Author(s): Julia London
Series: A Royal Match #1
Narrator(s): Justin Hill
Published by Harlequin Audio on February 22, 2022
Length: 11 hours and 47 minutes
Genre(s): Historical Romance
First in a sparkling all-new series by New York Times bestselling author Julia London
When Crown Princess Justine of Wesloria is sent to England to learn the ropes of royalty, she falls under the tutelage of none other than Queen Victoria herself. Justine’s also in the market for a proper husband—one fit to marry the future queen of Wesloria.
Because he knows simply everyone, William, Lord Douglas (the notoriously rakish heir to the Duke of Hamilton seat in Scotland, and decidedly not husband material), is on hand as an escort of sorts. William has been recruited to keep an eye on the royal matchmaker for the Weslorian prime minister, tasked to ensure the princess is matched with a man of quality…and one who will be sympathetic to the prime minister’s views. As William and Justine are forced to scrutinize an endless parade of England’s best bachelors, they become friends. But when the crowd of potential grooms is steadily culled, what if William is the last bachelor standing?
A Royal Match
I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
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The king of Wesloria is ailing and not likely to recover. This means that Crown princess Justine Ivanosen will soon become queen. However, her mother, the prime minister, advisers and other ministers believes she is not ready for the throne. To prepare her for the next journey of her life, she was sent to London to train at the feet of Queen Victoria. While there, it was expected she would find a suitable match for a Prince consort.
Because of her age, twenty- five, finding a husband wouldn’t be easy and so the services of Lila Aleksander, renowned match maker was enlisted. The prime minister, unbeknownst to Justine, persuaded the Scottish Duke of Hamilton to have his son and heir Lord William Douglas to serve as her escort around London. While ensuring the matchmaker made the perfect choice. William, however, was not keen on the task as his encounter with Crown princess eight years ago left him with a poor taste.
1. The Narration: Justin Hill narrated, and he did an excellent job. He impressed me with the way he distinctively captured the voices of all the characters, accents and all. He breathed life into the story, which made for a pleasant listen.
2. The witty and snarky banter between the protagonists had me chuckling a few times.
3. The progression of Justine and William’s relationship. They barely tolerated each other in the initial stages. However, throughout the progression of the story they became friends. It took them awhile to recognise that their feelings for each other went beyond friendship.
4.Justine may have been the Crown princess Wesloria, but she was down to earth. She did not have a pretentious bone in her body. She has the citizens of Wesloria interests at heart, but her fears and insecurities presented a stumbling block to her ascension to the throne. Justine made her share of mistakes along the way, which she readily acknowledged. She grew throughout the story and by the end she became a force of nature.
5. William was such a delightful character. He may not have been on the list of potential candidates as a match for the princess, but he turned out to be the perfect match. However, an alleged scandal from his past threatened to destroy his honour and integrity along with his quest for happiness. I found his attempts to discourage the matches recommended by the matchmaker entertaining.
6. I love the humour sprinkled throughout the story. The funniest parts for me involved the many suitors of the princess.
Least Favourite Aspects
1. Justine’s sister, princess Amelia annoying and immature behaviour grated on my nerves. A spoilt and entitled brat who used every opportunity to show up her sister. It didn’t help that their mother kept putting Justine down.
2. It took me awhile to get into the story and to warm up to the characters. Also, the pacing was fine until midway into the story.
🎧︎Last Duke Standing delivered a slow burn romance with a happily ever after. Perfect for fans of regency romance.
QUESTION & ANSWER
- Tell us about your latest book. Who are the main character(s) and what can readers expect when they pick up Last Duke Standing?
