How (Not) to Marry a Duke by Felicia Kingsley | Arc review

My rating: ❤ of 5!

How (Not) to Marry a Duke

Length: 389 pages
Published: the 21st of August 2018

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in return for an honest review.



I’ll just be completely honest here and say, this is not a great book. This is not a good book. I’m honestly struggling to even find it a decent book.


A hilarious romantic comedy perfect for fans of Sophie Kinsella, Jo Watson and Meg Cabot.

One minute, Jemma Pears is a struggling theatrical make-up artist in London. The next, she’s been left a vast fortune by her estranged grandmother. The catch: she must marry a man with a title to inherit. Jemma thinks this is truly impossible: she’s a romantic, searching for true love, not just a convenient marriage… and besides, where would she even find a titled guy?

Enter Ashford, the new Duke of Burlingham. His legacy: massive debts that he must pay back immediately or risk the bank seizing his assets. Or worse: his mother’s wrath!

When their lawyer hears of their situations, a secret match is made despite their mutual hatred of each other: through marrying Ashford, Jemma can inherit and Ashford can pay back his debts immediately. Problem solved. That is, until their marriage is leaked to the press and everyone finds out…

Now they have to play out the charade for at least a year or risk going to jail for fraud!

A hilarious pretense ensues and Jemma must battle against a crazy mother in law, a stuffy aristocracy, and finally, and most surprisingly of all, confusing feelings for Ashford…!

I don’t know where anyone would get hilarious from, this book is predictive, boring and unoriginal. It’s basically a modern fan fiction of Shakespear’s “Taming of the Shrew“. So if you want funny, I’d recommend you watch “10 Things I Hate About You” instead, because at least the film was fun. This was just one sad experience page after page. On top of that the female lead, Jemma, is one of the worst female leads, I’ve ever had the displeasure of meeting. I can honestly say, that Jemma did not deserve a happy ending, not at all.

In the beginning Ashford and Jemma doesn’t get a long, at all. They row at every given chance and, their goodnight ritual is to remind each other “you married me for money”. I know that Ashford did marry Jemma for money, but the reality is that its only a loan, that’s what’s stated at the lawyers office. Jemma on the other hand, married Ashford so she could inherit her grandmas wealth. And apparently there was a lot. With that in mind, I did find it strange that Ashford only got a loan. Since he’s to stay married to Jemma for a year, I would have thought it was his payment. Anyway, that just shows rather quickly who’s getting away with everything, but still acting horribly.

When Ashford and Jemma’s marriage gets leaked to the press they have no choice, but to live together to keep up pretences. Jemma moves in with Ashford and his mother and she’s expected, to take over the responsibilities that comes with being the Duchess. However, Jemma for some reason finds it totally reasonable to not integrate herself, while at the same time cry that no one cares about her. Imagine that!

“You always plays the victim.” Ashford blames me.
“I don’t play it, I am the victim! All your beloved high society people do nothing but talking about me, both in my face and behind my back, and try to put me in the most embarrassing situations.”
“If you don’t do your part to integrate yourself, nobody will ever accept you, when will you understand this? You keep staying in a corner hoping that someone has mercy on you and comes to talk to you! Flash news for you, lady: nobody gives a shit about your discomfort!”

I don’t actually agree with all that high society stuff, but like or dislike, it is what it is. You can either play along, or stay out. Jemma chooses to show up for gatherings, in sweats, and at events in extremely low cut dresses. I’m not a human behaviour specialist, but I do believe appearances is often a big part of fitting in. If you choose to stay on the outside, no matter how ballsy it is, how can you cry about not being accepted? I would expect any 25 year old to know better!

Later on Jemma’s parents loose their home and Ashford asks them to come stay with him and Jemma. He also asks them not to tell Jemma, that he’s behind it. So they’re to just show up spontaneously and when they do, he’ll ask them to stay. They agree and Jemma does really like having them around. However, the fact that they’re around doesn’t make her any nicer towards Ashford.

He just says that he’s happy that my father has retrived the precious Westfalia and that he’ll look forward to having tea with my parents tomorrow.
Message received, arsehole: now your mother isn’t here and you no longer need my parents to annoy her, you want to send them back to London to live under a bridge, but not before you have offered them a cup of your damn tea.

Who even thinks like that? Like “Honey, I’m looking forward to having tea with your parents tomorrow. *Mock gasp* Oh no, you’re going to turn them away.” I don’t know if this is an attempt at being funny, but for me it falls flat and seems like a petty tantrum. Which would be okay if she was a teenager, but she’s twenty-freaking-five! Yikes.

But nothing, and I mean nothing, could prepare me for the ridiculous ending!.

Jemma sees Ashford and his ex, Portia, sit together. She leans into him and the drama queen, that is Jemma, faints. That did make me laugh because, come on! Anyway, the next day she bursts into Ashfords office and see Portia kissing him. As Jemma has been cheated on a lot in the past (go figure), she doesn’t allow Ashford the chance to explain himself, instead she just leaves. Drama and all.

But hang on, we’re not even close to being done. After Jemma leaving she finds out she’s pregnant, and she decides to have the kid, but she doesn’t tell Ashford. As a result she alienates herself from everyone that’s linked to her life as the Duchess. Of course Ashford finds out and whoop dee doo, they kiss and make up, forgive and forget and live happily ever after.


To me Jemma is the embodiment of what’s wrong with so many female characters. She’s entitled, a brat, immature, petty, mean and so extremely judgemental and narcissistic. She doesn’t deserve a happy ever after, at all! With all this in mind, I would rate this book at zero. But instead I’ll just say this: I wouldn’t bother with this book if I was you.



Lets chat


Have you read anything like it or by this author? How do you feel about a FMC like this one? Comment and let me know.


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10 thoughts on “How (Not) to Marry a Duke by Felicia Kingsley | Arc review”

      1. Well, maybe we’ll see… Although, there’s a lot of books… I wanted to say “in the sea” but, that would make me sad, as they would all get wet!! 😅 There’s a lot of books.. On my TBR list?? Well, that’s definitely truth!!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Haha yes, books in the sea is a very sad thing. All those soaked pages. But yes, there’s plenty of books out there to read and honestly, I wouldn’t bother with this one. But if you do, please let me know what you thought about it 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

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