For years Serafina McPhee has been engaged to marry the heir to the Duke of Hartholm and for almost as long, she has been struggling to find a way out of that engagement. When he suddenly dies, she does not mourn but thrills at the idea that she will be free. Unfortunately, best laid plans go awry when the next in line for the title, her intended’s cousin, Raphael “Rafe” Flynn is forced to take over the engagement. But Serafina knows Rafe’s reputation as a libertine and wants nothing to do with him, either, even if he is devastatingly handsome.
She proposes an arrangement: she will agree to the marriage and provide Rafe with his heir and spare. Once she has done her duty, he will let her go. Rafe is intrigued both by her beauty and by her utter disgust with the idea of being his bride. Women normally fall at his feet, not cringe away from him. However, since their arranged marriage is not something he can escape, he agrees to her terms.
But when he finds out on their wedding night the truth about her torture at the hands of his predecessor, he finds himself driven not just to fulfil his bargain with his new bride, but to introduce her to desire. While they move closer together, surrendering to wicked pleasures, dangerous emotions may violate every agreement they’ve made.
This one was so promising. I loved the premise, and I genuinely liked the characters. However, in the end I thought it fell apart a bit. The Other Duke has great ideas, but relies too heavily on repetitive sex scenes for character development, and tops it all off with plenty of historical inaccuracies.
I am going to give away a few plot points, but they’re not anything you can’t figure out from the blurb.
We start off with our heroine about to marry a violent, abusive, rapist duke. She is dreading it. However, he is killed and both the title and the fiancée pass on to the next male relative, who happens to be our hero.
I liked that they were practical about the situation they found themselves in, and I really liked that they genuinely liked each other pretty much from the outset.
But this is where I encountered my first problem with the book, and the fact they make an agreement to live apart, only meeting to produce the heir and spare. In truth, that’s an arrangement that wasn’t uncommon amongst the aristocracy anyway – love matches were largely frowned upon.
However, I just couldn’t figure out why they kept talking about this silly arrangement. From day one they liked each other and were attracted to each other. After a short while it became clear they loved each other, too. The only reason the issue of living apart was carried on to the end of the book was because there had to be some sort of conflict in the relationship.
But it made No Sense!
Another problem, relating to all the sex, was that our heroine is a victim of sexual assault. But after a few token bad reactions to kissing at the very start of the book, she switches into a bold lover who adores sex. The issue of her trauma was not dealt with much, and another trauma at the end of the book was also glossed over.
It has been said to me that this author is known for her erotic romances, which I suppose is why every single scene ended with the characters having sex. But it just didn’t work for me. It should also be noted that the book was not marketed to me as erotic romance, and the cover is no different to every other historical romance on the market these days.
I started skipping the sex scenes by the halfway point, as the plot seemed to disappear so the two of them could have sex at the end of every single conversation. Additionally, the approach to sex was quite anachronistic. No man in 1813 would be taking time to explain medical terminology for his wife’s body! This was the era where it was believed women had no physical urges!
I think most people who read enough romance start to get bored by sex scenes after a while, and I seem to have reached that point.
It must be said there were bright moments throughout, at the times people managed to keep their clothes on. While I eventually became hugely frustrated with the heroine, I did like her in-laws and I would be interested in reading about them in upcoming books.
Two other things I appreciated were having a blond hero, and having a heroine known for her beauty. I’m tired of all the Plain Janes whose books only feature attractive women if they’re to be the enemy!
Other anachronisms included the language, but then almost all historical romance authors get their British terminology all wrong – “sidewalk” is not a word that should ever appear! I was very confused why our characters were waltzing at a ball years before the waltz was even introduced to England!
Unfortunately I didn’t end up enjoying The Other Duke anywhere near as much as I expected to. For the first few chapters I actually thought it might be a five star read for me, but unfortunately my opinion changed.
Review copy provided by NetGalley.