Duke, Actually by Jenny Holiday
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Heat Level: 🔥🔥
Release Date: November 16, 2021
I received a complimentary copy & audiobook of this book from the publisher.
USA Today bestselling author Jenny Holiday follows A Princess for Christmas with another delightful contemporary Christmas romance between a playboy baron and a woman who has said goodbye to love.
Maximillian von Hansburg, Baron of Laudon and heir to the Duke of Aquilla, is trapped. Under pressure from his domineering father, he must marry a suitable bride before he inherits a title that feels like a prison sentence. In New York to meet a prospective wife, he ditches his responsibilities and appears on Dani Martinez’s doorstep. He’s been intrigued by the no-nonsense professor since he met her at the Eldovian royal wedding and is determined to befriend her.
Newly single Dani is done with love—she even has a list entitled “Things I Will Never Again Do for a Man”—which is why she hits it off with notorious rake Max. He’s trying to escape relationships, and she’s resolved to avoid them at all costs. All they want from each other is friendship and a distraction from their messy lives.
As their bond begins to deepen, so does their attraction, until they end up in bed together. Falling in love was never part of the plan—Max’s family doesn’t see Dani as a perfect match, even as his heart tells him she’s the one, and Dani isn’t sure she can make it in Max’s world. Can they find the courage to live they life they desire, even if it means risking everything?
After Dani’s husband leaves her for a younger woman, Dani finds herself newly single. She’s finally able to do the things that she wasn’t able to when she was married – including spending more time with her family. Dani doesn’t want to find herself in a relationship anytime soon and nothing can change that.
Maximillian von Hansburg is known as a ladies man. On the surface, Max is carefree and nothing fazes him. But Max is feeling the pressure from his parents. They want Max to find a suitable wife before he inherits the title of Duke. Max had a perfect thing going with his best friend Marie, but she ended up finding her one true love (in A Princess for Christmas) and now he’s back to square one.
When Max finds himself in New York and calls on Dani – a tender friendship forms. Max and Dani already know of each other as both of their best friends are going to marry each other. But Max insists on befriending Dani. Dani isn’t quite so sure about the Depraved Duke, but soon finds herself actually liking him. Can they keep their relationship strictly platonic? Or will sparks fly?
I read A Princess for Christmas last year and remember really enjoying Max’s character. But I wasn’t quite sure what to expect in Duke, Actually. Well, I was pleasantly surprised at how much I absolutely loved this book. I loved the slow progression of friends-to-lovers between Max and Dani. Duke, Actually had the slowest of slow burns, but I never felt like the relationship was going too slow.
Both Max and Dani were so sweet with one another and yet I found myself grinning or laughing at their antics. Their relationship felt so real and that made me love this couple even more because of that. They had their own insecurities and vulnerabilities, and yet they completely understood each other and were always there for each other – no matter what.
I had the opportunity to listen to the audiobook of Duke, Actually and really enjoyed it. The audiobook was narrated by Stacy Gonzalez and I felt like she did a great job. The narration took me a bit to get into, but once I started really getting into the story – I ended up really enjoying all of the voices Stacy narrated. I could always tell when a character was upset or happy. I was constantly grinning when Dani and Max were texting and felt all of the burden Max was shouldering when he was interacting with his parents. Overall, I feel like Stacy Gonzalez did a wonderful job narrating Duke, Actually and highly recommend the audiobook!
If you’re looking for a sweet, tender, friends-to-lovers romance with Christmas-y vibes, grab your copy of Duke, Actually!
CW: Parental neglect/abuse
**Although Duke, Actually can be read as a standalone, I think there’s a lot of backstory on Max and Dani from A Princess for Christmas and would recommend reading the books in order.