The plot is so unrealistic, it hinders me from getting emotionally involved in the story. And if a romance leaves me feeling cold it has failed its purpose, I don't read them for the historical aspect.
The banter and playfulness are always welcome additions, but you have to know were and when to use them, otherwise you end-up ruining a scene that was meant to be moving, or that was important to the plot progress. Not to mention it crosses the line from comical to absolutely ridiculous.
Cringe-inducing, ridiculous, unrealistic (even by HR standards, even though I know beforehand the pairing was between a duke and a maid). The tender moments were cheesy, many scenes (meant to express the characters' vitality,'spunk' gave me the impression that I was reading a script for a sitcom and other scenes meant to be dramatic were soap opera worthy. I just couldn't take this book seriously.
I used to think this of all historical romances until I run across a few that gave me faith in the genre again and my expectation of the genre are higher than before. I'm giving it 2 stars because it was easy to read, somewhat entertaining, and I didn't actively hate it.