The Duke of Her Desire
by Sophie Barnes
Series: Diamonds in the Rough
Genre: Adult Historical Romance
Publisher: Avon Books
Publication Date: December 26, 2017
He was only supposed to keep an eye on his friend’s sister . . . now he’s about to lose his heart . . .
When Thomas Heathmore, Duke of Coventry, agrees to steer his friend’s inexperienced younger sister through society, he doesn’t expect the lady in question to be so infernally stubborn. Amelia Matthews seems to have little interest in balls or suitors at all. Instead, she intends to open a school, and against his better instincts, Thomas offers to help. Yet somewhere along the line, Amelia ceases to be a simple responsibility . . . and becomes an undeniable temptation.
Since her brother inherited a dukedom, Amelia’s prospects have transformed. But though she’s long been secretly infatuated with Thomas, she refuses to heed the arrogant aristocrat’s advice. If only it were as easy to ignore his heated touch. And as Amelia soon learns, the ton is a minefield, where one moment’s indiscretion can unleash a scandal—or entice her to surrender everything to the duke of her desire . . .
Huntley House, London, 1818
When Thomas Augustus Heathmore, 3rd Duke of Coventry, came to call at Huntley House one Monday morning, the last thing he expected was to find the Duke of Huntley’s sister, Lady Amelia, sprawled on her backside in the wet grass.
And yet that was precisely what happened, thanks to a bit of serendipitous timing. Because he’d actually been heading toward Huntley’s study. Except the French doors at the end of the hallway stood open, allowing him to hear Huntley’s youngest sister, Lady Juliette, shout, “Careful!” at precisely the right moment.
It was the sort of warning that could not, nay, should not, be ignored, so it was only natural for him to walk past the study where Huntley’s butler, Pierson, stopped to knock, and continue on through the French doors to the garden.
“Oh my goodness!” Juliette exclaimed. Her eyes met his from behind a beam of muted sunlight that sifted through between the branches of a nearby elm. His gaze swept sideways, falling directly on Lady Amelia just as she turned to stare up at him. Her eyes widened a fraction, filling with something he could not define, before looking away as she pushed herself up off the ground.
He felt the edge of his mouth twitch with amusement. “I see you’re putting your sister-in-law’s advice to good use.”
Lady Amelia rewarded his comment with a glare, which was unsurprising, considering the Duchess of Huntley had been trying to teach Lady Amelia proper comportment for the past month.
Having spent most of their lives in the slums of St. Giles, Raphe Matthews, the Duke of Huntley, and his sisters, Amelia and Juliette, had found their lives turned upside down when their brother had inherited his title. Since their arrival in Mayfair, they had all been doing their best to adjust themselves to Society’s expectations, which as Thomas understood it, had not been easy.
“Is it not fashionable for young ladies to have grass stains on their skirts?” Lady Amelia inquired in a dry tone. She swiped her hands against her gown, leaving streaks of moisture and dirt upon the white muslin.
“Not as far as I am aware,” Thomas replied. Looking her over, he couldn’t help but sigh at her messy appearance. “I trust you are unharmed?”
She gave a slight nod, prompting a chestnut curl to drop dramatically over her forehead. It bobbed in front of her hazel eyes until she blew it aside with a puff of air. “Quite,” she muttered.
“Well then.” He shifted his gaze to Lady Juliette, who appeared to be admiring the roses with great intensity, before addressing Lady Amelia once more. “That is the most important thing.” He paused, observing how flushed her cheeks had gotten, before he asked, “Will you tell me what happened?”
A moment passed before she pointed toward some branches in a nearby tree. “I was returning a fallen nest and ended up losing my balance.”
He nodded. Of course that was what she’d been doing. She was invariably compelled to help the less fortunate creatures of the world. According to her brother, she’d taken in several stray cats, for which he’d since been forced to find new homes. “You should probably have asked the gardener to assist you,” he said. After all, climbing trees would not improve her reputation. Especially since the garden shared a fence with Green Park, and anyone strolling along the nearest path might witness her unorthodox behavior.
“Of course.” She crossed her arms, and he wondered if he ought to say something more.
After all, what sort of friend would he be if he didn’t offer his honest opinion? He pondered that thought for a moment and finally told her, “I would also suggest you remove those twigs from your hair and put yourself to rights. It will be calling time soon.”
I really liked the first book in the series, A Most Unlikely Duke, and was looking forward to the sisters’–Amelia and Juliette’s–stories. The Duke of Her Desire, Amelia’s book, was readable, but it just didn’t quite have the zing that Raphe’s story did.
I liked the older brother’s best friend element of the story, and Amelia’s feeling like a fish out of water made her easy to identify with. It felt believable that Amelia would fall for Thomas first, and that he’d take a little bit more effort to bring around. Their chemistry was decent, but not off-the-charts amazing. I did like that once again Ms. Barnes had the two wait to finally sleep together–a refreshing change!
The suspense part of the plot, tied to the charitable endeavor Amelia is working on, felt a bit tacked on at times–and wasn’t really resolved entirely satisfactorily in the end. I suspect that individual might play a part in Juliette’s book, maybe? Overall, I liked this book, but didn’t love it–you can still sign me up for book three, though ( The Illegitimate Duke) because I do want to see what’s in store for the youngest sibling.
Rating: 3 1/2 stars / C+
I voluntarily reviewed an Advance Reader Copy of this book.
About Sophie Barnes:
Born in Denmark, SOPHIE BARNES spent her youth traveling with her parents to wonderful places all around the world. She’s lived in five different countries, on three different continents, and speaks Danish, English, French, Spanish and Romanian. But, most impressive of all, she’s been married to the same man three times-in three different countries and in three different dresses. When she’s not busy dreaming up her next romance novel, Sophie enjoys spending time with her family, swimming, cooking, gardening, watching romantic comedies and, of course, reading. Visit Sophie Barnes at www.SophieBarnes.com. You can also find her on Facebook and Twitter (@BarnesSophie).
Win a paperback copy of the series’ first book, A MOST UNLIKELY DUKE. Enter giveaway here!
GIVEAWAY TERMS & CONDITIONS: Open to US shipping addresses only. Three winners will receive a paperback copy of A Most Unlikely Duke by Sophie Barnes. This giveaway is administered by Pure Textuality PR on behalf of Avon Romance. Giveaway ends 1/5/2018 @ 11:59pm EST. Avon Romance will send the winning copies out to the winner directly. Limit one entry per reader and mailing address. Duplicates will be deleted.