A Groom of One’s Own, by Maya Rodale

Maya Rodale’s A Groom of One’s Own is set to drop on June 29. I’ve the ARC for months and just recently got around to reading it. It’s a charming time pass about Miss Sophie Harlow, a “Writing Girl” for the London Weekly. Fresh off her own jilting at the altar, she moves to London and becomes a wedding reporter for the gossip rag, which also employs several other Writing Girls. A chance encounter with a handsome man begins to renew Sophie’s hopes in romance…and then he turns out to be the “double duke” involved in the ton‘s wedding of the year!

As one might hope, Sophie and Brandon (as in “The Duke of Hamilton and Brandon”) are the backbone of the novel. Rodale paints them with humor and depth and creates a very believable build of tension between them. Hanging in there for their resolution made up for some choppiness and uneven spots. I did not know, going in, that this book was the first in a series, but that was something remedied in the first 60 pages, when Rodale introduced everyone in the universe ever. Readers meet everyone from the Writing Girls, to the male employees at the London Weekly, to the members of a salon that is never mentioned again in the entire novel. That salon, Lady Jane’s, was a nod to the real-life Lady Jane’s that’s held every month here in New York, but other than being a cute shout-out, it just cluttered the canvas with names. If you’re writing a series, seed the people involved in it evenly throughout your text and use them for something. Introducing everybody at the beginning and then banishing most of them to the ether does no good for readers like me, who have the memory capacity of a goldfish. I really don’t remember most of the extra characters, except Sophie’s best friend and housemate, Julianna.

Lest I sound like I’m flogging the book, the characters Rodale does flesh out, she fleshes out exceedingly well. I loved that Brandon’s fiancée, Clarissa, was not the “bad guy” of the piece, and I became just as invested in her story…cheering when she began to grow a backbone. Julianna, as well as Brandon’s fellow club member at White’s, Roxbury, were great supporting characters. And what does a dashing foreign prince have to do with it all…? Well, you’ll just have to read A Groom of One’s Own to find out!

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5 thoughts on “A Groom of One’s Own, by Maya Rodale

    • I had no idea it was a real life dukedom until you mentioned it…and then promptly went and looked it up! I’m betting that’s the assumption the author was operating under: that the average reader just wouldn’t know.

      I remember the notes in the back talked about the probability of female newspaper writers during the era, but I don’t remember if it mentioned the Duke of Hamilton and Brandon being a title that actually exists!

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  1. The author–ahem, myself–uses resources like the wikipedia’s list of dukes or list of earls and other novels from the time period, among other sources, to find authentic British names and titles. I then mix and match, with the goal of finding names that fit the characters . I made my hero a double duke to emphasis the weight of his responsibilities and as a fun nod to all the other powerful and wealthy books in so many other Regency romances. To me–as a reader and author– the characters and their relationship is what is the most important and interesting aspect of any novel and I’m betting that’s what majority of readers want from their romance novels, too.

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    • Hi, Maya. Thanks for the response! I think there are varying levels of readers, and everyone has different things they look for in a novel…be it a romance novel or literary fiction or a comic book.

      I’m not as familiar with English aristocracy, but if we were talking, say, the Raj period in India and someone used an existing historical figure or title, it might give me pause.

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  2. Hi Maya and Mala, I’ve very familiar with titles which it gave me pause that you were using an actual Dukedom, two actually since the hero’s fiancee is the daughter of the Duke of Richmond, Gordon and Lennox. For me, this would take me out of the story, knowing that the dukedom is real but the hero is not. At first when I read about the book, I thought you were writing about a real life love story which I thought was cool. Susan Johnson did the same thing in one of her last novels, where the hero was the Duke of Grafton which is also a real life dukedom. Perhaps I just know a little too much about English histry.

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