he didn't think of it much in the beginning, he still kept on teasing Prim with his usual bit of shenanigans, calling her 'Prickly Prim' because of the way she'd look at him. He loved when she called him 'The Duke of Westfool'. Only she and she would call Oliver that disregarding his newly elevated status in life.
In London Oliver was trying to settle into the new life as a duke and catching up. Of course, his first stop was the Sevenash House to visit Rhodes. Oliver was aware of the tragedy that had befallen his best friend and tries his best to bring him out of his shell. Prim was ever so grateful to Oliver for helping him. While at it, and attending balls, Oliver also finds out rather astonishingly that someone is trying to murder him! This certainly put a new twist in his happy return to London. He was aware that everyone knew the Dukes of Westfell to be the meanest bunch out there, and they may have had any number of enemies but why him? He'd just assumed his title and definitely wasn't one of them in that sense! He didn't even like his uncle and cousins and didn't mourn when they died, even if it made him the Duke!
Though Oliver tried to dismiss the first attempt as nothing but accident, after the next attempt made on his life he was certain it's something he can't ignore any longer. So he confides in Rhodes. Later Prim comes to hear of it as well. The three then discuss the possibilities and hatch a plan to catch the murderer in action at a house party which they were to attend in a few days. The rest of the story takes place in the house party investigating the murder attempts on Oliver and I absolutely loved Prim and Oliver's budding romance! Both had already figured out that behind all the poking and prodding and all the silly banters, there was something going on. So while chasing a murderer, Prim and Oliver find that they very much would like to catch up on that bit of their life. It was, you can say, inevitable the way they found to be attracting each-other wherever they went. Prim also had the opportunity to show off her 'super power', albeit to a chosen few.
I totally agreed with Prim where she thought Oliver will always be Oliver; someone who had so much joy for life that he made everyone around him happy. He was like a ray of sunshine and Prim couldn't think of him being any different. She wouldn't have him any different, hyperbole, silly dramatics and all that. For Oliver, he was just, as I mentioned before, smitten with everything about Prim. I was never in doubt truth being told. I'm now totally looking forward to the next book!
Punya H Rashid is a book reviewer