18 March, 2012
Review: She Tempts The Duke by Lorraine Heath
There is so very much wrong with She Tempts The Duke. I read it cover to cover. (I wish I had an Arni's to go with it. In a different location there's this cute little train that delivers drinks to the tables and... oh right. Books.) She Tempts The Duke takes a basic Beauty & the Beast plot then turns the melodrama up past eleventy. Add to that a completely wonky sense of place and a fairly stale trilogy framework. On paper, this thing is a disaster. We start with three young orphans locked in a tower awaiting their murderous uncle. (As they do) Escape presents itself and the lads scatter to the far corners of plotsville to determine their future narratives.
Our Duke, whose name I've already forgotten, joins the military and fights in a few bazillion wars, leading to his scarred and sinister appearance. He carries a bag of dirt around in his pocket so he can huff it and dream of the land he lost, the land he will reclaim, the property that not even foreclosure by murder could wrest from his hands. (Super melodrama. I am telling you.) On the way he dropped one brother off at a workhouse so he could rise through the ranks of the underworld to become a gaming hell mob lord. (Yawn.) I don't know why our young Duke thought a workhouse was a great idea. I can't imagine my go to girl Paris Hilton thinking "Hey, we totally need to drop Baron off in juvvie, that's going to work out fine." Next he sells his twin brother to a ship. Because ship captains will totally buy your brother off you, especially when the two of you are completely interchangeable. (Now we have our Pirate.) He leaves behind his childhood sweetheart. (I had to go look her name up. Mary and Sebastian, those are our young lovers.) Mary tells her dad that she thinks Sebastian's uncle might be totally evil. Her dad's response is to lock her in a convent and become an alcoholic. As you do.
Pop quiz! What's our time period?
I cannot believe how many of you got it right. YES, shortly after the marriage of Queen Victoria. God, you people are good. I had no idea. When they started talking about Vic's dress I was totally blindsided. Sebastian comes to reclaim his heritage, which happens off the canvas. He and his brothers meet back up after umpteen years apart to have their revenge. Their uncle hasn't declared them dead because he thought it might look bad to accept they aren't just missing until all of them are of legal age. Apparently with all those properties, servants and employees the suddenly missing sons of a suddenly dead Duke didn't raise any red flags before that. Days before he is to declare his spoils well won, those pesky kids show up to keep him from getting away with it. Somehow Sebastian has taken steps to "secure his inheritance" without tipping off his Uncle. I'm not sure how he did that. It was apparently really quick and easy, taking just a couple of days and no legal folk involved at all. So reclaiming his London home is just a matter of a surprise appearance, a melodramatic speech, and a call for the vile one to vacate at once. Of course Sebastian flies into a murderous rage in the process so the gentle hand of Mary can stay him.
Mary just got sprung from the nunnery herownself and is marrying up with a pretty decent guy. Lord Whoever doesn't want much, but he would appreciate it if she'd stop letting herself into Sebastian's house and charging his bedroom. Chaperones still seem pretty important too. Right, so fast forward to (huge spoiler!) Mary and Sebastian getting married. Mary is all we should totally have sex. Sebastian is all wow, sex would be great but it must be on my land because that will make it way hotter for me. Also, I'm really into total darkness. I've got body issues like woah. Mary is like, ok dude, whatever gets you going, but it's just a house. Then they fight. Then Sebastian has the sorts of emotional breakdowns you will after running away from home for like, ever and getting a shot and burned and stabbed in the process. Eventually there is a near death experience and a villain unmasked and all the rest. Then it's baby time!
*PS - Avon cracked on the Agency price with this title, so you can check it out for $5 USD instead of $8. I think that's a better price point.
*PPS - Further reflection on this title makes the choice to send the youngest brother to a workhouse even less understandable. White poverty was criminalized in a way that black poverty is today. The white poor were often sterilized, they were considered mentally deficient and innately immoral. Especially in the early Victorian age, when this sort of social judgement was picking up the steam that would eventually lead to measuring skulls and eugenic theory. I know, it's a romance but C'mon son.