Monday, 12 March 2012

24. "She Tempts the Duke" by Lorraine Heath

Page count: 384 pages
Date begun: March 5th, 2012
Date finished: March 6th, 2012

When Sebastian Easton was fourteen, he, his twin and their younger brother were locked in a tower by their evil uncle shortly after their father, the Duke of Keswick's, funeral. They're planning their escape when rescued by Lady Mary Wynne-Jones, Sebastian's best friend and daughter of the neighbouring Earl. She overheard their uncle ordering them killed, and knocks out a guard to unlock the tower. The boys thank her, and promise to return in ten years to reclaim their heritage.

It takes twelve years, and they've been missing so long that their uncle is petitioning Parliament to have them declared dead, so he can claim the ducal title, when the three brothers make quite a dramatic entrance during one of their uncle's balls. Sebastian's been a soldier, and has horrible facial scars (and an eye patch!) after the Crimean war. His twin, Tristan, is now a successful captain, and their younger brother Rafe owns a gambling establishment in London. Their return naturally causes quite a stir, but no one is happier to see them than Lady Mary, who was sent to a convent after their disappearance (because her father wanted her out of trouble). She's determined to do whatever she can to help them back into society, heedless of the dangers to her reputation and what it may do to her engagement.

It's obvious that Mary loves Sebastian and has never forgotten him. He, of course, is scarred both physically and emotionally, and refuses to acknowledge that he may love her too, and keeps trying to push her away, even as she defies popular convention to assist him. Can the lost Lords of Pembrook prove their uncle tried to steal their inheritance, and get their revenge? Can Mary make Sebastian love her, and accept that she doesn't find him repulsive despite his scars?

While I really did like Mary, and especially the depiction of her relationship with her cousin and aunt (who is awesome and clearly wants Mary happy no matter what scandals it may lead to), and I liked Sebastian's relationship with his brothers a lot, the main romance in this book left a lot to be desired. Sebastian is just too caught up in his broodiness and conviction that his facial scarring makes him repulsive to everyone else. He keeps comparing himself to Tristan, who's obviously still very handsome, and it gets old really fast. While it's obvious that Mary's first fiancee is wrong for her, I'm not sure she was better off with "oh woe is me" Sebastian either. He does of course change his mind in the end, but still seems like a bit of a gloomy stick in the mud. I'm much more looking forward to Tristan and Rafe's romances, they both seem more promising.

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