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Monday, May 16, 2011

The Reluctant Duke by Carole Mortimer

The Reluctant Duke by Carole Mortimer
Publisher: Harlequin
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Full Length (192 pgs)
Heat Level: spicy
Rating: 4 Books
Reviewed by Xeranthemum

Lucan St. Claire refuses to take the cursed title of fifteenth Duke of Stourbridge—he wants nothing to do with his heritage, including a magnificent stately home in the English countryside. So when he's forced to return to his family's seat, he takes beautiful new personal assistant Lexie Hamilton with him for some much-needed distraction….

Only Lucan has no idea that his temporary assistant isn't quite who she seems… And by the time he finds out it will be too late!

It takes a special kind of woman to unstuff a stuffed shirt of a man and I had a fun time reading this story because the heroine had the hero twisted in knots.

In fact, I’d met Lucan before in a previous book when his brother met and married his physiotherapist. This most definitely is a standalone read because there’s only a mention in passing about Lucan’s two other brothers. A reader can sit back and enjoy this story with confidence that all the best pieces are found within. Even though I knew that Lucan, the hero, had a stiff personality, the reasons for it were only revealed through reading The Reluctant Duke. I don’t think he was reluctant as much as obstinate, adamant, thoroughly unwilling and determined not to rock the boat no matter what. Fate was laughing.

Lexie, the heroine, did all the rocking, buffeting and was practically a whirlpool of disaster for the rigid and in control Lucan. That’s why I liked her. She had a unique perspective on things and she certainly didn’t rely on Lucan for her job which put her in the position of being able to be herself in all her impulsive and spunky glory. Sure, she made a few mistakes; if one can call lies of omission a mistake, then she did a huge one. It’s how she dealt with it that made the book worth reading.

There were a few times where Lucan cracked a smile or laughed that left me scratching my head. It was cute but it didn’t make me laugh. Then again, I wasn’t falling for the hot-tempered heroine like he was and I’m used to laughing, Lucan wasn’t. He is so controlled that I think his letting go was a bit rusty. When he went a little off the wall I was treated to some serious tension. I wasn’t sure if he was going to get violent or passionate, or both. The author did a nice job of detailing a man falling apart by virtue of feeling the emotions he’s denied for so long and what happens when he no longer can deny them. How the mighty fall also made for some interesting reading.

After some sensually jerky starts to their physical romance it was a really sweet scene. I enjoyed Lexie’s reference to romance books and that Lucan didn’t act like a story book character. He’s human, has faults and didn’t always proceed the way Lexie thought he would. I like when a character can keep me guessing. However, I do feel that there was a bit too much narrative between some of the dialogue which lessened the impact of the tension or flow of the story. I ended up skimming some parts just to get back into the thick of things. It didn’t detract from the romance or make me like the story any less; I just read the book a bit faster than perhaps I otherwise would have. I thought Lexie and Lucan made a great couple.

The personal drama was well done and I was happy with how the author tied everything up. I would have loved to have been a fly on the wall when the women got together but perhaps readers will find out a bit more when Gideon, Lucan’s brother, has his story. I’m really looking forward to that.

The Reluctant Duke is a delightful and entertaining read with moments of pure fun and exciting sensual tension. I think Lucan needed a woman like Lexie and they fulfilled a promise of delayed fate. It was sweet, sexy and quite romantic and I’m glad I read it.