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What the Duke Desires by Sabrina Jeffries

"Forgive me, madam, it appears that you and I got off on the wrong foot."
"You got off on the wrong foot. I merely watched you shove it into your mouth."
Insert a fist-pump here because that was a Score! for Lisette Bonnaud, bastard of a duke and spitfire all of her own making. I honestly didn't expect to enjoy What the Duke Desires so bleeding much, but it was such an irresistibly charming read that it proved impossible to shake my head in reproof of all the obvious inaccuracies to the time period. Heck, I'm not a historian so for all I know certain phrasing may have been invented around this time. Anyway, once I finished sniffing, I realized how sensational a time I was having reading as Maximillian Cale, Duke of Lyons, and Lisette warily danced around the intoxicating combination of hard-held secrets and blatant sexual attraction.

In truth, we've all seen this story dance a million different ways to the same tune—a rich and powerful man with heart-rending secrets meets the woman who sees herself lacking in some way but breathes fire nonetheless. And when the two characters meet either really great or really terrible things are written to happen. This, in What the Duke Desires, was the case of really great. Jeffries spent a lot of time fine-tuning both Max and Lisette's personalities, down to the littlest flaw to make sure we saw everything by the end, making their slow pull to each other not only powerfully attractive but impressively convincing. Not to mention sweet.

"You're so pretty," he murmured as she struggled with his boots. He ran his hand over her curls, tangling his fingers in them. "Your hair is like... it's like... I dunno. Something black and shiny."
She smothered a smile. Apparently when the duke was jug-bitten, he became somewhat inarticulate. "Like beetles, perhaps?" she joked.
"Right, beetles." He blinked, then scowled. "Not beetles. Don't be daft." He'd filled both hands with her hair and was smoothing it and caressing it. "Something prettier."

Too often in such sexy circumstances are the adorable and cute forgotten in the thick of all the tension. Tender moments in between aside, I loved finding Max in particular so damn adorable, and loved it even more when Lisette noticed also. Made me feel truly attuned to her while admiring him. I don't know if I'm making much sense here, but Jeffries won me with her characterization over everything else is my meaning.

He was watching her now, his gaze hooded. "All the same, no one will ever believe that you and I are brother and sister. We sound too different, look too different." His voice dropped to a rough thrum. "And I can assure you, I will never be able to treat you like a sister."
That got her dander up again. "Because I'm too far beneath you?"
"Because you're too beautiful." When she stiffened, he added ruefully, "I can't pretend I don't notice. And last time I checked, brothers weren't supposed to notice such things about their sisters."

Beyond them, however, was more than enough to keep me entertained, especially when it brought the two tangled together in confusion, awkwardness, and frustrating (for them) situations. It's an adventure of sorts and a mystery that, while not terribly complex, held enough shocking concluding details to bear weight on the characters and, therefore, me. From start to finish, I couldn't bear to be interrupted.

Oh, what a satisfying bout this was. What a Duke Desires contained everything I desire to read—adventure, mystery, well-developed characters, and a downright lovely romance. Gossips, cruel villains and their henchmen, equally overbearing and overprotective brothers, a tinge of political figures and other assorted mentions. What a Duke Desires is delightfully quick to read, causing surprise in how little time it took to finish. A fan of romance blossoming in bizarre situations and fast-paced reading will adore this first book in The Duke's Men series. I can't wait to continue!

Ebook / 417 pgs / June 18th 2013 / Pocket Books / Goodreads / $7.99

My copy was purchased from Barnes & Noble as a NookBook.

What did I rate What a Duke Desires?
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Marathon said...

This sounds very sweet and entertaining. It's been a while since I've read a historical romance, though I am all for books that are quick and delightful. Nothing like a good bit of sizzling entertainment. :D I'm glad you had fun with this, Mara!

And I hope you are well! :)

Marathon said...

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