The Duke of Seduction, an all-new historical romance from USA Today bestselling author Darcy Burke is LIVE!
Lady Lavinia Gillingham prefers rocks and dirt to marriage. Her passion is science, and she’s determined to marry if—and only if—she finds a man who supports her interests and intellect. So far, she’s managed to avoid attention on the Marriage Mart, but when the Duke of Seduction pens anonymous letters singing her praises, she suddenly become the toast of the ton and matrimony seems imminent.
William Beckett, Marquess of Northam possesses the reputation of a rake, but is secretly a romantic. Spurned at sixteen, he doesn’t expect to feel the sting of Cupid’s bow a second time, and yet he’s able to woo the coldest of hearts with the anonymous words he publishes. As the Duke of Seduction, he uses his skill to help Lavinia, never anticipating she has no desire for assistance. While Lavinia is pursued by several suitors, Beck is the one who is seduced when he learns that love can strike twice…
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The room wasn’t overly large, and it was—seemingly—empty. It also wasn’t terribly well lit, with a low fire burning in the grate and a pair of sconces flickering on the wall on either side of the fireplace.
She was either beneath the desk or behind the curtain. He couldn’t see the underside of the desk from the door. It wasn’t a pedestal as Lord Evenrude’s had been.
Circling around, he saw no one hiding there. That left the draperies on the window. He moved to the far wall and instantly noted the slight lump behind the blue damask. Moving forward, he reached for the fabric but hesitated before he pushed it aside. What if it wasn’t her?
The fabric moved, and she bared her face. “You found me.” Her dark gaze registered surprise. “Oh, it’s you!”
“Are you still looking for a place to hide?”
She reached for his lapel and held the drapery wide, pulling him into the darkness beside her. “He’ll be done counting shortly. If he isn’t already.”
“I should probably hide somewhere else,” he said, though he was loath to move. Ensconced in the dark with Lavinia, he was acutely aware of her heat and the intoxicating scent of lilies and honeysuckle.
“Yes, I suppose you should.” She turned toward him, and they were so close, her breasts brushed against his chest. “Sorry,” she murmured.
God, he wasn’t. He was only sorry he had to leave.
“Before you go, I wanted to thank you again for the fossils.” She whispered, her breath tickling his neck as she spoke. “I can’t stop looking at them. They’re absolutely extraordinary. I hope I have reason to visit Devon one day so I can hunt for my own.”
“I hope you do too. Consider yourself welcome at Waverly Court any time.”
“That’s very kind of you.”
He heard the smile in her voice and resisted the urge to run his fingers over her mouth so he could feel the curve of her lips. He really should go—
But first, he wanted to ask her something. “Do you know the Duchess of Kendal?”
“Yes, but not well. Fanny’s sister is a good friend of hers. Why?”
Why indeed. Beck wanted to enlist Lavinia’s help to see if the Duchess might be able to help him learn who SW and DC might be. However, if the Duchess had been part of a scandal, she might prefer to leave those memories in the past. Furthermore, he wasn’t sure he should include Lavinia in any of this.
And yet, he found he simply couldn’t resist. “Do you know what happened with the Duchess when she was out in Society—maybe sixteen years ago? The Duke mentioned something, and I was curious. Because my sister was out at the same time.” He added the last because he felt he had to share a reason for his inquiry. Still, he hated bringing Helen up since he didn’t want to answer too many questions about her, particularly regarding her fate.
“She was compromised. A gentleman—I can’t remember who—wooed her. They were caught kissing, and he refused to marry her. She was ruined. It was horrible because it wasn’t even her fault. It’s so unfair. Men can kiss whomever they want, and women are blamed for any indiscretion.”
“The key is to not get caught. It sounds as though this gentleman was rather inept.”
“Are you saying it was his fault?” She sounded surprised. “Most would argue they were at least both to blame.”
“Certainly she retains some culpability, but a decent gentleman would ensure they could kiss and not get caught.”
“And how would they do that?” Something in her tone changed. Her voice lowered, and it felt as though she’d moved just a hair closer.
If he leaned just a tiny bit forward, he was sure he’d feel her breasts again. God, how he wanted to. “They might hide themselves behind a drapery in the library.”
Beck’s cock lengthened and grew stiff as the air around them heated. “Probably not. In that case, someone is actually looking to find them.”
“And yet here we are.” Her voice had changed again, going nearly breathless.
“Yes, here we are.”
“Are you going to, then?” she asked, her breasts grazing his chest as she edged herself against him. “Kiss me.”
“By God, I think I am.”
Maybe my favorite of the series (so far)!
From the first few chapters, this one felt a bit different from the others–we’ve moved on from the initial core of characters (though they’re still showing up occasionally; Nora and Titus from book one– The Forbidden Duke –play a crucial role here), and each chapter begins with a snippet of poetry written by Beck, the hero. Lady Lavinia, the heroine, has a brand new set of friends who will undoubtedly feature in future books (woot!) as will at least one of Beck’s friends. Right from the beginning, the novel was a comforting combination of series old and new.
And then you really got into the story of this one…and…wow.
I liked Lavinia a whole lot from the start–she’s a strong heroine who knows what she wants out of life and has a really good heart. She’s quick to stand up for herself and her friends, but doesn’t act overly impulsively (with perhaps a few tiny exceptions, when she finds herself in a closed/isolated spot with Becky, of course… ;)) As a scientist, though, she also has a strong grip on reality, and when love looks like it might not be a reality for her she moves on to prioritizing what she needs out of a future relationship against what would be nice to have as she looks over her perspective spouses–which was heartbreaking to see, even as I had to respect her practicality.
Of course it wasn’t necessary in the end, because–Beck!
Beck (you people have no idea how hard it is to stop typing before adding a “y” to his name, LOL) is a wonderful hero. I enjoyed him from the beginning–his heart is in the right place as the Duke of Seduction, and he truly gets upset when he finds out that some of the women he’s written about neither wanted nor appreciated his “help” and tries to figure out what he can do to fix things. When we really get drawn into his story, though? OMG, I can’t even. His backstory and motivation really add so much to this story. Watching him struggle with depression (he refers to it as his “darkness”) and the grief he felt over the loss of his family was heartbreaking, and seeing Lavinia recognize, accept it, and help him work through it is wonderful.
I’m not going to lie. There were tears in my eyes for much of the last 10% of the book. So good!
As with the other series books, The Duke of Seduction would work well as a standalone. Some other series characters do pop up in the book, but if you don’t know (or don’t remember) their stories, no worries–any details you need to know are given here.
Can’t wait for the next book in the series 🙂
Rating: 4 1/2 stars / A
I voluntarily reviewed an Advance Reader Copy of this book.
Darcy Burke is the USA Today Bestselling Author of sexy, emotional historical and contemporary romance. Darcy wrote her first book at age 11, a happily ever after about a swan addicted to magic and the female swan who loved him, with exceedingly poor illustrations. Join her reader club at http://www.darcyburke.com/readerclub. A native Oregonian, Darcy lives on the edge of wine country with her guitar-strumming husband, their two hilarious kids who seem to have inherited the writing gene, two Bengal cats and a third cat named after a fruit.
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