As I’ve mentioned, March is Women’s History month so with that idea in mind, I went in search of feminist romances. And when I say I went in search I mean that I went to Goodreads, typed in “feminist romance” and was given a list. Yes, I am legitimately that lazy. I was giddy when I saw several Courtney Milan books listed because I am not only a fan of hers as a reader, but also as an author. She is transparent and witty and brassy and I may or may not want to be her when I grow up.
However, hero worship aside, the first recommendation on that list for Ms. Milan (yes, several of her books were listed) was The Duchess War and… I am sad to say I hadn’t read it. I’ve been very aware of it, especially in light of recent events, but I had never read. So I took this as a sign, one-clicked, and my journey began.
Minnie is our female lead and what. a. lead! She is strong and very contrary to her generation. She has thoughts! Opinions! Shocking, right? This is the beauty of reading a historical because I can sit here with all my rights to vote, work, and drive a car while… this wasn’t always true for women. And real life humans like our darling Minnie are the reason I’m afforded these privileges.
So now that we’ve established that Minnie is badass, let’s move along to the darling Duke Robert, shall we? This man is book boyfriend material. He is a strong proponent of social justice to a degree that makes him radical for his time. Unlike many aristocrats of the era, (let’s be honest, of any era) he is able to clearly see the pain people less fortunate than he deal with daily and he feels for them on a deep level that will absolutely make you swoon.
It’s this empath-esque nature of his that makes him the perfect man for Minnie, even if she doesn’t realize it nor think it possible at first. Because you see, folks, our dear Minnie harbors a secret. She’s been able to experience both sides of the coin and sees the stark contrast between the freedoms men are afforded vs women better than any other person at the time possibly could.
But I have to be honest, one of my favorite things about this book was that the sex was NOT all fireworks and screaming ecstasy the first time and every time. There was awkward. There was fumbling. There were mistakes. And. It. Was. Okay!
To me, The Duchess War was a very female empowering story that took a classic trope (rich aristocrat and a poor, mousy love interest) and gave it an entirely new take. I am honored and thrilled to have The Duchess War be the first book for my Women’s History Month inspired readings.