It is a truth universally acknowledged that a wicked duke who has gambled away his fortune must be in want of an heiress.
Scarred by a dark secret, Brandan Delamar, Duke of Westbury, must concede his misdeeds have finally caught up with him. With five younger sisters to support, he must marry for money.
Sunny and steadfast, Viola Beaton is no heiress. As music instructor to the duke’s sisters, she’s developed a genuine affection for the bright young ladies. Unfortunately, she’s also developed a forbidden passion for her wildly attractive employer.
It must be the way he inspires her to compose sonatas about moonlight and kisses. Or how his gaze smolders and lingers on her skin. Or because he makes her heart whisper impossible things.
When Westbury decrees that he’ll choose not only a bride, but grooms for his sisters, Viola can’t allow him to curtail their freedom. She strikes a bargain: if he allows his sisters to attend the Season, Viola will chaperone them and keep them safe from scandal.
Only…what if Viola and the duke are the ones most likely to cause a scandal?
The first word that comes to mind when I think of this book is "sparkling." That's not to say it doesn't also contain emotional depth. It does. In fact, there are many layers to the story. But the overwhelming feeling I got while reading it was joy. There's an effervescence to Bell's writing that keeps me smiling, and eagerly turning pages from start to finish, secure in the knowledge that I'm in for a humorous, witty, heartfelt, hopeful, sparkling, steamy, romantic ride.
Viola and West are characters who engaged my emotions almost immediately. My heart ached for what West had endured at his father's hand during his childhood. I almost didn't blame him for the course he took when he vowed to be the most wicked duke in London. I rejoiced when he proved to not be beyond redemption, having been first awaked by his sisters' (five of them!) predicament then guided onto the right path by their music teacher, Miss Viola Beaton. Of course, I also rejoiced when he kept a bit of that wickedness in reserve to share with our (not so) prim and proper miss.
Viola was an absolute delight and a bit of a surprise. She had hidden layers that I was not expecting but that were oh, so enjoyable. I loved how she went toe-to-toe with West even as her crush on him caused her to flutter and stammer. I loved the role music played in her life and how the author used it in a variety of scenes. I loved how adamant she was in support of his sisters...and everyone else, actually. It was satisfying to watch her finally stand up for herself. That's when the fun really started. The wicked fun.
These two are so good together. I loved their banter, how they each slowly revealed their layers to the other, how they brought out the best in one another. The love scenes were steamy, organic, and so much fun. I imagine much laughter in their bedroom...in all the rooms. They've become one of my favorite Lenora Bell couples. I have no doubt that I will visit their story again.
If you're a fan of books by Julia Quinn or Tessa Dare and have not yet discovered Lenora Bell, I encourage you to give her a try. Duke Most Wicked would be a great place to begin.
Have you read Lenora Bell?
Do you have a favorite of her books?
Do you enjoy a wicked hero who is (somewhat) tamed by the heroine? We don't want them to lose all that wicked fun, do we? ;-)
One randomly chosen person who posts a comment before 11:00 PM, December 4 will receive a signed copy of Duke Most Wicked from PJ.
One randomly chosen person who posts a comment before 11:00 PM, December 4 will receive a special prize package from Lenora Bell. The package includes:
*Signed copy of Duke Most Wicked
*Round sticker and bookmark
*Pearl hair pin
*Copy of the Yuletide Carol from the book (written and composed by Lenora's mother)