Saturday, May 19, 2012

The Duke's Perfect Wife

The Duke's Perfect Wife by Jennifer Ashley

Lady Eleanor Ramsey was engaged to Hart Mackenzie, a future Duke, but was forced to call of the engagement when his former mistress revealed that there was a dark side to him that he was not telling her. She realized that Hart was primarily selfish and thought only of his own needs and desires, but even though she left him, she kept him in her heart. So when someone starts to send her nude pictures of Hart she wants to get to the bottom of it before the person exposes him just as Hart is poised to make a run for Prime Minister. Hart had not expected to see Eleanor again but realizes that it is perfect timing as he had been planning to take a wife and Eleanor would be a great political companion and he remembers how perfect they had been. Eleanor was the one person Hart trusted with his secrets, like his father killing his mother and his brother, Ian witnessing it and being thrown into a mental institution and Hart's own fight to keep from becoming like his father. He accepts her help really intending to make her his wife, but Eleanor is just as determined to not fall for Hart's charm again.

Eleanor throws herself into finding out who has the nude pictures of Hart and repeatedly finds herself admiring said naked pictures and remembering what it was like to make love to him. Hart worries that Eleanor's quest will lead her to discover the darkness in him that he wants to keep hidden. It is obvious that Hart is different in bed than most of the men of the ton and ladies speak about his prowess in whispers while men seek him out for advice and help. Eleanor does not know what these hidden facets are but she wants to find out and knows that the only way for her and Hart to move forward is for him to be completely honest. In his attempt to derail Gladstone's coalition government Hart opposes and Irish home rule bill that makes him a target of Irish independents and several attempts on his life are made. Hart cannot risk Eleanor getting hurt just as the two of them are working through their problems and possibly starting a new, more honest relationship. He is just as determined to protect her as she is to protect him but even aside from their outside threats, Hart's own secrets will prove the biggest obstacle to their happily ever after.

Eleanor was sassy and spunky and certainly jumped into her self appointed assignment of finding out who sent the nude pictures of Hart. The thing I admired the most about her is her dedication to her absentminded father and how cute and fun their relationship was. I thought the picture thing a little ridiculous and couldn't understand why she felt like she should be in charge of finding the pictures since Hart didn't really seem to care. I also could not understand what she found so likable about Hart as he was rather cold and distant and kind of took advantage of people, even if he thought he was doing it for their own good. Hart was certainly the strong, dark, brooding type as he directed the little people all around him because he knew what was best for them. I will admit his past was certainly haunted since his father was a grade A asshole but he was completely driven to be prime minister and the only real hint of a reason we were given was his future hope for Scottish home rule. It seemed a little far fetched. They spent quite a bit of time together and I did like how their relationship evolved beyond merely loving each other because of their past together.

Their previous relationship was brought up a lot but the reason behind their breakup was really poorly explained as Eleanor wasn't upset about his mistress, but about his "darkness" in the sexual arts. This is a recurring problem for me in Jennifer Ashley books as she constantly hints about how scandalous and sexual her male characters are and it ends up being sexy enough but not anything to merit all the worry. This book was even worse then usual as his "dark" side was the cause of much anxiety among both of them and even I started to buy into the hype wondering what was so exciting and secret. Needless to say I was incredibly disappointed and thought the whole build up was ridiculous and ended up being a complete let down. Hart's political career was a big part of the book but I found that I didn't really enjoy reading about it and I felt like it was a side story instead of a well integrated part of their romance. Past characters make frequent appearances, which I don't mind since they're family and it's done in a subdued but important manner. What I didn't like was that Ian ended up being my favorite hero in this novel when I was supposed to be thinking about Hart.

Rating: A big let down all around with totally unrealistic characters, the very disappointing secret, and a hero who's brother overshadowed him.

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