If the Duke Demands
Anna Harrington     

Genre: Historical Romance
Series: Capturing the Carlisles
Book: 1


Miranda Hodgkins has only ever wanted one thing: to marry Robert Carlisle. And she simply can't wait a moment longer. During the Carlisle family masquerade ball, Miranda boldly sneaks into his bedchamber with seduction on her mind. Soon she's swept into rock-hard arms for the most breathtaking kiss of her life. But when the masks come off, she's horrified to find herself face-to-face with Sebastian, the Duke of Trent-Robert's formidable older brother.

Shocked to find Miranda in his bed, Sebastian quickly offers her a deal to avoid scandal: He'll help her win his brother's heart if she'll find him the perfect wife. But what begins as a simple negotiation soon spirals out of control. For the longer this reformed rake tries to make a match for Miranda, the more he wants to keep her all to himself.

For as long as she can remember, Miranda has been in love with her next door neighbor, Robert Carlisle the middle brother of the rakish Carlisle trio. So when the opportunity presents itself to show Robert that she’s the perfect woman for him, Miranda take it…even if it means sneaking into his bedroom. What Miranda didn’t plan on was a steamy encounter with Robert’ brother, Sebastian, the Duke of Trent.

A Carlisle brother through and through, Sebastian has always been a bit of a rogue. However, upon his father’s death and with the weight of the dukedom resting on his shoulders, Sebastian learned to curb his desires, at the expense of his happiness.

Despite the unexpected connection between them, Miranda and Sebastian agree to help each other find the perfect spouse. But what happens when it starts to look more and more like the perfect spouse might be…each other?

Oh, wow, Ms. Harrington, you have made me a fan! I always love a good historical romance and this one did not disappoint. If the Duke Demands is a spinoff of Ms. Harrington’s Secret Life of Scoundrels series, focusing on the Carlisle brothers. The sole Carlisle sister, Josie, got her happily ever after in a previous novel, How I Married a Marquess.

This book had a Pride and Prejudice-esque quality about it in that it focuses on how first impressions may not always be the right ones and that people are ultimately a product of their experiences. Miranda views Seb as the stuffy, older Carlisle and, at times, that is an accurate description of Seb, but only because he has had to face some awful guilt following his father’s death.

“Robert didn’t understand the pressure he was under—no one understood. He was a new duke whom most claimed was an upstart who didn’t deserve to be granted the title in the first place, whom every member of the quality would be watching like a hawk this season to see if he had the mettle to be a leader in the Lords and the presence to be socially acceptable. He could never take a single step nor make any decision without considering the ramifications of its outcome on his family, the tenants, all the estate workers and villagers…and most importantly, on his father’s legacy. He could no longer be carefree and blithely happy the way his brothers could. No matter how much he longed to be.”

The only time Seb allowed himself a reprieve to laugh and be his true self was around Miranda. Despite his affinity for Miranda, it took a lot of persuading by her in addition to some meddling by his siblings and his mother (gasp!) for him to see that it might just be okay to be happy.

The secondary characters were equally as entertaining as Seb and Miranda. Seeing the Carlisle brothers together, it is no wonder that they wreak havoc among the ton in London. I will say I found Robert to be slightly immature and sometimes he just grated on my nerves so I will be interested to see how Ms. Harrington allows him to develop in his own book.

All in all, this is a worthwhile read, especially for fans of Julia Quinn. It is very reminiscent of the Bridgerton series but with a little more heat.

~ Megan