Today, I have a day off!! I know, how rare, right? My sister is once again volunteering at the Rogers' Cup, which is the tennis tournament held in Montreal. As a volunteer, she scores two tickets, so my dad and I are going to see some matches today! This year, Montreal is welcoming the men!! Then again, Murray and Nadal are already out, so is Del Potro... but meh, it's still a good excuse to miss work!! And who knows, perhaps at the end of the day, I'll have new favorite players!
I'll let you know how it tomorrow :) In the meantime, enjoy my review of Waking Up with the Duke by Lorraine Heath, one of my most anticipated book this summer!!
Waking Up with the Duke by Lorraine Heath
published by Avon (Harpercollins Publisher) in June 2011
They are masters of seduction, London's greatest lovers...Genre: Historical romance
Renowned for his bedchamber prowess, Ransom Seymour, the Duke of Ainsley, owes a debt to a friend. But the payment expected is most shocking, even to an unrepentant rake—for he's being asked to provide his friend's exquisite wife with what she most dearly covets: a child.
Living for pleasure, they will give their hearts to no one...
Lady Jayne Seymour, Marchioness of Walfort, is furious that such a scandalous agreement would be made. If she acquiesces, there must be rules: no kissing... and, certainly, no pleasure.
Until love takes them by surprise.
But unexpected things occur with the surprisingly tender duke—especially once Lady Jayne discovers the rogue can make her dream again... and Ransom realizes he's found the one woman he truly cannot live without.
Series: London's Greatest Lovers trilogy, Book #3
The Story: Three years ago, the Duke of Ainsley and his cousin, the Marquis of Walfort, were in a carriage accident resulting in Walfort being paralyzed from the waist down. In the days following the accident, the worries and uncertainties caused Lady Jayne to miscarry. Therefore, it goes without saying that Ainsley who was holding the reins feels guilty and accepts Lady Jayne's rancor as his due. As such, it is with disbelief that Ainsley hears out Walfort's request: to impregnate his wife. The idea is simply outrageous and Ainsley is sure that Jayne wouldn't acquiesce... Half in love with Jayne though, Ainsley accepts if it means bringing her happiness, giving back her life.
At first, Jayne is furious at the idea... but, how else will she has a child of her own? In the end, she reluctantly accepts to spend a month away with Ainsley. However, she is determined not get any pleasure out of this arrangement...
Unfortunately, all their plans go awry when Walfort's health starts to decline...
My Opinion: It's really not a secret in blogland that I enjoyed the first two books in this trilogy, Passions of a Wicked Earl and Pleasures of a Notorious Gentleman, a lot. Actually, enormously :) And so, I was really, really looking forward to Ainsley's story and I know I was not alone. As soon as I found out the blurb of Waking Up with the Duke, I emailed Ames telling her how interesting and unusual the storyline sounded. After reading the book, I command Ms Heath for writing such a daring storyline. I think she was able to take such a risk because the hero was Ainsley and readers were looking forward to his story... Unfortunately, the risk did not pay off ^_^;
Like everyone, I thought Ainsley was a great hero. I love how upstanding he was, but also how understanding and patient. He really cares about the people around him, he is responsible, etc. The perfect duke - actually, the perfect man. If I was offered to travel back in time to be Ainsley's bride, I would immediately - given there is some guarantee he would fall in love with me LOL. Anyway, it was kind of sweet that Ainsley was already half in love with Jayne... and that was the crux of the problem. Half in love and feeling guilty... that is not a good combination, because it meant he kept cuddling Jayne, trying to please and appease her. It gave Jayne a bit too much power and it was unfair. The whole romance was pretty much dependent on Jayne and she wasn't as great a character ^_^; Thinking back on Hilcia's review, it would have been great to see Ainsley be more assertive, be more duke-ish. I think it would have helped if there had been more interactions between Ainsley and his brothers (that was a bummer, really). However, I understand the circumstances... and in my book, Ainsley is still a great man LOL.
Now, Jayne. She was definitively a complex character. I mean, can someone blame her being bitter and resentful towards Ainsley after the accident and the miscarriage? I don't think so. Also, out of it, she lost a lot... not just a baby or a husband, but also intimacy. I'm not saying sex sex, but just hugs, kisses and embraces. Touches of affection. It must have been really hard for her, especially that period of time not having the technology of today or the knowledge. So her attitude towards Ainsley concerning the accident was totally warranted. The only problem is that she didn't know him very well and she made assumptions on his character that wasn't true. And then, given all the bad feelings she had towards him, she changed her mind way too quickly that it didn't make sense. I understand her given in to the one month to get pregnant. She desperately wants a child and that was pretty much the only way she was going to get one. Is it very different than artificial insemination? Okay, true, the whole point of artificial insemination is to avoid intercourse... but that technology was not available. I think that as long as Walfort was aware of it - there was nothing wrong with it. Sure, it was not accepted by society, but at least, she didn't lie to Walfort. And really, who wouldn't fall in love with Ainsley? The only thing is I didn't see a progression in the falling in love. One minute, she hated him... The other minute, she saw him doing some good things and the next, everything was forgotten and she was in love with him. That was my whole issue with the romance.
And this review wouldn't be complete without mentioning Walfort. Some might think he was manipulative and yes he was... but at the same time, he wanted everyone happy and everyone's future assured. And he did everything to do it, even withholding information. I like the fact that Walfort truly came to appreciate and love Jayne after the accident... and that when she came back after her month-long interlude with Ainsley, he was worried he has lost her.
When I read the blurb, I was wondering how Ainsley and Jayne would get their HEA ending. It's unfortunate how it came about, but I think Ms Heath did a great job about the story. The only problem was Jayne having to accept Ainsley's proposal... and I think once again, it gave her too much power. Anyway, she did come to her sense.
Aside from this, I liked the secondary storyline with Ainsley's mother and Leo :) LOL, go Leo!! :) I also liked the little bit of interaction we saw between Ainsley and his nephew. I thought that was really cute LOL. I was a bit disappointed that we didn't see much of Ainsley's brothers. I wished to have seen a lot more of them... Also, that the book wasn't focused a bit more on his past - him being a duke while being the youngest son. I understand that the three brothers have come to terms with their issues... but still, this was a very interesting and unusual dynamic and I think Ms Heath should have played it up a bit more. One last thing - I don't get the name of this trilogy. "London's Greatest Lover" - I would have think they'd be more rakish or something... but it didn't really play into the storyline... and every time it was mentioned how "great" a lover Ainsley was, I thought it was a bit too forced ^_^;
Ah well, Waking Up with the Duke was not the Ainsley story that I expected... and because of that, it did dim my enjoyment of the book a little. Still, I loved Ainsley in it, I loved the glimpses we saw of his family... and you have to give credit to Ms Heath for making this storyline work :) I think if Jayne had been a little bit different, less angry... it would have been different. Like I said earlier, I understand Jayne's feelings about the situation... but understanding doesn't make her character likable. So with a better heroine, this book would have been much better.
My Grade: B-. Looking forward to Ms Heath's next book :)