Type: Historical Romance
My Copy: NetGalley
What woman in her right mind would say no to marrying the dashing Duke of Sedgemoor? Miss Penelope Thorne, that’s who. She’s known Camden Rothermere since they were children-and she also knows she’d bring nothing but scandal to his name.
Cam can hardly believe Penelope turned down his proposal. But if she wants to run off to the Continent and set the rumor mill ablaze, he can’t stop her. Then her brother’s dying request sends him to bring home the one woman he thought he’d finally gotten over.
The only way they’ll both get back to London without their reputations in tatters is to pretend they’re married during the journey. That means kissing like they mean it and even sharing a bed-until it becomes hard to tell where the game ends and true desire begins . . .
Anna Campbell is a master storyteller. Her recipe for writing a romance contains just the right amounts of back story, dialogue, action and passion. While this book didn’t have as much intrigue as some of her others, I enjoyed it all the more because the entire focus was on the romantic relationship. What a Duke Dares is the third installment in her Sons of Sin series. I adored the first book with its dark, wounded hero, and was entertained by the second – a totally lighthearted romp. I hoped I wouldn’t be disappointed with this one, and I wasn’t. The story of Cam and Pen had all of the angst of the first book and the humor and snappy dialogue of the second.
Penelope Thorne has known the Duke of Sedgemoor for most of her life, and she has loved him almost that long. As a child known for getting into all kinds of scrapes, Penelope learned quickly that Cam was someone she could count on. As her older brother’s friend, he was always around and always treated Penelope with kindness and respect. Her childhood adoration transforms into a young woman’s affection and she knows there could be no other man for her. Despite that, she shocks even herself when she rejects his marriage proposal.
Camden Rothermere has spent his life trying to repair the damage done to his family’s name by his parents’ indiscretions. He grew up a firsthand witness to what passion and betrayal can do to a marriage, and swears he’ll never succumb to his emotions like that. He is friendly and affable, a loyal friend and a respectable duke. Cam knows that a good match with a genteel bride will help protect everything his proper behavior has achieved. When he first proposes to Penelope, he does so banking on the fact that they share a friendly regard for one another and she knows how important it is to him to avoid scandal. His pride is wounded and his feelings are beyond hurt when Pen refuses. Her rejection and then her leaving only help him shore up the walls around his heart even more.
Penelope and Camden are reunited nine years later when her dying brother asks Cam to fetch her back to England. Penelope has spent almost a decade living abroad, relishing her independence and avoiding one Duke of Sedgemoor. Her fondest wish, now and nine years ago, is to be with Cam, but she knows the marriage would be a disaster. Her family is almost as mired in scandal as his, and she would be anything but a prim, biddable bride. Not only that, it would be torture to spend her life side by side with him, loving him and knowing he would never return that love. Unfortunately, she doesn’t count on Cam reappearing in her life, or being coerced into marriage with him to avoid scandal upon their return to London.
Penelope and Camden were both flawed characters. Their chemistry was combustible, but while their nights were pure marital bliss, their days were spent in polite misery. They both played the same game – wanting more from the other without revealing their own vulnerabilities. Pen refused to open her heart to Cam, knowing she would die a little inside every time he looked at her with those shuttered eyes. Cam had feelings for Pen. No other woman had the power to incite his passion, jealousy and even affection like she did. After so many years of hiding his emotions behind the walls he methodically built, he refused to acknowledge, and maybe wasn’t even aware, that Pen already owned his heart.
I thought Pen and Cam were perfect for each other. He would have been bored to tears with a demure, conformable wife. Penelope was plucky and outspoken and funny and passionate, and she was exactly what he needed in a duchess. The road they had to take to reach their happy ever after was long and difficult, but Anna Campbell’s writing made me enjoy every step of the way. She knows how to be descriptive without being wordy, and the interaction between her characters is delightful. I don’t usually quote books in my reviews, but there was one sentence that stuck with me.
“[He] felt like significance weighted every moment.”
In the story, this sentence refers to Harry, Penelope’s brother, and the secondary romance between him and Sophie (which I didn’t love simply because it distracted me from Pen & Cam). However, to me, those words apply to this entire book. I felt like every single sentence was significant and I savored every word.
I give What a Duke Dares by Anna Campbell 5 stars!