Anyway, I'm just happy it's Friday! Week-end! :) My sister is hosting a Tupperware night today LOL. It'll be interesting to see how it'll turn out. Also, Canada women nationals for curling is starting this week-end! It's going to be on for a week!! I'm so glad, because I enjoy the sport and it gives me something to watch :) It's three matches of about 3 hours per day!! Yay! It'll help because I've been a bit in a reading funk lately, so I'll have something to do. Have barely read this week :( I'm hoping to get my copy of Celebrity in Death, I think that'll get me going again :)
However, most important today is this review!! It took me days to write a review for She Tempts the Duke! :) I really enjoyed the book, but for some reasons, the words would just not come. After two attempts, I finally got inspired and it flowed this morning! Enjoy!! And look forward for the Week-End's Minis tomorrow :)
She Tempts the Duke by Lorraine Heath
published by Avon (Harpercollins Publisher) in January 2012
Three young heirs, imprisoned by an unscrupulous uncle, escaped—to the sea, to the streets, to faraway battle—awaiting the day when they would return to reclaim their birthright.Genre: Historical romance
Sebastian Easton always vowed he would avenge his stolen youth and title. Now back in London, the rightful Duke of Keswick—returning from battle a wounded, hardened, changed man—cannot forget the brave girl who once rescued him and his brothers from certain death.
Lady Mary Wynne-Jones paid dearly for helping the imprisoned young Lords of Pembrook, and she remembers well the promise she made to Sebastian all those years ago: to meet him once more in the abbey ruins where they shared a bold, forbidden kiss. While Mary is betrothed now to another, a friendship forged with dark secrets cannot be ignored. Unexpected passion soon burns dangerously between them, tempting Sebastian to abandon his quest for retribution to fight for a love that could once again set him free.
Series: The Lost Lords Pembrook trilogy, Book #1
The Story: She Tempts the Duke is the first book in a trilogy about the three Lords of Pembrook who, after their father's funeral, had to run away to escape the "mortal accident" their uncle had planned. Sebastian Easton, the 8th Duke of Keswick, went into the army while his twin brother, Tristan, became a cabin boy and went at sea, and their younger brother, Rafe, was left behind at a workhouse.
Twelve years later, Lord David is finally petitioning to have his nephews declared dead. To his surprise, it's also the time the three brothers chose to reunite, boot him out of residence and reclaim their status. Unfortunately, the Lords of Pembrook have been away from Society for too long and are not quick to be accepted given the circumstances... Especially Sebastian, the rightful Duke of Keswick, as he was disfigured during the war.
However, there is one person that will stand by them and that's their childhood friend and neighbor, Lady Mary Wynne-Jones, who has grown into a beautiful woman. On that faithful night, Mary was the one who helped them escape... and as a result, was sent to the convent by her father. It is only recently that her father has relented and let her come back to Society as well. Mary has never forgotten her friends and is extremely happy that they are still alive. She is determined to do her part to help the Easton brothers re-integrate Society... even if it displease her fiancé.
My Opinion: Well, I'm glad that after a rather weak end to her London's Greatest Lovers trilogy, Ms Heath has come back strong with She Tempts the Duke. I have to say, Ms Heath definitively has a knack for coming up with interesting premises for her series :) Three young boys, among which a new duke, run for their lives, go their separate ways and then, reappear twelve years later to reclaim their due? How can you not be enticed by this exciting premise? Add in the childhood friend who helped them escape... Oh yeah, this book got me as soon as I read the blurb :) And I'm really glad that the book measured up to my expectations!
