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Thursday, September 22, 2011

Guest Review - - What a Duke Wants

What a Duke Wants 
By Lavinia Kent 
Publisher: Avon 
Release Date: September 27, 2011






Mark Smythe, who has recently and unexpectedly become the Duke of Strattington, is making his way to London for the coronation of George IV, stopping at inns along the way. Plagued by sleeplessness, he wanders into the stable where he overhears a husky-voiced female engaged in an interesting conversation with an unseen party. He’s disappointed to discover the woman is a nursery maid who has been commanded to take her charge outside because the baby’s crying is disturbing the duke, but caught by her beauty and by the comfort of spending time with someone who knows him only as Mark Smythe, he remains to talk with her.

Isabella Smith is tired, tired of walking a restless infant, tired of fear, and tired of running. Mark Smythe makes her feel safe. She senses that he is more than the simple man he seems, but as they meet at every opportunity and conversation turns to kisses, she begins to dream of a future with him far away from the danger that pursues her.

The duke is as attracted to Isabella as she is to him, but he knows marriage between a nursery maid and a duke is impossible. He sees her not as a wife but as a mistress. A scandal erupts when the two are found together, leading to Isabella’s discovery that Mr. Smythe is Strattington. Isabella is dismissed without a reference, and those who are hunting her are still in pursuit. Desperation and desire combine to lead her in making a choice with which she cannot be happy.

A chance meeting with an old friend offers a means of escape, only to bring her face-to-face with those she most wants to avoid. But Isabella chooses to surrender her secrets, to stop running, and to reclaim the name and identity she left behind three years earlier. Mark, too, makes choices. He chooses to accept his identity as Strattington and to exercise his power as a duke to make his dreams and Isabella’s come true.
 
What a Duke Wants is a thematically rich novel with interesting characters and sustained suspense. Watching Isabella and Mark discover significant things about one another even as they protected their secrets was a joy. I found Isabella a particularly sympathetic character. Her reasons for running away are credible, and surviving on her own given her youth and inexperience is a testament to her strength. I did have some problems with Mark. His unease with his title and his feeling that who he is as an individual has been overwhelmed by the power and responsibilities of the dukedom ring true, but I couldn’t believe that he tolerated the behavior of his valet, and I would have liked more insight into his shift about Isabella’s role in his life. I also found some scene changes abrupt and confusing.

My greatest disappointment was that Isabella’s reunion with her family was given short shrift. Her reunion with her friend gets more attention. Readers new to Kent’s books may not be bothered by this minimalist approach, but those who have read the stories of the other Masters siblings, Violet (A Talent for Sin) and Jon (Bound by Temptation) may share my disappointment. Nevertheless, those in the latter category should not miss this book. It resolves the mystery of Isabella Masters’s disappearance, and it includes some secondary characters that I hope to see again in their own stories.

~Janga

20 comments:

  1. I have WHAT A DUKE WANTS in my sights already. Look at that cover for a start.

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  2. This author and series are completely new to me, Janga, so thank you for the introduction. As I've said before, I like to read a series in order so I'm putting Lavinia Kent on my wish list based on your terrific review.

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  3. Marybelle, that cover really is an attention-grabber, isn't it? LOL I wonder if it's a harbinger of what we can expect from Avon covers in the immediate future.

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  4. Fsbuchler, I really like the series, particularly A Talent for Sin, which is an older woman-younger man story. If I like the first book in a series, I'm usually hooked because I have to know what happens to all the characters. I hope you enjoy it too.

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  5. New author. I definitely want to read this book.

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  6. Janga, great review! I like historicals with some suspense included, and I have a special weakness for secret identities, masked or not.

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  7. Thank you for the review, Janga. I was intrigued by the first part of your review and even more so after I read your disappointments with the novel. You peaked my interest even more as I want to see if I agree with your opinion. The plot sounds terrific as I have always liked the upper vs lower class love attractions. I really look forward to reading "What a Duke Wants."

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  8. Laurie, I'm always happy when someone introduces me to a new author, and so I'm glad to return the favor. :)

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  9. Thanks, Nancy. I like secret identities most of the time too. Maybe it goes back to The Scarlet Pimpernel. I think that subject merits its own post.

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  10. Connie, I hope you like WTDW, whether you agree with me or not. My disappointment was not great enough to prevent my enjoying the book. Lavinia Kent is an author who consistently reaches 4 stars or better for me.

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  11. Love the cover of this book and it sounds really good. Thanks for all the info on the book.

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  12. I haven't read any of Lavinia Kent's book yet, but this one caught my eye. I too like family connections in a book, but I suppose there is only so much that can be fully included without books getting too long.

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  13. Thanks for another insightful review, Janga! I haven't read Lavinia Kent before but this has me interested enough to give her a try.

    You said, I like secret identities most of the time too. Maybe it goes back to The Scarlet Pimpernel. I think that subject merits its own post.

    I totally agree!

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  14. Thank you Janga for another wonderful review. :-)

    Ooo-la-la for the cover, I really like it!
    I added it to my TBR list, as if I need more books on my list! LOL!

    The story sounds like something I can get into. Two different classes and all of the obstacles involved with their HEA.

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  15. Great review! I also like this Nathan Kamp cover; he has an intriguing smile.

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  17. Isn't that a great cover, Sheree? I'd buy the book for the cover alone! :)

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  18. Great review, thanks! She is a new author to me, but I'm open for new writers.

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  19. Thanks for the review, Janga. I would buy this book just so I could stare at the cover---Nathan Kamp is so delicious! :-)

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  20. she's an author new to me and I couldnt pass up the 4 99 cent deals they have on kindle.
    Are those stories related to this book? Either way it's got my interest since I too like the cover lol

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