Title: Disobey the Duke if You Dare Vol. 1
Author: Romance Machine K
Publisher: Manta Comics
Genre: Romance, Fantasy
Publication Date: March 17, 2023
A commoner named Lily has found her way into a noble family known as the House of Isles. She had married twice before; however, both of her husbands had passed away. Her father arranged another marriage with a Duke stating that she was to marry him no matter how brutal he was and to make it a top priority to bear children.
In her new marriage, she has never seen the duke’s face. Even when they are together, he has strict orders for her to never see it. Despite these orders, curiosity had gotten the better of her and she had become determined to know what her husband looked like. A priest named Ivan and a knight named Tannin, both of which serve the duke, offer their assistance; however, not even with their help are they able to grant Lily her wish.
Can her determination win out in the end?
First off, we have Lily, our main character. In the beginning, after both of her previous husbands had died, she had no interest in marrying again but under her father’s orders, she was forced to. Once she became married to the Duke, things started to go her way. She hasn’t been beaten anymore, she wasn’t talked down to or ignored. She had received a much better life than she had expected. The only thing that bothered her was the fact that she didn’t know what the Duke looked like. As far as her personality goes, she’s no pushover. Despite being born a commoner, she’s not afraid to speak up. She’s not harsh about it either as she commands with dignity and respect… as expected of someone who was born into nobility… only not.
Because of her personality, you grow quite fond of her. You sympathize with her plight of not even knowing what her husband looks like… especially after her life had improved so much. You’d think that she would be owed something as simple as seeing the Duke’s face. While it seems silly, there are yet unknown reasons behind it.
That brings us to the Duke himself. Everyone who talks about the Duke has described him as a gentle and caring person that can also be very strict at times… especially when it comes to his orders about having Lily see his face. Apparently, when he looks in the mirror, he doesn’t see a handsome man on the other side but rather something of demonic descent. Perhaps it was the 10 years he spent on the battlefield and the things he has done on those battlefields, but he certainly cannot see himself for who he is. Despite the strict orders, because of his complex, it makes his character seem inferior or unworthy of Lily and he truly believes it to be so.
That’s all it seems like until we reach the end of the series when some new information comes to light that puts a whole new dimension on his character… if it’s true. For how much everyone praises him, there is still this air about him that says to proceed with extreme caution. There are signs of it throughout the volume but the caring side of the Duke only seems but one of many. There are still secrets to be revealed and that makes his character really interesting.
Although a supporting character, Buttercup was adorable. She’s your typical nervous maid who ends up getting those nerves calmed by Lily’s hands. With Lily being born a commoner, she has an intrinsic connection to those who are also commoners… which includes the maids employed by the Duke. After dropping a tray, she quickly forgives Buttercup and it’s at that moment that she realizes that Lily is much different than any previous noblewoman she had served previously. After that, Buttercup seems a bit more confident in her work and enjoys serving her. They almost seem more like friends than master and servant which shows the kind of effect Lily’s personality can have on people.
So far, Tannin, Ivan, Tristan, and Dandelion all play their parts when needed. While they have their own individual roles, they are not significant… yet. This was a good introduction to all of them and I’m sure they will get fleshed out more in the coming volumes. Ivan seems to be the one that stands out the most among the four. Being a priest/clergyman, he serves as the Duke’s healer. Ivan is the one who took care of Lily when she came down with a fever but he’s far from your typical priest. He’s high-spirited, a bit cocky, and a little mischievous… all the things that are unbecoming of a priest but nothing to where he’s indecent as one. It’s definitely a nice balance to his character.
This was quite the first volume! We established the world, the main plot, one of the story’s main pain points that need to be overcome, a solid cast of characters, and quite the cliffhanger for an ending. It’s everything that you could ask for in the introductory volume of a brand-new series. Nothing seemed overwhelming and the story flowed nicely creating an enjoyable reading experience.
The characters are not flat either. Typically, in a fantasy romance setting, you have your typical party of characters all with their archetypes that are done to death but these characters seem to have more life in them than normal. Lily has a backbone but is also sweet. She walks that fine line between commoner and noble nicely. The Duke is a mixed back with secrets surrounding him, Ivan is the lively priest while Tannin seems to be more of the voice of reason. Lily’s brother Dandelion seems to be a bit on the pure and innocent side while her friend Tristan is devious but in a protective way. There’s definitely a lot of depth here and lots more to be explored.
Even though the plot of the first volume is simple and repetitive… “what does my husband’s face look like?” the characters carry that premise on their backs and bring life to the story. The story isn’t one-dimensional either as we end up with a twist at the end. While we have seen a lot of fantasy romance stories like this in the past, Disobey the Duke if You Dare does enough to stand out in the pack. I know that I really enjoyed the first volume and recommend picking up and reading it!
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This item was provided for review by Manta Comics