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Books Read in 2017: ‘Claiming the Duchess’ by Sherry Thomas (Romance Short Story, 3.5 stars) #amreading

Monday, March 13, 2017

Claiming the Duchess (Fitzhugh Trilogy 0.5)
by Sherry Thomas
Genre: Historical Romance (short story)
My rating: 3.5 stars

Book Summary:
Clarissa, the widowed Duchess of Lexington, has two great loves: the reticent and reclusive Mr. James Kingston and her faithful correspondent Miss Julia Kirkland, whom Clarissa has never met.

Now both Mr. Kingston and Miss Kirkland are due to arrive at Clarissa’s house—and Clarissa is about to find out that nothing of either is as she has been led to believe…

A story of longings–and longings fulfilled.

My GR Status Update(s):
03/06. . .Currently Reading
03/06. . .Finished Reading

My Review:
3.5 stars

I had this on my “novella” list in GR—because I’m supposed to be reading/analyzing “novellas” this year as part of my professional development toward writing my own.

However, with everything that I know about what constitutes the difference between short stories (up to 10k words) and novellas (approx. 10k to 35k), I’d say this one is a short story, not a novella.

According to the technical information for the book, it’s 24 print (45 Kindle) pages long. If you take the age-old formula that a print page is approximately 250 words, that means this story is only around 6,000 words. Which puts it squarely in short-story territory (i.e., under 10k words).

Is that a bad thing that it’s a short story? No . . . technically. I have nothing against short stories. In fact, I read another short story (fantasy) right after this one and thoroughly enjoyed it.

I liked the idea of this story (even though I’d figured out the “twist” a few pages into it). It was the execution of the story that didn’t work for me in this short format. You see, there was no conflict. There was a meet. There was a happily ever after. But there was no rising tension. No relationship development. No conflict. No dark moment. Nothing to really make me care about either of these characters.

When reading romance, yes, I know going into it that the two main characters are going to end up together (even if only one of them gets a viewpoint, as in this story). That’s not the main point of reading a romance story. The point of reading a romance story is to see what these two characters have to overcome in order to be together. And in this story, it was . . . not really anything at all.

Even the fact that the hero is a plain “Mr.” while the heroine is a dowager duchess could have been thrown in as a conflict. But nothing is ever even mentioned about the disparity of their social statuses. It was all just too easy.

So why 3.5 stars rather than a lower rating? Because I love Sherry Thomas’s writing style. Before reading this short story, all I’d read of hers (so far) was The Burning Sky, the first book of her YA The Immortal Heights series. (LOVED it—review here.) Because even with all of the issues enumerated above, I sped right through this story, smiling over the zippy dialogue and the sparkling prose. And I devoured the excerpt of Beguiling the Beauty, Book 1 in the Fitzhugh Trilogy that this short story is an introduction to. And I immediately added it to my TBR list.

My rating matrix:
5 STARS = one of the best I’ve ever read
4 STARS = a great read, highly recommended
3 STARS = it was okay
2 STARS = I didn’t enjoy it all that much, not recommended
1 STAR = DNF (did not finish)

View all my reviews on Goodreads

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