Release Date: Jun 30, 2020
Series: Desperately Seeking Duke
Heat Level: Sensual
Imprint: Avon Books
Slow start with a rewarding finish.
A reminder to readers, I typically don’t read blurbs before I select books for review. I often select by author and title alone and sometimes get to see a cover. Therefore, having enjoyed Linden’s books in the past I went into this one without having a clue about the story — I almost DNF’d it.
Thankfully, I made myself a note give this book one more chapter and I’m glad I did.
Maximillian St. James has just found out that he’s second in line to a dukedom. He’s a rogue and always on the hunt for money, so imagine his good fortune when the Duchess of said dukedom is willing to give him an allowance to improve his behavior, get married, and lead a life worthy of a duke. Setting his sights on at least the middle one, St. James seeks a marriage with biddable bride who will get him a stake in a successful business. Only problem, the bride elopes leaving St. James to marry her sister, Bianca.
A shrew with keen business sense and a temper to match, Bianca never thought to marry. She’s too focused on what she loves the most her family’s ceramics business, which is why she agrees to marry St. James in the first place, to save the family business from being lost due to breach of contract.
This right here is where I got hooked. Enemies to loves, bring it on. Of course, it was less enemies and more stubborn parties to lovers. St. James is the rogue with a heart of gold, he’s not what he seems on the surface and I enjoyed it; a breath of fresh air from the typical rogues and rakes who own their monikers. Bianca was a bit harder to adjust to, but that’s probably because I got to live inside St. James head. This made me contemplate unlikable heroines, and honestly, it’s not that I disliked Bianca, it’s that I wanted to give her a chance.
As for subplots, there are a couple, including one from St. James that caught me off guard and a villainous jerk that I absolutely enjoyed hating. Everything does come together in the end, and there is little surprise or twist to how things work out. Though I will say there seemed to be a double black moment, and I enjoyed this alternative ending to the romance.
Bianca and St. James falling for each other is delightful and it’s kicked off with St. James and this enjoyable tidbit.
“Of course it won’t be,” he said. “Someday you’ll come to me—” She gasped in fury. “—and when you do, it will be for pleasures that most women only dream of.”
Pleasures that most women only dream of is the phrase that keeps Bianca up at night and as the story unfolds this is what replays in her mind as she falls for St. James, who unlike Bianca’s other male figures in her life, wants to be a partner to Bianca, not a restraint.
I could probably unpack this story a bit more, but I’ll say that it’s worth the slog through the slow start to get to the meat. I’m interested to see how the rest of the series plays out and a bonus, there’s an extra short story at the end. For readers who enjoy Lenora Bell and Miranda Neville.