Friday, December 21, 2012
Rules to Catch a Devilish Duke
Sophia White is the unacknowledged and illegitimate daughter of the Duke of Hennessey and his maid and as such she knows she will never have a proper marriage, or a truly respectable life. She has found employment as a card dealer at the Tantalus Club and in doing so has found the only place she has ever belonged and the only friends she has ever had. But her job has also drawn lots of attention and the Duke has decided that she will marry a man of his choosing or he will shut down the club. Loathe to do anything to hurt her friends she agrees to her father's choice, a self-righteous vicar in some far away time who has promised to dedicate his life to reforming Sophia. Before she sacrifices herself she has decided to have one last happy holiday and so accepts an invitation to spend the season at the country estate of Adam Baswhich, the Duke of Greaves. Adam invited Sophia because she is the best friend to Camille, Lady Blackwood, wife of his close friend, Lord Blackwood, and because he cannot deny that doing so will certainly create a stir among his priggish and lordly guests, especially his sister, the very proper Lady Eustace. Because of a claus in his father's will Adam must marry by his 30th birthday, in a month, or risk losing the entirety of his unentailed inheritance to Eustace's son, so he has also invited plenty of the ton's most eligible bachelorettes.
When the bridge connecting his estate to the nearest village collapses Adam and Sophia find themselves stranded together with no one but his judgmental sister and the servants for company. It does not take long before they are becoming closer than they either thought possible and even while both know that Adam cannot possibly marry Sophia, they throw caution to the wind. Adam decides that the one gift he can give Sophia is to try and get her out of her marriage to the preacher by contacting the friends her father has decided to ruin, but he continues in his search for a bride even while acknowledging that none of them will come close to Sophia. Sophia is furious when Adam offers her a position as his mistress as she believed he had come to respect her and so she decides to give up any hopes she had and begin her new life as the pastor's wife. However, Adam has no intention of letting her go and her leaving was just what he needed to realize that bucking conventions and defying everyone's expectations will be a perfect way to start the future he is determined to have with the woman he loves.
I very much enjoy reading Suzanne Enoch because she writes smooth and satisfying romances that have lots of romantic development in her story and writes characters that are easy to like and root for, and mixes some good sexiness in with it. This book was no exception and I found myself breezing through this, liking the characters and the plot, but finding myself irked by some of her more irritating elements. Sophia was very confident and self-assured, with hints of vulnerability that made her more realistic, and her dedication to her friends was admirable. Adam was reliable and fun and I loved his interactions with Sophia, but the book did make much of his little fits of temper, and while I understood I was supposed to be awed by how Sophia could sooth him, I found myself more than a little skeptical of his suitability for marriage. Sophia and Adam spent quite a bit of time together, but all of their positive interactions occurred before the rest of society intruded, and once they did their relationship tottered horribly. His quest for a bride really made me like him less, as he openly sought to begin a relationship with someone else, while refusing to give up Sophia.
There was some very steamy sex between them, but given their histories I was annoyed that it took so long for them to start sleeping together. I did not have a problem with her not being a virgin, it would have been a little too unbelievable if she had been and I admired her acceptance of her past, and I admired his acceptance of it as well. I am always irked when they is a major problem standing in the way of everyone's happiness that is easily solved and her marrying the pastor is one such issue. It was clear from the beginning that if he wanted to Adam could call in his own connections and put a stop to it, so when it dragged on for so long it became annoying and the drama it caused at the end was unnecessary and made Sophia come across as far too prideful. The end was amazingly rushed which really just served to show how ridiculous all the obstacles in their path were, as Adam took care of all of her problems with her father with just a conversation and while Sophia put up some token resistance to Adam, it really seemed to be just for show.
Rating: A very enjoyable and readable book that strained even my capacity for unrealism in romances and suffered from the easily solvable problem.