Title: What the Duke Desires (Duke's Men)
Classification: Adult Fiction
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: Duke's Men
Format: Paperback: 416 pages
Publisher: Pocket Books (June 18, 2013)
Author's Website: http://www.sabrinajeffries.com/
Notes: I bought the kindle version, borrowed an audio version from the library, and received a signed copy at RWA. I should also confess I love Ms. Jeffries' books so much I volunteered to be on her street team. So yes, I highly recommend her books.
Once upon a time a little girl grew up with parents unmarried. Her father was a man who promised much, but never followed through. He promised to marry her mother one day. He promised to send her to school. He promised to take her riding. He promised to take care of them, but he always put off till tomorrow what he should have done today; until one day the man ran out of tomorrows and the little girl grew up knowing what a man's promises were truly worth--absolutely nothing. So she grew up knowing the only one who would truly look out for her was herself and vowed never to let herself fall under the thumb of a man like her mother had. Never to put her fate in the hands of another because she knew that the making of a promise didn't automatically guarantee that it would be kept. She was determined to avoid marriage at all costs.
Once upon a time there was a little boy who lived in fear that he would one day go quite mad. His father and great uncle had, and he'd watched his mother, who had loved his father dearly, pay the price. He'd vowed he'd never do that to someone he loved and would, therefore, never marry for love, if he ever married at all. He believed his family cursed and steeled himself for a very lonely and loveless existence.
Over the years the boy grew into a handsome dashing young Duke and the little girl grew into a smart and beautiful young woman. Then one day the Duke met the young woman, and try as they might, everything changed...
This was such a fun story. I read it and then listened to the audio version and absolutely adored Lisette. She is strong and independent yet still very feminine. She's loyal, a touch naive, and a bit mischievous. As I listened to the audio version, an image of Audrey Hepburn, one of my all time favorite actresses, came to mind. Corrie James did an excellent job of narrating the book and managed to create several different feminine and masculine voices giving it the feel that a full cast of individuals had been engaged allowing one to easily lose one's self within the story.
After what her mother and family went through upon her father's death, Lisette intends never to marry. She believes men are unreliable and too quick to make promises they may or may not keep. Her father's lack of delivering on his promises altered the course of her life in such a way that she hasn't truly forgiven or forgotten. As her mother had to take care of their family single-handedly, she believes she can survive without a man to lean on as well. Plus, her half-brother (her father's legitimate heir) George's betrayal when he denied his siblings their inheritance and refused to acknowledge her or her brother as being family further soured her on men. It's her indifference to men and marriage that makes her bolder and more forthright than the average woman of the day. When something bothers her, she lets a person know. She dreams one day to become an investigator for either her half brother Dominick, the youngest legitimate son who was also cut off from the family fortune by his eldest brother, or for the man who her brother Tristan worked for in France.
Max is a very honorable, noble, stubborn, and infuriating (in Lisette's eyes) man. His family's history of madness makes some view him as they would a leper, but his fortune and status in society still makes him the target of those who covet such things. When he receives a note from Lisette's brother, Tristan, stating he may have found the Duke's long lost older brother, he fears another gold digger has come a calling at his door. The thought is strengthened when Tristan doesn't show up to the assigned meeting spot. Infuriated and determined not to be the victim of another con artist Max seeks out Tristan at his brother Dominick's townhouse where he finds Lisette. He's convince Tristan is up to no good. Lisette is convinced he's innocent and together they set out to find the only person who can prove one of them correct, that being Tristan who resides in Paris.
Overall, I gave this one 5 out of 5 roses. I adored witnessing the battle of wills between Max and Lisette as they fought for what they wanted. I loved how each had preconceived notions about the other that had to be broken down before they could see the other person as they truly were. Plus, I enjoyed the warm humor which can always be found sewn into the fabric of each of Ms. Jeffries' tales leaving me with a grin on my face and a smile in my eyes. On the Lisarenee Romance rating scale, this one receives a STEAM rating--too hot for a fan, but you still have a handle on things. You should use extreme caution when reading a book with this rating in public. People may inquire as to why you looked flustered and flushed. It should be noted this one leaned quite strongly towards getting a SHOWER rating. :) This one is definitely going on my keeper shelf.