Although this Regency Romance,What a Devilish Duke Desire, has an interesting premise, the author, Vickie Dreiling fails to deliver.
This is book three of the Sinful Scoundrel series and our hero, Harry Norcliffe, the Duke of Granfield, finds himself the only bachelor left from amongst his two happily married friends. Harry has just inherited his title, after the death of his dear uncle, and is having problems reconciling his sudden elevation in status. Individuals who formerly wouldn’t give him the time of day are now fawning all over “his eminence”. Harry is lonely and thinks maybe a mistress might take his mind off of his troubles, an expense which was beyond his means prior to his inheritance. Instead, while rescuing a damsel in distress, he meets an intriguing young lady to occupy his time. Lucy Longmore must hold down numerous part time domestic jobs in order to support herself and her blind grandmama. After her mother’s death, her father literally drank them out of house and home, and with his demise she found herself forced to work for a living. Ultimately, Lucy would like to own her own dance studio to teach others the intricate dance steps required by the haut monde.
Harry is intrigued by Lucy’s manner and obvious gentile upbringing and wonders why she must work at demeaning, low paying jobs, such as maid service at a men’s residence or serving lemonade at Almacks. As Harry finds himself drawn to Lucy, he becomes more involved with her life and vows to protect her from harm. Both feel an instant attraction which turns into love, but since there is such a disparity in their status, the chance of a successful relationship is nil. The simple things Harry does to help Lucy also puts her in a compromising position, and once a reputation is ruined, it is almost impossible to find gainful employment. Add in a dance competition and an evil man out for revenge and there is the plot for this novel.
So what went wrong with the book? The question is what went right? The dialogue is stilted and just plain boring, even without the constant repetition of words and thoughts. The main characters are foolish and selfish in their behaviors, neither is a sympathetic character. The supporting players are one dimensional. In fact the only one who is complex is Harry’s mother, but that is simply because her actions and seeming motivations are inconsistent. The author also expects us to suspend common sense with some of the plot. I had so many questions, such as why Lucy didn’t try to get a job as a governess or lady companion. And why was Harry formerly living in poverty when he had a well to do uncle and a mother who seemed quite well off. Shouldn’t he have been receiving a quarterly allowance from either or both sources?
Even if you suspend common sense, there is no witty repartee, just a horny man successfully seducing an innocent, right under her grandmama’s nose. Yes, his intent was marriage, but his actions literally made Lucy into the mistress that society condemns. I’m sorry, the feelings of romance just didn’t come through.
Boring, unrealistic, even sordid, this book was a disappointment on more than one level. Hopefully the other books in the series were a bit livelier in content. Only two stars.
I wish to thank Netgalley and Forever Books for this ARC in exchange for an honest review.