Sunday, May 15, 2011

A Duke's Temptation

A Duke's Temptation by Jillian Hunter 509

Lily Boscastle is in London for the first time and plans to enjoy herself as she is accompanied by her cousin, Chloe, and her fiance, Jonathan Grace. Together they all attend a literary masquerade where Chloe encourages her to be a little dangerous and flirt with the handsome Samuel Charles Aubrey St. Aldwyn, Duke of Gravenhurst. Samuel finds Lily beautiful and enjoys their flirtation in the garden and decides that he would like to see much more of Lily, especially when he discovers she is a huge fan of the Wickbury novels. The Wickbury novels are immensely popular throughout London for their good versus evil and the beautiful heroine at the center of everything, but what no one knows is that Samuel is actually the author. He is upset to discover later that Lily is already engaged and finds that he cannot get her off his mind. Shortly before her wedding Lily accompanies Jonathan to a party and witnesses him shooting a man and while everyone believes she is imaging things, she calls off the wedding and decides to enter service. Samuel has not been able to get Lily out of his mind so he is, of course, the aristocrat who offered her a place to work.

He decides to play the part of one of his characters and "kidnaps" her on a wild carriage ride across the moors, and is genuinely shocked that she does not appreciate his acting out of her favorite novels. Once at his house Lily discovers that Samuel keeps a very odd residence, with a very private East wing that no one is allowed to enter and very friendly servants who have no qualms telling their master what is what. Lily fits right in and the more time they spend together, Samuel reaffirms that Lily is the woman for him and decides that he should let her know his big secret. Once he tells her that he is Lord Anonymous, Lily wonders why it took her so long to figure out and she is more than happy to help him and his servants act out scenes and work through his writer's block. It helps that he finally has her in his bed where he has wanted her since they first met. Things begin to be so clear for both of them until someone involved in the shooting that Lily witnessed, resurfaces and begins making threats. Samuel is terrified that something will happen to Lily and he will do anything to protect her. Their happily ever after will come with a price and though things may never be perfect they will work together to make anything possible.

I know that I said I would never read another Jillian Hunter after the disasters of her last two books, but she is so convenient to buy and I always look at how short her books are and think that I should give it a try since it won't waste too much of my time. I did like Lily at first because she was the naive country relation who was looking for a good time in London and she certainly succeeded in finding it. Over time she began to wear on me because it seemed like she could never decide what she wanted, her mind changed constantly, and she did nothing for me. I could not understand how she was able to be a housekeeper with no training and no experience, even in such an eclectic household. Samuel was another blah, except he was an insane blah because there were times that he did not seem to distinguish himself from one of his characters. It was one thing to act out what he had written, or do a little fantasy role play, but sometimes he really did genuinely believe that he was his characters or he at least got far too into the pretend play. Maybe I am more interested in female writers, but I had no interest whatsoever in his writing and it seemed like his novel played a more important role than their relationship.

Their relationship progressed awkwardly from the party where they met to him almost immediately deciding that she was the one and deciding that hiring her as a housekeeper would be a good idea. They did not really spend much time together, or at least not much time I considered quality time. There was a lot of chatter about nothing important, talking around important issues, and weird "banter" about his books both before and after she knew he was the author. Suddenly he knew he wanted to marry her and she agreed, and while he saw her as the person who would be both his muse and his reality check, I did not really see what she saw in him except for his writing. I also had issues with the fact that she accepted that there would be times when he abandoned her for his writing and indeed, in the brief epilogue, we got a little taste of this. There was plenty of sex between them, but it was not hot at all, and was often filled with play from his stories which I definitely did not like. The bizarre little plot where she witnessed a murder had potential but ended up completely fizzling and being ridiculously easily solved. I was hoping for some jealousy/ angst between Samuel and her former fiance but none was forthcoming.

Rating: Another stinker from Hunter with interesting, if not entirely likable characters, and craziness that I just could not enjoy in the book. At least it was short.

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