Princess Justine Ivanosen is going to be queen of Wesloria sooner than she hoped—her father, the king, is dying from tuberculosis. Because he is declining, a marriage becomes very important. The Prime Minister is dead set against having a young woman ascend the throne without a man to guide her, and her mother is still smarting over Justine’s disastrous affair with a charlatan, the reveal of which has left her without great prospects at home. The Prime Minister convinces the queen that they ought to employ a matchmaker to make quick work of it. They can ship her off to England to apprentice with Queen Victoria, bring some suitors around to court her there instead of here, where all of Wesloria will be watching, and give strict instructions that she is to return with a fiance. The prime minister won’t leave the selection of the lucky fellow to chance, and persuades one of his old cronies to send his handsome son to London to keep an eye on the selection process.
William Douglas, the future Duke of Hamilton, has been flitting around Europe for ages. He’s met the princess before, but she was hardly more than a snippy girl who didn’t like losing parlor games. The last thing he wants to do is babysit that child. But he discovers the girl in his memory is now a very attractive grown woman. She’s still a challenge, however—she likes to be called Your Royal Highness a lot more than he likes saying it, and expressly forbids him from offering his advice. He’s one of those people—if someone says don’t do it, he’s going to do it. And he has some advice about every man that comes to meet her.
Lady Aleksander, the matchmaker, sees that these two might be perfect for each other. The only way to find out is to bring some gentlemen around that she knows will unite Justine and William. But they are too busy pretending they aren’t falling in love to even notice.
- Who was your favorite character to write in THE LAST DUKE STANDING and why?
I like all the main characters. Justine and William were so meant for each other. Little sister Amelia has some growing up to do. Beckett Hawke and Donovan are back from A Royal Wedding series. But I really enjoyed creating Lady Aleksander, the matchmaker. She is the third point of view in this book, and her observations of what is happening is like the Greek chorus—she can see clearly what the leads can’t see. It liked that she’s in her forties, very much in love with her husband, and she just wants everyone to have what she has. She makes no apologies for who she is or what she does and she has the patience of Job. She also likes to eat. We have that in common.
- What do you like about writing in the historical subgenre? What are the challenges?
I fell in love with historical fiction when I was a girl. Castles and princesses were a long way from a ranch in West Texas, but I loved the stories of balls and gowns and the idea of a rich gentleman. I was surrounded by farmers and ranch hands, so the idea of a pretty dress and fancy dinner had a fairy-tale appeal. I loved history in school, and I minored in British history. The fairy-tale appeal still persists—through the last election and the pandemic, it was a great relief for me to slip off to another world where people were genteel and the biggest problem they had was the strict rules of etiquette putting a damper on their moves. The challenge of writing historical romance today is to make it interesting for the new generation of readers. There is a lot more competing for their attention than there was for mine at a similar age. But a good love story is a good story, no matter the era.
- Who are some authors you look to for inspiration?
One of the best romances I ever read was Here Be Dragons by Sharon Kay Penman. It is a history of Wales, and of King Llewellyn and his very young wife Joanna. The history is dark and bloody, but they truly loved each other.
I have also found a renewed admiration for Julia Quinn. I can look back at her Bridgerton series now and see how clever she was at giving us a large family with a lot of issues to enjoy for years. She must have taken excellent notes from her own books to keep up with all the twists and turns in that family.
- What is your writing routine like? Do you have a specific place you write? Time of day?
My routine is to do it every day. I usually do some physical exercise in the morning, but once I’ve done that, and picked up the house, and done my Wordle, I get to work. I write every day. I have an office, but the pandemic has made me sick of it. So I move around the house now. I am done with the day’s work by the time school is out—I used to be able to keep my head in two places (the book and family) but I can’t do that anymore. I don’t know what happened to my ability to multi-task, but it has been obliterated. So I work as much as I can during school hours and then hit the wine fridge like any red-blooded working mom.
- What’s next for the Royal Match series?
I am just finishing The Duke Not Taken. It’s about Princess Amelia, who is also sent to England under Lady Aleksander’s care to find a husband. Amelia really wants a husband and a family. Her problem, however, is she’s too much of a straightshooter for most people. And she’s not willing to settle. Enter the Duke of Marley, who has to be the only man in one hundred square miles who is not the least interested in a beautiful, rich, young princess. He has his reasons…
Reading this book contributed to these challenges: