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Wednesday, February 23, 2011

To Desire a Wicked Duke by Nicole Jordan

To Desire a Wicked Duke by Nicole Jordan
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Genre: Historical (Regency)
Length: Full Length (357 pages)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 5 books
Reviewed by Camellia

Passion ignites in Nicole Jordan’s delectable, dazzling conclusion to The Courtship Wars.

Two years after losing her beloved fiancĂ© to war, Tess Blanchard feels ready to chance love again. Thus she’s aghast when a threatening scandal forces her to wed her longtime nemesis, Ian Sutherland, Duke of Rotham. The impossibly arrogant, irresistibly seductive nobleman is the last man Tess could ever imagine loving. Making matters worse, she discovers secrets in Rotham’s wicked past that send her fleeing London for his remote castle in Cornwall.

Having long desired Tess, Ian is exasperated that the ton thinks he’s driven his reluctant new bride from their marriage bed and follows hard on her heels. Naturally, their spirited rivalry leads to glorious, pleasure-filled nights—complicated by a mysterious ghost who haunts Ian’s castle and Tess’s vexing insistence that he play matchmaker to her friends. But can blazing desire between two warring hearts turn into wedded bliss and timeless love?

Society’s rules in Regency England, during the early nineteenth century, mixed with Tess Blanchard’s desire for passion and the Duke of Rotham’s long-denied desire for Tess make a captivating romance that propels the reader along with both internal and external conflicts, humor, and an irrepressible primal connection that engenders an exquisite love.

The Duke of Rotham, known as the Devil Duke, seizes the opportunity to kiss Tess after four years of wanting her while keeping his distance. Male primal need takes control. Common sense and caution exit leaving passion, desire, and fiery need to take center stage. All his womanizing and worldly ways did not prepare the Duke for the way he feels when he kisses and caresses Tess.

Tess comes alive at his touch. The emptiness she’s felt for so long is filled with the Duke’s scent, taste, and the marvelous sensation of his mouth that feels like heated silk as it makes her melt with pleasure and wanting. His caresses make her oblivious to all else. She had experienced a youth’s love with her fiancĂ© Richard before he was killed, but she’d never felt anything like the passionate, blood sizzling demands of the Duke’s touch that makes her shiver in exhilaration.

When they are caught by Lady Wingate, Tess’s benefactor, the Duke takes control and says they will marry to save Tess’s reputation. He is well aware of the double standard in their Regency society. More than that, he already has a reputation that could hardly be degraded more—whether justified or not.

These two strong personalities, both determined to protect themselves from hurt, deal with conflicts in unique ways with each of them trying to keep the upper hand. With humor, tears, and fears, they enchant the reader with a spellbinding love that flourishes in spite of all the contrariness.

The secondary characters make entertaining, delightful additions to the untangling of what is true and what was thought to be true. They supply some unexpected twists and turns in the plot. Fanny Irwin and the Loring sisters are delightful.

Nicole Jordan brings a sparkling, fresh touch to Regency romance. Her character development makes Tess and the Duke come alive. Their depth, emotions, and steadfastness endear them to the reader.

To Desire a Wicked Duke crackles with conflicts, sizzles with sensuality, and lures the reader in with incredible love (and that love scene!) It kept me up late and I never missed the sleep.