Maximilian Cale, the Duke of Lyons, accepted long ago that his kidnapped brother was dead. When a cryptic note from investigator Tristan Bonnaud claims otherwise, Max seeks out Tristan’s sister, Lisette—and is infuriated to learn that Tristan has also mysteriously vanished. Have the siblings perpetrated an elaborate hoax? Or is the fiercely protective beauty as innocent as she claims them to be?
Fearful that the powerful duke will destroy Tristan’s career in his zeal for the truth, the clever Lisette convinces Max to accompany her to Paris in a joint search for their loved ones. But their journey takes a seductive twist when they pose as an ordinary husband and wife—not an English duke with a tarnished family name and the illegitimate daughter of a viscount—and discover an exhilarating passion free from the damning secrets of the past. With the line between danger and desire enticingly blurred, they discover that some mysteries, like those of the heart, are answered tenfold in the bliss of a true and trusting love.
In the past couple of months I’ve read four Sabrina Jeffries books. Two from around 2002, and the two in her most recent series.
Here’s the (not all that common) thing about this author: the ‘new’ Jeffries is an entirely different, better, more innovative writer. Her new series is creative, devoid of most of the tired old historical romance clichés and just so engrossing. I read the second book first, as I had a review copy, and I loved it very much. I can’t pick a favourite of the two, as What the Duke Desires is equally as original with an equally complex plot.
If only I could track down more historical romances like these, that is, if they even exist.
Lisette is in a difficult position. Born to a noble father, she could have had so many more expectations from life if only the man had fulfilled his promise to marry her mother before his death. As he did not, she and her family had to find their own way in the world.
I have to admit to being very worried about how her eventual happy ending with a duke was ever going be plausible, but it worked for me here (one of the very few where it does, The Duke by Gaelen Foley being another).
As for Max, Duke of Lyons? I liked him a lot. He was more than a cluster of clichéd ‘romance hero’ characteristics. I also loved that he was fairer-haired, as I’m a little tired of the carbon copy heroes in historical romance.
What I loved best of all was The Plot. There was a lot of it, and it was complex and clever and reached beyond the standards for the genre (taking us, for a time, to mainland Europe, as the next book did briefly, too). Sex didn’t replace storytelling.
Complaints? Well, if you stop to think about it, the relationship happens very quickly, but it didn’t come across as unbelievable to me, even taking that into consideration. There’re gottens all over the place, sometimes numerous times in the same paragraph – a big distraction – but I was very happy to see arse spelt correctly (and used often!).
This is a truly wonderful historical romance series.