A Black Second-Chance Regency Romance for Fans of BRIDGERTON


Patricia Elzie-Tuttle is a writer, podcaster, librarian, and information fanatic who appreciates potatoes in every single one of their beautiful iterations. Patricia earned a B.A. in Creative Writing and Musical Theatre from the University of Southern California and an MLIS from San Jose State University. Her weekly newsletter, Enthusiastic Encouragement & Dubious Advice offers self-improvement and mental health advice, essays, and resources that pull from her experience as a queer, Black, & Filipina person existing in the world. She is also doing the same on the Enthusiastic Encouragement & Dubious Advice Podcast. More of her written work can also be found in Body Talk: 37 Voices Explore Our Radical Anatomy edited by Kelly Jensen, and, if you’re feeling spicy, in Best Women’s Erotica of the Year, Volume 4 edited by Rachel Kramer Bussel. Patricia has been a Book Riot contributor since 2016 and is currently co-host of the All the Books! podcast and one of the weekly writers of the Read This Book newsletter. She lives in Oakland, CA on unceded Ohlone land with her wife and a positively alarming amount of books. Find her on her Instagram, Bluesky, and LinkTree.

Welcome to Read This Book, a newsletter where I recommend one book that should absolutely be put at the top of your TBR pile. Recommended books will vary across genre and age category and include shiny new books, older books you may have missed, and some classics I suggest finally getting around to. Make space for another pile of books on your floor, because here we go!

Today’s pick is a regency era second-chance romance featuring straight Black characters to fit that Bridgerton-shaped hole in your heart.

Book cover of Aphrodite and the Duke by J. J. McAvoy

Aphrodite and the Duke by J. J. McAvoy

Aphrodite Du Bell feels incredibly burdened by her name: it’s a lot to live up to. Though she is incredibly beautiful and talented, she feels pressure to constantly be the most beautiful, the most talented, and the most everything. Being named after the goddess of love and beauty is a lot to ask of someone. She loves to walk about the gardens, and her mother thinks she loves to read a bit too much. Aphrodite is part of a big family of five siblings, and they are all very loving and close to each other.

Aphrodite is 22 and unmarried. She had every intention of marrying her childhood friend, Evander Eagleman, the Duke of Everely. As far as she knew, he had every intention of marrying her as well. During the season of her coming out (four years prior to the start of this book), she turned down every offer from every suitor, as she expected Evander to show up and ask for her hand. She waited and waited and he never showed. In fact, the next she heard was that he had gotten married to someone else. It is now the next eldest daughter’s turn for her coming out, and the family has insisted that Aphrodite go to London for the season with everyone to show support for her sister Hathor, who is just a giant ball of anxiety. Coincidentally, Evander has a younger sister, Verity, who is also coming out this season, and on top of that, Evander’s wife just passed away. The likelihood of Aphrodite and Evander crossing paths is incredibly high. The family is torn on this whole situation. Aphrodite’s mother, who is also Evander’s godmother, is depending on them running into each other and making up and getting married. Damon, Aphrodite’s older brother, is very much against it and does not want his sister to get hurt yet again.

While Evander is the Duke of an estate, he and Verity have had multiple traumatic experiences growing up due to their careless, abusive, and now deceased father and the father’s second wife, who was his mistress and not from their circles. This book went to some places that I did not expect it to go, and it’s told from multiple viewpoints. There is definitely sex on the page, which is both steamy and charming. While there is some trauma talked about in the book, it isn’t racism-based trauma, and racism is hardly a theme in this book, if at all. Content warnings for physical and verbal abuse, including child abuse, discussion of suicide, and violence.

That’s it for now, book-lovers!

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