Thursday, September 19, 2013

REVIEW: "Never Desire a Duke" by Lily Dalton

Never Desire a Duke (One Scandalous Season, #1)
Never Desire a Duke by Lily Dalton
(One Scandalous Season #1)

Goodreads -- Amazon -- Book Depository
Author Website

For Ages 18+
Historical Romance
Forever -- September 24, 2013
Ebook, 386 pages
Received from Netgalley

Troubled Marriage, Tortured Hero

A secret from his past holds the key to their future...

A Marriage Beyond Hope
Lady Sophia has long been estranged from her husband, Lord Vane Barwick, the Marquess of Claxton, whose rumored list of amorous conquests includes almost every beautiful woman of the ton. Yet a shocking encounter with him in a crowded ballroom—and a single touch—are all it takes to reawaken her furious passion for him. But how can she trust the man who crushed her dreams and took away the one thing she wanted most?

A Love Beyond Reason
Lord Claxton has never forgiven himself for the youthful mistake that ruined his marriage to Lady Sophia. Now, after nearly a year abroad, the reformed rogue vows to win back the only woman he's ever truly loved. He'll do whatever it takes to prove he can be the honorable husband she deserves—and the passionate lover she desires. As the snowdrifts deepen outside their ancestral home, can they rekindle the flame that burned so bright and find a new path to forever?

"Tell me now, what has happened?" demanded Vane Barwick, fourth Duke of Claxton, tenth Earl of Renclere, as he swept through the front doors of his London residence, the frigid chill of the winter's day clinging to his greatcoat.

I received a free e-ARC of this book from Forever via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

I love finding debut authors and that is the main reason that I was so excited to receive Never Desire a Duke by Lily Dalton.  It is so refreshing to read a new voice that has something to add to one of my favorite genres.  While it is not perfect, I found this book to be a lovely mix of drama, comedy, and romance with some holiday spirit thrown in.

The plot falls in the troubled marriage category which is one that I like, but don't get a chance to read too often.  In this case, Vane and Sophia were happily married until rumors about his possible infidelities caused friction between them.  The major catalyst for their issues was a tragic event that shattered both of them and changed their views of their relationship forever.

The main part of the book takes place more than a year after that event.  Vane has been abroad working as a diplomat while Sophia has remained at home, still dealing with the rumors surrounding her husband's extracurricular activities.  They are reunited a few days before Christmas and decide to delay their intended separation for two very different reasons.  Sophia desperately wants a child and is willing to tolerate her husband for the time it takes to have one.  Vane, on the other hand, is still in love with his wife (though she is not aware of it) and is trying to find a way to repair the damage to their marriage that all the rumors have caused.

Things really become complicated when they become stranded at Vane's childhood home during a snowstorm.  This forces them to spend more time in each other's companies and allows them to get to know one another better.  I love getting to watch couples realize why they fell in love in the first place.  Besides the expected conversations about misunderstandings, the author provides readers with a subplot to keep things entertaining.  While waiting for the snow to melt, Vane and Sophia discover an old treasure hunt game that Vane's mother used to create for her children to play which allows them to work together towards a goal and learn more about each other.

I thought the development of Sophia, Vane, and the side characters was the strongest part of Never Desire a Duke.  Lily Dalton clearly understands her characters and has thought out their motives.  While I did not always agree with characters' actions, I understood their reasoning and appreciated the flaws that Dalton showed even in her main characters.  Vane was, by far, my favorite character as he is the type of hero I love to read about: stoic, seemingly cold-hearted, and uncomfortable with showing his true feelings.  He had a rough childhood after his mother's death and struggles with trusting others even his own wife.  Sophia started as a vengeful wife who had been so happy with her marriage until the rumors became too much for her.  She still has feelings for Vane, but does not trust him throughout most of the book.  This did get a bit overdone especially after, I thought, Vane had proven himself to her.  But, besides that, she was an intelligent, spunky, and genuine heroine that I did like by the end.

The side characters were very well-developed as well.  I especially liked Mr. and Mrs. Kettle, the old couple that helped care for Vane during his childhood, and Annabelle, the flirty woman who seemed oblivious to the damage she was doing to Vane and Sophia's marriage and just got in the way in a very funny way.  I also thought it was interesting how much time the author spent developing Vane's deceased parents who had a significant impact on his life and the overall storyline.

All in all, I thought Lily Dalton did a great job with her debut historical romance.  The characters' personalities were nicely detailed while their relationships with each other were fascinating and appropriately flawed.  The writing style provided a nice blend of drama and comedy that I enjoyed immensely.  I definitely recommend this for fans of historical romance and am looking forward to reading the second book in the One Scandalous Season series, Never Entice an Earl.


"When I should have stayed beside you and held you and proved to you I was someone else...I didn't.  I was wrong."  He touched her face and looked down into the green eyes that had always enchanted him.  "I can't take those memories and those hurts away, but I can tell you I love you.  I have always loved you."

1. Never Desire a Duke
2. Never Entice an Earl (Coming 2014)

1 comment:

  1. Ooo, that favorite quote of yours is pretty swoonworthy! :)


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