(Dual review originally posted January 2013 at Book Lovers Inc)Stella: I discovered Shana Galen when I read The Rogue Pirate’s Bride, the last one in her Sons of the Revolution trilogy and I liked it so much I knew I discovered a new favourite historical romance author, so when I heard that she would have a brand new trilogy soon I was excited! Alisha, have you read anything from her before, or was this your introduction to her writing?Alisha: Absolutely new to me author. Even the name was new to me when I picked up this book. It was the premise of When You Give a Duke a Diamond that made me intrigued to read it. So glad I did, because Galen clearly knew what she was doing. The story starts with such tight, focused intent. For all that I was hooked by the book description, the prologue was even more intriguing.Stella: I agree, my interest was piqued when I read the blurb, but Shana Galen instantly got me hooked on the story once I started reading it. Both the concept (of a rigid stuck up duke falling for a carefree mistress) and the characters were exciting, and I found myself devouring the pages.Alisha: I immediately had to know more about “The Three Diamonds,” the three courtesans that live like rock stars in an era where reputation is everything. It was fascinating that the perceptions about them, their public personas, meant very nearly everything to them–their independence and well being, most importantly. Usually when reading an historical romance, you’ll find some sort of inclusion of the ton and how important it is to keep a good reputation. But here it was an even more acutely felt aspect. So much at stake! So much tension!Stella: Yes! They were celebrated and gazed upon as superstars, and I found it very interesting (since it was so unusual), that the Three Courtesans always considered how certain things/acts would affect their public image “diamond persona,” since it was their livelihood and they had to take all the ramifications into consideration. It was very interesting and eye-opening, because it certainly read very realistic and believable, it made me understand the pressure they were dealing with under their glamourous seeming lives.Alisha: And it made Juliette immediately likeable to me…and set me up to be angry at the Duke of Pelham before he even met the heroine. Given they become involved long before they actually meet, that’s a feat. Impressive when an author can pull off such strong feelings about the characters so early on.Stella: Yes, both characters were wonderful as Shana Galen made them so colourful and vivid, that they stepped off the pages and took on a life of their own quite from the start. I had my doubts as to how the author could make the readers sympathize and feel for/relate to a famous, celebrated courtesan, but bravo to Shana Galen, above all she made Juliette human and vulnerable and I liked her instantly.Alisha: And Pelham… such a cad! :-)Stella: In a couple of reviews I read that some readers had problem warming to him since he was such a stiff bore, but I didn’t have that problem. I understood why he had such a strict regimen in his life and that he was brought up this way to live his life for his responsibilities, and it only made me feel for him and hope he would soon find happiness with Juliette, who hopefully would brighten and alleviate his life.“No, I’m not made of ice,” she said quietly. “Neither are you, but we both have hard outer shells.” She gazed at him, those blue eyes penetrating like icicles, only far, far warmer. “You know where my shell came from. What about yours?”“I’m a duke. I’m expected to be—”“Pompous?”He frowned at her. “Formidable.”Alisha: Indeed. And even when he was being unreasonable and churlish with Juliette…so ingrained was his insistence on “proper” ducal behavior that he persisted with his reprehensible behavior even though fully aware of its silliness. Pelham behaved quite unfairly sometimes, but his understanding of his own behavior–and his later struggle to break free of it–made the difference.He knew he was acting in the most ridiculous manner imaginable, and yet he seemed unable to stop himself.Stella: Oh I loooved Will. He was like Mr. Darcy: aloof, rigid, but only because he was uncomfortable in social settings never having been used to them. He had a warm heart and he was a gentleman deep down. ;-) And I loved what a complex character Juliette was: besides the glowing and glamourous Duchess of Dalliance she was also simply Juliette, the lonely and wounded young woman only her closest friends got to see and know. She had vulnerability yet vivacity and wit, her humour and light really did bring out the sparks between her and the hero and added some much appreciated humour to the story:“His Grace and I are thinking of eloping via Gretna Green.”“Oh, dear.” Rosie secured a section of hair with a pin. “Shall I set out your traveling clothes and pack your valise?”“Not quite yet. I think I shall wait for an introduction to His Grace first.”Alisha: Loved that line. ^_^ Admittedly, all the build up of Pelham being such a stick in the mud and Juliette being lively and seemingly carefree…made it all the more spectacular when they clashed. Glorious fireworks in full color.Stella: *nods vigourously* They were really true opposites with Will being all that is proper while Juliette was the seemingly carefree social butterfly, full of light, dazzle and laughter. I loved how they complemented each other and how, due to Juliette’s influence, Will got to appreciate the small pleasures of life and enjoy them.Alisha: Though opposites, they made for a logical match, too. They’re both larger-than-life figures, bound by public opinion and desirous of the ability to just…be. To forget about expectation and live (and love) as they each wished to. Galen made that very clear, and it lent a greater sense of purpose to the characters and the story itself. Then there was the murder mystery. Was the inclusion of that element to your taste, Stella?Stella: Oh yes Alisha! Lately I have discovered that I just LOVE when historical romance and mystery are mashed together (in my opinion there aren’t enough stories of that kind), and I very much enjoyed how Shana Galen made When You Give a Duke a Diamond much more than a “simple” romance story. It was exciting and kept me glued to the page; I not once felt it forced or unsuitable for the story.Alisha: It took me some time to get used to the sudden shift in tone and focus; I swear that at one point I was so confused that I thought it was a paranormal book (and the antagonist was a vampire)! But eventually I got used to Galen’s narrative style and came to appreciate that fine balance of love and murderous intrigue.Stella: Lol! :-DAlisha: Speaking of Galen’s style… the story, at times, got really quite dark. Brutal violence, and themes of domestic abuse in various contexts. It could have really sunk what was marketed as a wild romp. But it was included for very specific reasons, and was never gratuitous. And it worked. Points again to Galen.Stella: Yes, it was a bit surprising since I usually expect historical romances to be even lighter and fluffier than contemporary romances, kind of like pastel coloured meringue puffs, so yes, it was surprising that this one included some darker aspects (but readers have no fears, these were just referenced to as past events).Verdict:Stella: I have to say I really enjoyed that besides the romance there was intrigue, murder, mystery and humour in When You Give a Duke a Diamond. With two well developed, three-dimensional, vivid characters it was a very entertaining and romantic read, and I can’t wait to read the next two books in the Jewels of the Ton trilogy, thankfully I won’t have to wait long, since Book #2, If You Give a Rake a Ruby will be released in March!Another lovely story by Shana Galen, I give it 4 stars!Alisha: This book displays a nice balance of romance and adventure. The tone of When You Give a Duke a Diamond took me for a ride through moments of levity, danger, sadness, and solemnity, and I appreciated Galen’s seamless transitions between each. The real highlight, however, is the gloriously antagonistic interactions between the main characters, both of whom are well-defined and identifiable from an early stage. A thoroughly enjoyable read with a very clear setup for subsequent books.I give When You Give a Duke A Diamond 4 stars!