Review: THE DANGEROUS DUKE by Christine Wells

Review: THE DANGEROUS DUKE by Christine Wells

She seeks justice. He, revenge. And they'll never guess what they'll find.

A Daring Diary

Trapped in a loveless marriage, Lady Kate Fairchild found refuge in her diary, scene of her fantasy affair. And now, even though her husband's death has set her free, no suitor can thrill Kate quite like her phantom lover – until a duke with a murky past sears her with his gaze...

A Dangerous Duke

Maxwell Brooke, Duke of Lyle, is hunting the arsonists who killed his family – and Kate's brother knows where they hide. But when jailing him proves futile, Max kidnaps Kate, demanding as ransom her brother's cooperation. Still, Max never counted on Kate's rapier wit and heated kisses – and soon, desire wars with duty, even as real danger stalks his captive lady...

A Delicious Deceit

When Kate threatens to publish a tell-all diary if her brother remains imprisoned, Max hopes to protect her from the powerful men she intends to expose. Stealing the diary, he spirits her off to a country estate. But the diary is nothing like he expected – and when Max discovers Kate's sensual secrets, he can't resist exploiting them in every way...

Publisher: Berkley

Genre: Historical Romance

Single Title/Series: THE DANGEROUS DUKE is a stand alone novel, however, secondary characters have received their own books since its publication.

Cover Thoughts: As beautifully elegant as it is romantic, I believe I'd be compelled to pick up the novel if glimpsed randomly at the book store. The setting and pose of the models are quite unique and combined with the bright shading, who could say no?

Why I Read It: I fell in love with Christine Wells and her characters after reading WICKED LITTLE GAME. Her books have the wonderful combination of dramatic emotional intensity and steaming hot physical encounters, both of which propel the plot. In fact, she reminds me greatly of Lisa Valdez and if you like one then you're bound to enjoy the other. Knowing that THE DANGEROUS DUKE showcased the main characters of Christine's recent release,SWEETEST LITTLE SIN, as secondary characters, I thought it would be helpful and fun to read it first.

My Review:

Lady Kate Fairchild is willing to go to desperate extremes in order to free her brother from prison. As the Lyle parish vicar, Stephan is accused of withholding information regarding the identities of the arsonists that burned the Duke of Lyle's seat to the ground - killing several family members. Knowing that her brother will martyr himself before revealing the names of those that Lyle seeks, for he'll surely be sending the accused to their death, Kate turns to blackmail. As the widow of a once affluent politician, Kate has mentally retained many incriminating anecdotes that could easily bring down a few members of the peerage. After exhausting all other avenues, blackmail appears to be the best and last choice, that is until she incurs the wrath of the Home Office and the Duke of Lyle himself.

Working his last mission for the Home Office due to his recent defaulted inheritance as the new Duke of Lyle, Maxwell Brooke is determined to acquire the identities of the arsonists that destroyed his ducal seat in addition to several family members - unfamiliar people to Max but nonetheless family. Determined to imprison Lady Kate's stubborn brother for as long as feasibly possible, Max hopes to hurry matters along by seducing the lady in question into convincing her brother to spill the information he so desperately seeks. However, he never anticipated his lustful but inconvenient reaction to the clever minded, gorgeous slip of a woman. Kate's quick intelligence both infuriates and fascinates Max while her sharp tongue and bald remarks ignites his temper right along side his flaming desire. Determining that Kate is entirely too smart and too desperate for her own good after revealing her plans to print a tell-all memoir, Max fears for her safety and swiftly organizes his procurement of said memoir as well as the Lady Kate herself.

Initially, Kate worries that her spotless reputation faces irreparable damage in the hands of the duke whom of which has the shocking ability to turn her sharp mind slow with lust. Never has she felt a passion this sharp, not even with her phantom lover. Sexually repressed within her loveless marriage, Kate took her pleasure in a diary that documented all her erotic fantasies. There she found solace in the arms of her made-up lover but what Max makes her feel surpasses all of her fantasies. Terrified by her rampant emotions, Kate thinks of nothing but escape until her many refusals of Max's ardor leads her straight towards a killer's embrace.

When Max's falsities for abducting Kate turns to reality and she truly does become the prey of a killer, he's convinced that his ill-timed lust prevented him from ensuring her proper protection and resolves to maintain distance. Emotional entanglements are never conducive to a successful mission but Kate's vulnerabilities and overall shock after near death propels them both into each others arms seeking comfort and release. When the details of the Kate's stolen diary reveals not the incriminating facts that she's threatened, but rather years worth of pent up sexual frustration, Max becomes convinced that his lust is to blame once again since it's obvious that he's gone about his carnal pursuits all wrong. Kate's documented her wants of a slow and sensual lover not the fierce ravishment he's subjected her to, treating her as though a common trollop. Resolving to treat Kate like her phantom lover as well as that which her station deserves, Max fights to restrain the dark possessive nature within him that demands release.

Kate, confused by Max's sudden cooling ardor, fights to build confidence and explain to him that she rather experience more of the possessive, overwhelming love making he'd originally demanded. While he still sates her every desire, somehow she's left unsatisfied. While a distance inevitably begins to expand with Max's clamped hold on his lust and Kate's fear of what his reaction will be to her dark needs, an enemy soon gains the upper hand forcing them each to face who they really are or loose each other forever.

My Thoughts:

THE DANGEROUS DUKE, while a seamless romance with a wonderfully developed hero and heroine, unfortunately became a bit overshadowed by two very interesting secondary characters. Lady Louisa, Max's sister, and Jardine, a Marquis whose connections led him to work for the Home Office, are embroiled in a thrilling game of cat and mouse. Jardine's extremely possessive nature combined with Louisa's desperation to maintain distance, soon propels the reader's own desperation to speed to the next scene containing the two. The forbidden passion and underlying current of a deep history leaves one begging for more, thus thrusting Max and Kate into the background. Jardine is one of those magnetic characters that commands full attention of the reader whenever he walks on stage. One can't help but have their eyes completely captured by his beauty, his dangerous bad-boy appeal so a warning: Be prepared to fall in love.

Unfortunately by the end, I cared little for Max and Kate but instead held bated breath between theirs and Jardine's and Louisa's scenes. It was their romance I became desperate to read and therefore sadly - yet successfully - ending my connection with Max and Kate. Their trials became trivial in the face of Jardine's and Louisa's complicated connection.

Aside from the above, I'm still in awe of Christine Wells and her unbelievable talent as a writer for she brings a distinct authenticity to her novels. Her grasp of the language, culture and rules whisks you wonderfully away to a whole other time and place. I imagine that she must toil over each and every sentence because from beginning to end, this novel is supremely polished and complete.

A wonderful diversion, THE DANGEROUS DUKE, combines thrilling action, sweet romance and two brilliant secondary characters that make it a complete pleasure from start to finish. Enjoy!


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Blodeuedd said...

Very true, I have not seen many covers like it, and I would sure pick it up

Smokinhotbooks said...

Oh, pretty cover! Reminds me of an impressionist painting.

Laurie (BittenbyParanormalRomance) said...

Great review! I love the cover.

VampFanGirl said...

:) Blodeuedd


Ooo, I agree KC!


Thanks Laurie!

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