I received this book for free from NetGalley, the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Series: Capturing the Carlisles #1
Published by Forever on February 28, 2017
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A LESSON IN SEDUCTION . . .
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.
If you’ve been following this blog quite a bit, you’ll know that I just love a good ducal romance set in England’s Regency period—as someone recently pointed out to me, dukes are the billionaires of the historical romance set, and I’ll give her that point. That historical reality numbered dukes of the time at two dozen or less with most of these specimens being the paunchy and grayed sort doesn’t keep me from enjoying romances in which they feature as heroes, and I’m pretty sure other fans of the genre would agree! So when I was offered the chance to read a new Regency series debut, If the Duke Demands, book 1 in Anna Harrington’s Capturing the Carlisles, I was happy to give it a go.
The author as well as the series was new to me, but I found that I quite enjoyed the style in which the book was written. It had an easy, modern feel, even though the novel was set in the Regency era.
The tropes were fairly familiar: Sebastian, a newly minted duke, feels the need to live up to his position in Society for the sake of his family following his father’s death and as a result has gone from rogue to paragon; Miranda, a country miss with a history of getting into scrapes who grew up playing with Sebastian’s family, is offered the chance at a London season.
Miranda believes herself in love with Sebastian’s brother, and Sebastian encourages her attentions while he searches for a proper ducal bride—so of course they find they can’t stop thinking about each other and sharing stolen moments and kisses and more.
I liked these characters fine. I especially enjoyed Sebastian’s inner brain-vs-heart struggle and the way his brothers teased him for it, but also his genuine concern for his family and for Miranda’s feelings (well, up until he fudged it up, of course!). Miranda I liked the idea of, as someone high-spirited who tends to get into scrapes, but who has dedicated her life to charity work. I did wish, however, that as a reader I was shown more of her penchant for trouble-making rather than being told about it from Sebastian, his brothers, and Miranda herself.
Still, their love story was very sweet, although punctuated by a couple of decidedly steamy scenes. It’s definitely a light, enjoyable read that’ll leave you smiling if you’re looking for a bit of a Regency fairy tale.
Feel Factor Rating
Excerpt from If the Duke Demands by Anna Harrington
Her eyes narrowed as she took in that bit of dubious advice and contemplated what he asked of her, with a curious look of deep study and concentration. For a moment, her expression was damnably disconcerting as she tried to think up a compliment to give him, as if she had never truly noticed him before as a man. Which inexplicably irked him to no end. How could she have not noticed him before as someone other than the Duke of Trent, other than just a friend?
“What you’re asking of me is impossible.” She shook her head with a soft sigh of defeat. “Every man in this room knows the rank you hold, the power and influence you’re gaining in Parliament. As for the ladies, you should have seen the way they all watched you when you crossed the room to ask me to dance.” She shrugged. “What could I possibly add to what everyone has already told you about how wonderful you are?”
He stared at her, momentarily stunned speechless. What she’d just said was exactly the kind of compliment a man wanted to hear from a beautiful woman . . .
And he didn’t believe a word of it. When he saw her lips twitch with amusement, his eyes narrowed. “You are incorrigible.”
She laughed happily. “Perhaps.” Her eyes shined, and for a brief moment, she shifted closer, somehow rising up on tiptoes as she danced to bring her mouth close to his ear. “But it is all true, you know.”
Then she pulled back into her original position and looked at him shyly through lowered lashes even as the tip of her tongue darted out to wet her lips. The paradoxical effect of innocent seduction was mesmerizing, and for a moment, he forgot they were dancing in the middle of a crowded ballroom. For a moment, there was only Miranda. And the pull of her was undeniable.
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