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Monday, November 1, 2010

Unfinished Business With the Duke by Heidi Rice

Unfinished Business With the Duke by Heidi Rice
Publisher: Harlequin
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Full Length (187 pgs)
Heat Level: spicy
Rating: 4 books
Reviewed by Xeranthemum

Long ago Issy Helligan lost her virginity to gorgeous aristocratic rebel Giovanni Hamilton. Then he left without a backward glance and Issy was heartbroken.…

Now, years later, she's doing just fine. Well, perhaps performing singagrams is not her first-choice career, but needs must. But now who should be there to bear witness to her humiliation? Gio Hamilton, now a duke and more gorgeous than ever. He steps into the fray, rescues her, ravishes her senseless and offers to solve all her money worries. There'll be no ""forever"" with this guy, so is he too good to be true…or simply too delicious to refuse?

If a reader likes stories about second chances then this book is going to hit all the happy buttons.

Right off the bat I knew this wasn’t going to be a typical spurned woman romance because of how the hero rushed to the heroine’s rescue. The fires may be banked from years apart but they are certainly simmering getting ready to boil over, they just need the right prod.

Issy carries the weight of the world on her back and is willing to do what needs to be done to save her friends and her livelihood but it’s not enough. I got a sense that Issy has a huge chip on her shoulder called responsibility. She has pride, integrity and some unfinished business from her past. The last part totally sideswiped her when Gio, the man from her past suddenly becomes part of her present and Issy has to make some serious decisions fast. I think anger drives her to make the choice but not only that, the ‘what-if’s’ would haunt her forever if she didn’t take the impossible chance handed to her by Gio. I also get the sense that although she’s matured and gone on with her life, there’s this little piece of her that has held out for Gio and when they meet it comes across akin to her younger self. That part too needs to grow up and meet her hero in the here and now. She eventually does and it’s quite spicy.

Gio is a self made man with a warped sense of relationships. He’s not the pretty picture of a tortured hero that Issy painted him all those years ago – it’s much darker than that. He, too, has a piece inside of him stuck in the past. It’s certainly affected his decisions and not all of them on the personal front have been smart. He thinks he did what he did to protect Issy but that’s not exactly true. A reader finds out that it is a lot more complicated and it has a way of tugging the heartstrings. I also enjoyed the way Gio fell for Issy all over again but continued to lie to himself about his motives. He’s a conflict all on his own.

The turnaround is condensed in one word – family. I think that is what warmed my heart the most in this whole story. Issy ripped a band-aid right off of Gio’s internal wounds and he had no choice but to deal with the fallout. He’s lucky that she is so intuitive and I personally think that was because she really does love him. The pace of the romance picked up from there with lots of juicy emotion and passion to fuel the fast flipping of pages.

The epilogue is a bit of a mix. Yes, it ties up the loose ends nicely and it was both humorous and interesting. However, I found the delivery to be a mixture of telling with a smattering of showing thrown in. It doesn’t actually detract from the story but it was a change in the storytelling voice and I noticed that.

Unfinished Business With the Duke is a delightful and engaging romance bringing two people back together with a healing love. The romance travels a rocky road for a bit as all enjoyable ones do, and the secondary characters provide the pushes and prods that keep the plot motivated. That’s what makes it so interesting. I’m glad I read this book and it should appeal to readers who enjoy stories of couples who made mistakes when they were younger, for whatever reason, and get a second chance at true happiness. It’s romance.