I think what I enjoyed most in She Tempts the Duke was the characters dynamics. I loved how complex the three brothers' relationship was. On one hand, they are bonded by blood, but their brotherhood goes deeper than that. It is sealed by that faithful night and the hardships they went through resulting from it. On the other hand, they have spent twelve years apart and therefore, they don't know the men they have become and are not close to each other. There's also the resentment and tension to consider... Sebastian and Tristan are twins and older, so there's always been a chemistry, a complicity between them which left out the four years younger Rafe. When they were boys, Rafe was excluded and was also considered spoiled and whiny, which is usually the mantle that younger siblings have to wear... Then, when they went separate ways, Rafe was left at the workhouse, while the twins rode off... They later separated as well, but in Rafe's mind, he was still being excluded. Over the years, these feelings have not disappeared and they still cast a shadow on their relationship. Yet, they stood together to face their uncle and Society and they believed in the men their brothers have become. My favorite scene of the book is when the three brothers barged in the ball room, Sebastian standing in the middle, flanked by his two brothers with pistols drawn! Then, proceeded to boot their uncle out of residence :) It was totally kick-ass! LOL. Another part I liked is when Tristan was frustrated on Sebastian's behalf because people wasn't giving him his dues as a duke. I thought these scenes showed their unity and their loyalty to each other :)
Aside from the three brothers' relationship, I also liked Mary's friendship with them :) I loved that she stood up for them at the ball, backing them up - even though she doesn't have much influence in the ton. It was definitively brave, especially since she did it again and again throughout the book and even if it displeased her father and fiancé. And she did it because these men were her friends, even if she hadn't seen them in twelve years. She was loyal to them and seemed baffled that her father and fiancé did not understand the concept. And I was also happy to see her so outraged at Sebastian's treatment because he was disfigured. For her, his injury did not change anything, he was still her friend, the boy she gallivant with in her childhood. While she was closest to Sebastian, her friendship included Tristan and Rafe and I liked how the men were considerate of her and cared about her :)
Overall, I really enjoyed the characters. I liked that Sebastian was flawed both physically and emotionally. He was raised to be a duke, but he spent twelve years in the army, fighting wars and ended wounded. Any man who comes back from war disfigured always have a complex about it... but for Sebastian, it was even worst... Because I think he considered a reminder that he failed. He failed to protect his brothers, he failed his duties as a duke, he failed Pembrook... and that's what drove him. I also really liked Mary. I think she was a great heroine. No simpering miss here, no spoiled lady... spending ten years in a convent took care of that. I think it also made her appreciated life better :) I liked that she didn't over-resent her father or blame the Easton brothers. But really, what made Mary was her personality. She's just a nice woman, loyal... and she spoke out her mind. She and Sebastian married not under the best circumstances, but she wanted their marriage to work... and whenever Sebastian dropped the ball, she'd point it out. Not in a harpy manner, but just so Sebastian is aware of it... and that's what you need in a marriage. Communication. I enjoyed the romance, because Sebastian and Mary were childhood friends. Their bond was strong and not even distance or time had weakened it... And I really believe that have the boys not escaped, the result would be the same: Sebastian would have married Mary :)
She Tempts the Duke seemed to me to be all about the characters and setting up the trilogy. As such, the suspense was a bit weak - for example, their uncle's motive for wanting to kill the three of them. Although I did buy the explanations. Given the characters and the premises, I didn't mind the weakness :) However, there are a few things I wondered while reading the book. The three boys escaping made for something exciting... but I wondered if nobody could have helped them out. I mean, their father was a duke. He must have had a friend, a confident or perhaps a relative on their mother's side that they could have run to, no? Even if their uncle was their guardian, they were boys and Sebastian was the duke. They had more power on their side than have they been girls. Would nobody really believe them? Also, I wondered about Mary's situation. Her father was worried about her future, because he knew her cousin - his heir - would not take care of her once he died... and so he gave Mary a big dowry and pushed her to make a match. Couldn't he have made provisions for her in his will? If I'm not wrong, money is usually not entailed... Of course, she would probably have been booted out of her home by her cousin... but she had an aunt who was married to a peer. At least, if Mary had money, she wouldn't be without resource. So those are the two issues that niggled me a little while reading. Not big enough to dim my enjoyment, but still there.
My Grade: B+. She Tempts the Duke did not wow me as much as Passions of a Wicked Earl, but it was nonetheless a very good read and a very solid start to this new trilogy :) I'm really looking forward to reading Tristan and Rafe's books and finding out what happened and what the future holds for them :)