The Wicked Duke Takes a Wife by Jillian Hunter 227
Harriet Gardner was rescued from the streets by the Boscastle family after being discovered attempting to rob the Duchess of Sedgecroft's closet. They took her in, trained her to behave like a lady and gave her a job at their finishing school for young ladies. Lord Griffin Boscastle is the newly minted Duke of Glenmorgan and he is also the newly minted guardian of his late brother's illegitimate daughter Edlyn. When he takes her to the finishing school he and Harriet make quite the impression on each other as Harriet almost sets him on fire and he rattles her very precarious composure. When his old Aunt Prowlis decides that she wants Harriet to be her companion she debates it but decides to go. Griffin is worried that he won't be able to keep his hands off her, but he is determined that he, or his Aunt's crazy actions, can eventually convince her to quit and leave. Unfortunately Griffin still feels a major sense of obligation towards his brother's fiance and everyone believes that he should court her and fulfill the marriage contract.
Upon meeting Lady Constance no one is very happy: she is selfish, cold, and incredibly boring. Aunt Prowlis and Harriet agree that she is not at all appropriate for Griffin and despite the fact that it is also obvious that Griffin has no interest in her, they engage in a minor ridiculous plot to cinvince him not to marry her. When Griffin and Harriet succumb to passion at a garden party some very racy sketches appear in all the gossip rags and Aunt Prowlis is upset that he is ruining her companion's reputation. Harriet and Griffin begin to sneak away whenever possible to make love but Harriet does have plans to eventually leave. When Edlyn is kidnapped everyone's plans are thrown up in the air and everyone is distraught. Griffin enlists the help of Bow Street while Harriet revisits her former friends in London's underworld and soon everyone is out looking for the lost teenager. It is Harriet's own father back from the dead that finally solves this little mystery and Harriet and Griffin can go on with their lives and live happily ever after like the rest of the Boscastle's.
I mentioned in my previous review of Hunter's book that she has taken to writing oddly emotionless romances. Really there is no other way to describe her writing as there seemed to be nothing between these characters. She did not compensate for this by doing an amazing job of having the characters think endlessly of what the other will look like naked. Despite the lack of good ruminations and build up that usually lead to good sex scenes this book very much surprised me by having some really quite delicious sex scenes. I liked Harriet's character superficially as she was certainly interesting with quite the intriguing back ground, but she was definitely not developed enough. Griffin was really rather boring as he was not developed at all and I had no idea what he was thinking, despite the fact that a bit of the story is told from his P.O.V. There was a brief mention that Harriet fell in love with him because he was powerful and took such good care of his family but I was really hoping for a bit more in a romance novel. However I was happy she accepted his proposal the first time and it wasn't dragged on and on because she felt she wasn't worthy.
It is obvious that Aunt Primrose is supposed to be the eccentric and blunt yet lovable and fun crazy old lady of the story. Unfortunately she fails miserably on all accounts except for the bluntness and that really just makes her seem old, mean, and nasty. The big conflict in the story is supposedly that Harriet, and nasty Aunt Primrose, is worried that Griffin is going to marry horrid Lady Constance. However this is just absolute bull as from the very beginning he makes no bones about the fact that he cannot stand Constance so really there is no suspense in that direction. I was just so caught up in the fact that Harriet and Griffin were discussing marriage while Edlyn was missing that I didn't really have time to worry about what had happened to her. The dialogue was stilted at best and once again there were several instances where it was obvious Hunter thought she was writing fun banter, but it just came out flat and irritating. And have I mentioned how annoying Aunt Primrose's character was? Cause yea- I really hated her and she was such a nuisance.
Rating: Not entirely hate-able and at the very least it was short (although it was so boring it took me a week to read), but unless something very unexpected happens this is my last Jillian Hunter novel. Two atrocious books in a row definitely earns one heart.