Romance reader and writer shares her thoughts on what she's reading, what she's writing, and what she's finding tangential to romance reading and writing.
Tuesday, January 17, 2012
Tuesday Review: She Tempts the Duke
She Tempts the Duke
By Lorraine Heath Publisher: Avon Release Date: January 31, 2011
Sebastian Easton, the eighth Duke of Keswick, was only
fourteen and his two younger brothers were only children when, with the help of
Sebastian’s best friend, Lady Mary Wynne-Jones, they escaped from the tower in
which their uncle had imprisoned them and fled into the night. Twelve years
pass. The Easton heirs are presumed dead, and their uncle it just about to be
recognized as duke with all the wealth and power that entails when Sebastian
and his brothers return. The children who left are now men hardened by all they
endured to survive and by war. Keswick, the most scarred psychically and
physically by their experiences, is filled with determination to claim what is
rightfully his and see that his uncle pays for his crimes, which Keswick
suspects includes the murder of the seventh duke.
The years have brought change to Lady Mary as well. When the
twelve-year-old Mary asked her father to help the Eastons, he ordered her never
to mention the help she had given them to anyone and sent her to a convent where
she remained for many years. Although she gives up hope after long years with no
message, she has never forgotten her friend Sebastian, the night he left, or
his promise to return. Although the scarred, maimed man who returns looks very
different from the beautiful boy who left, Lady Mary recognizes him when he and
his brothers burst into the ballroom to challenge their uncle’s right to the
Mary is betrothed to a man with whom she expects to create a
happy life, but the attraction the adult Keswick holds for her is as strong as
the tie they shared as children. She is undeterred by his wounds and by her
father’s warning that she is courting disaster by maintaining her friendship
with the dangerous duke. When her father’s fears are realized and Mary’s
betrothal is ended, Sebastian feels honor- bound to marry her. But happiness
for the two is possible only if Sebastian’s desire for a life with the woman he
loves proves greater than his hunger for vengeance against the man who
destroyed his youth.
She Tempts the Duke introduces a new series, the Lost Lords
of Pembroke, from Lorraine Heath. The prologue introduces the hero and heroine
as children. They are brave and loyal to one another, and it would take a
reader with a harder heart than mine not to be won over by the characters in
this first scene. While there is nothing unexpected in the way the relationship
between the adult Sebastian and Mary develops, it remains easy to feel sympathy
for them and to root for the two to find their HEA. Sebastian is a tortured
hero in many sense of the word, and Mary’s strength and tenacity are admirable.
The younger Eastons, Tristan and Rafe, are interesting characters as well.
I liked many things about this book. Heath is an experienced
writer who knows how to craft an emotional tale. While this one is not the
equal of her best work, Always to Remember and her Texas trilogy, it is an
engaging story with characters I cared about. It is also a story weakened by a
villain who is little more than a placard reading “Evil Man,” but that’s not a
big enough flaw to stop me from looking forward to Tristan’s and Rafe’s
stories. With that one cautionary note, I recommend this book.
What do you expect to see in a successful villain? What’s
your favorite Lorraine Heath novel?
Note: You will see
that I assigned no stars to this novel. This will be my practice with all
subsequent reviews. Assigning a grade was often an exercise in anguish when I
was teaching, and I find it no less difficult as a reviewer. I don’t have a
problem summarizing a story and explaining what worked for me and what didn’t.
But not infrequently I spend as much time deciding whether a novel should have
three or four stars as I do writing the review. So for Tuesday Reviews here, I
will continue to rave about books I love, share the hits and misses of books I
like, remain silent about the rest and refrain from “grading” any book. I have no problems with reviewers who make
different choices. When I do guest reviews at The Romance Dish or other sites
where the policy is to rate the books with stars or some other symbol, I will
follow the policy of the site.