Book Review

A Lady for a Duke by Alexis Hall

Genre | Historical Fiction Romance
Page #s | 480
Publishing Date | May 2022

When Viola Caroll was presumed dead at Waterloo she took the opportunity to live, at last, as herself. But freedom does not come without a price, and Viola paid for hers with the loss of her wealth, her title, and her closest companion, Justin de Vere, the Duke of Gracewood.

Only when their families reconnect, years after the war, does Viola learn how deep that loss truly was. Shattered without her, Gracewood has retreated so far into grief that Viola barely recognises her old friend in the lonely, brooding man he has become.

As Viola strives to bring Gracewood back to himself, fresh desires give new names to old feelings. Feelings that would have been impossible once and may be impossible still, but which Viola cannot deny. Even if they cost her everything, all over again.


I confess that I was confused and intrigued by the idea of a trans romance Regency novel – although I know trans people have always existed, I had no conception for what that might might have looked like before the modern era. A Lady for a Duke, while being delightfully anachronistic in some ways, provided a realistic picture of the path a trans woman might have taken. Namely, using their assumed death in war as an opportunity to present themselves to society as their true gender.

I loved 90% of this book. The dialogue sparkles, the characters are unique and quirky, and the romance is positively sizzling. I am a huge friends to lovers fan, and adding in the drama of an assumed death made it all the richer. I also appreciated that revelations and “betrayals” were dealt with fairly quickly; I didn’t have to sit around for ages thinking: “Just TALK to each other already!” These were emotionally mature characters, and for that I am grateful. I also loved the diversity of queer characters, and I’m crossing my fingers that there will be a sequel that focuses on one of them.

What about that 10% that I didn’t enjoy? The end of the book went in a weird direction, to my mind. The book didn’t need a villain, and if it did, having one in the B plot show up at the end in comically evil fashion fell too flat and too late. It killed my buzz as the story was wrapping up, which sucks! But writing this a couple weeks after finishing the novel, I can say that this part has mostly left my mind and the parts that stick out are the sweet and spicy moments that populate the majority of the book.

Who Do I Recommend This Book To?

Romance readers, A Lady for a Duke is for you if you like friends to lovers and a bit of anachronistic sparkle to your Regency reads.

Check out our Queer Lil Library for more book recommendations and reviews!

3 comments on “A Lady for a Duke by Alexis Hall

  1. My Swedish library has this novel, which was surprising to me, but I might pick it up one day!


  2. Pingback: Queer Book Recommendations from Authors, Librarians, Book Sellers, and Bloggers – Roar Cat Reads

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