|Impatient with the strictures of polite British society, Miss Abigail Harewood has decided to live life on her own terms—and the first thing she requires is a lover. When the commanding Duke of Wallingford arrives on the doorstep of her leased holiday castle, she thinks she’s found the perfect candidate: handsome, dashing, and experienced in the art of love. |
But tempting Wallingford into her bed proves more difficult than she imagined. Restless and dissatisfied with his debauched life in London, the formerly rakish duke is determined to spend a year chaste. But as charm…and her alluring secrets.
Wallingford’s voice deepened and softened, both at once. “Why haven’t you any sense of propriety?”Abigail is twenty-three years old and has decided that she wants to take a lover. After living with her sister, she’s also decided that she doesn’t want marriage, having seen how her sister changed all because of her horrible marriage. But Abigail wants passion and knows that the Duke of Wallingford will make the perfect first lover for her.
“Because it gets in the way.”
“In the way of what?”
She tried to think. “Of becoming an interesting human being. A real person, instead of a cleverly dressed doll.”
“No one,” said the Duke of Wallingford, lifting the back of his hand to her cheek, brushing her with his knuckles, “no one would ever mistake you for a doll, Miss Harewood.”
Wallingford is a rake, sleeping with too many women, so many that he can’t remember their names the next morning. His Grandfather (a man who likes to meddle) arranges a marriage to force Wallingford’s hand. He’s having none of that and takes his friend (and Uncle) Burke up on his offer of living for a year away from the city. It’s a year that Wallingford plans to use for reflection and no, absolutely no sex. He meets Abigail and those thoughts fly right out the window, even though he tries hard to resist her.
This story is part three of this series, a series that had three couple’s stories happening simultaneously, and we’d get bits and pieces in the background for the supporting characters and part of the fun for me, was trying to figure out what was happening behind the scenes with the other characters. Abigail was so charming and very funny in the prior two books, she’d say off the wall, random things or come into a scene covered in feathers, it was funny and had me so curious about this unique woman. Unfortunately, I found her story to be a bit lacking here. She’s still the same free spirit, who acts and talks with truth, what you see is what you get with her, and all her emotions she wears on her sleeve. But there was something missing. I expected more humor from her and Wallingford and that wasn’t really present and I definitely expected more romance, which fell flat.
Part of the romance problem comes from the first time Wallingford and Abigail have sex. First, for a man who’s said to have hopped from bed to bed since he was 15 years old to have taken Abigail’s virginity and not know how to please her – Abigail was annoyed and I was pissed for her! I couldn’t buy in at all that this man, who’s supposed to have been a notorious rake, sleeping with woman after woman, has no idea how to actually please a woman? NO WAY. Even more, Wallingford had no clue that Abigail didn’t climax during their first time and he had to study up to figure out where he was going wrong. Now, this does lead to Abigail becoming a very, very happy woman in bed with Wallingford, it was just something that I couldn’t believe and couldn’t move past.
As the story starts to wind down, the whole series focused on a curse that was set hundreds of years ago. To break the curse of Wallingford’s ancestors, he must pledge his love and devotion to Abigail to break the spell…it doesn’t happen. The curse was flat out confusing. It involves two past lovers, their spirits, ghosts, their servants, a brother comes into play somehow. By the time the curse came to a head, I wasn't interested at all. I don’t want to spoil the ending, but Abigail comes up with a plan for Wallingford to find himself like he had planned to do initially with his year of reflection and solitude at the castle. The couple does get their happy ending, but the events that Abigail proposes and Wallingford accepts just felt plain odd. The entire ending left a weird taste from a separation, to Wallingford's journey to his return with a surprise waiting for him. Frankly, none of the events at the end made much sense to me.
I’m sad to say that overall I was disappointed with this story. I liked some moments from Abigail and once Wallingford studied up on how to please his lover in bed, the couple had some sexy scenes together. But there were too many moments that didn’t work for me and it's not a story I would recommend.
Release Date: February 5, 2013
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*eARC provided by publisher for review*