Avon Romance Jan 31 2012
384 pages by Lorraine Heath
BLURB ON BACK OF BOOK:
Three young heirs, imprisoned by an unscrupulous uncle, escaped—to the sea, to the streets, to faraway battle—awaiting the day when they would return to reclaim their birthright.
Sebastian Easton always vowed he would avenge his stolen youth and title. Now back in London, the rightful Duke of Keswick—returning from battle a wounded, hardened, changed man—cannot forget the brave girl who once rescued him and his brothers from certain death.
Lady Mary Wynne-Jones paid dearly for helping the imprisoned young Lords of Pembrook, and she remembers well the promise she made to Sebastian all those years ago: to meet him once more in the abbey ruins where they shared a bold, forbidden kiss. While Mary is now betrothed to another, a friendship forged with dark secrets cannot be ignored. Unexpected passion soon burns dangerously between them, tempting Sebastian to abandon his quest for retribution and fight for a love that could once again set him free.
Since reading Lorraine Heath's 'Waking up with the Duke', she has moved to my very short 'auto-buy' list. That book blew me out of the water. Reading a lot of her back-list had me even more enamored of this writer. I was anticipating this release and I was not disappointed.
Lorraine begins a new series with the Lost Lords of Pembrook, three brothers who had to flee for their lives when the were barely into their teens. The prologue sets up the premise for this new trilogy and it is heartbreaking to be sure. It's a great hook. It is also when the hero, Sebastian and the heroine, Mary are introduced. Mary aids their escape, and the touching relationship between them at 14 and 12 is already palatable.
More than ten years pass, and we join Mary at a ball. She has been cloistered away at a nunnery at her father's behest. Having secured the attentions of a handsome earl, it looks as if Mary's life is taking a turn for the better. Enter the lost Lords of Pembrook. Their dramatic entrance into the ball was fantastic. When I can picture the scene in my mind's eye, I know it was well written and executed.
They are back to claim their inheritance and standing tall is Sebastian, claiming the title, Duke of Keswick from his evil uncle. The lads have been through a lot, but no one more so than Sebastian. He is scarred thanks to Waterloo, both outwardly and inwardly. His face is damaged and he lost an eye, but his outward magnetism is not lost on Mary.
I enjoyed the tight focus on Mary and Sebastian. Mary is a courageous heroine who does not shirk from dragging Sebastian kicking and screaming into the light. Their childhood attachment is still there, years apart did not diminish their regard. Thanks to a very much used plot device, Mary and Sebastian wind up married, and as you can imagine, the passion is white hot and searing.
It is the other intimacy Sebastian has trouble dealing with. His focus, his touch stone all these years was regaining the title and Pembrook. Nothing else mattered. He is also carrying a ton of guilt concerning his brothers Tristan and Rafe. (Their stories promise to be enthralling as well.)
Slowly and touchingly, Sebastian realizes it was Mary that was his touch stone. His emotional journey is achingly real. The sub plot with the uncle did not impact the story much in my mind.
Anyone who has read my reviews knows I LOVE the scarred hero, and Sebastian fits the bill all the way. I also liked Mary a lot.
She Tempts the Duke is historical romance at its finest. Tons of emotion, angst, heartbreak and passion. You won't be disappointed.
4.5 out of 5 stars