Dukes Are Forever by Anna Harrington (The Secret Life of Scoundrels #1)

Dukes-are-Forever-Launch-Day-Blitz

 

Dukes Are Forever by Anna HarringtonAvailable: Now Amazon/B&N

Type: Historical Romance

Publisher: Forever

My Copy: Sent

Reviewer: Pam

ALL’S FAIR IN LOVE

Battlefields and barrooms hold much more interest for Edward Westover, Duke of Swarthmore, than a little girl’s fondness for dolls and lace. When he takes possession of his enemy’s estate, everything that villain held dear—including his daughter—belongs to Edward. Hire a governess, arrange a dowry, give a few reassurances, and be off on his way—that’s Edward’s plan. But he’s in for the shock of his life. For his new ward is a beautiful, impetuous, and utterly irresistible woman…

…AND WAR

Kate Benton is stunned. Who is this arrogant, infuriating man who’s invited himself into her home and taken over her life? Her vow: to do everything in her power to convince him to leave her—and Brambly House—alone. Yet as chilly days melt into sultry nights, Kate sees glimpses of kindness underneath Edward’s cool façade . . . and a passionate nature that takes her breath away. There’s so much she doesn’t know about this man. But does she dare trust this devilish duke with her heart?

Dukes are Forever is the debut book for this author and I thoroughly enjoyed stepping to the Regency world. We are introduced to three heroes who will each have their own story of romance and love.

Edward Westover was a Colonel in the army until he was called home from Spain because his brother was killed. He is a reluctant Duke and has grudgingly taken on the responsibilities of the dukedom along with exacting revenge on the man who is accountable for his brother’s death. While buying up Phillip Benton’s markers all over town to ruin the man, he also becomes the guardian of the man’s daughter. Believing she is a young girl, he sees about setting her up with a governess, only to find she is a young woman with ideas of her own.

Katherine Benton lives in a small village she loves. She has lived in Brambly House her whole life, a home her mother passed down to her and she vows to keep it, however there is not much left for furnishings anymore and the staff is old and few. Her father has badgered her to give him the house since she inherited it, yet she always refuses, but he seems to take anything not nailed down when he comes to visit. She is a healer in the village and many come to her for help, in another time she would have been a doctor. When Edward comes to meet her she is outraged by his arrogance, yet there is something there that intrigues her.

A delightful debut by an author I will add to my list of historical romances to read. The characters are intriguing and along with an enjoyable premise it keeps the reader turning the pages until the end.

Katherine is a wonderful heroine although at times held on to a fairytale idea of her father for too long. For her entire life, she wanted him to love her and it was hard for her to accept the type of person he really is, which gets her into trouble several times. She has a caring nature which is apparent as she uses her healing skills to help others.

Edward is more difficult to pin down; he can hold a grudge like no other and is obsessed with ruining Benton. Even when he has him under his control, he still wonders what else he needs to do to finish him. He also gets angry when he believes Katherine defies an order and takes drastic measures to punish her, I was a little put off by this turn of events but he grovels nicely by the end, which helps in my eyes. The attraction between the two is hard to deny and the chemistry is apparent, he just has to get past his issues before a happy ending can happen.

I truly enjoyed several secondary characters that are introduced, Thomas Matteson and Nathaniel Grey are both captains in the army with Edward and are great friends. They will each be feature in the next two books and I will be happy to read their stories. I adored Edward’s Aunt Augusta, she comes across as fussy and pretentious but loves Katherine and is always helping things along quietly, she has a quick wit and I enjoyed her scenes. The evil in the story is Katherine’s father, who is loathsome; a horrible person who never takes the blame for anything and only wants money and power, he basically “sells” his own daughter, but gets what is coming to him in the end. Definitely a nice debut set in Regency England with romance and a bit of danger toward the end to satisfy all who love historical romances.

I give Dukes are Forever by Anna Harrington 4 stars!

**EXCERPT**

“If she isn’t downstairs in five minutes,” Edward warned Mrs. Elston through gritted teeth, “I will go up to her room and drag her down myself!”

The old governess bristled. “As I told you, Miss Kate is feeling unwell—”

A sharp curse exploded from him, telling her exactly what he thought of Miss Kate’s sudden illness.

“Your Grace,” her brows shot up, offended, “with all due respect—”

He rolled his eyes, knowing that whatever she was about to say would lack all respect.

“—you have swept into our home without warning, upset both my little Katie and the entire household, and are now making demands as if you own the place.”

“I do own it,” he drawled.

“Brambly House is entailed,” she informed him pointedly. “It is owned solely by Miss Kate to be relinquished only to the gentleman she marries.” Her emphasis clearly implied that despite his title, she found him to be no gentleman. “If she wishes to forgo your company, you should have the decency to give her peace!”

She stood squarely in front of him and blocked the stairs like a bulldog guarding its dinner. While ordinarily he would have found that loyalty admirable, tonight he was ready to throttle her for it.

“Mrs. Elston,” he growled, tired from a long day of traveling and now hungry since dinner was an hour late, “if Miss Benton doesn’t come downstairs, I swear I’ll—”

“You will do what, your Grace?” a soft voice challenged from the landing.

He glanced up, and when he saw her, the rest of the threat vanished from his lips. Sweet Lucifer, she was a vision. Although a decade out of fashion, the ice-blue silk gown

she wore was cut just carefully enough to tantalize without being improper, with its fitted bodice accentuating her slender waist and its neckline revealing a hint of firm breasts beneath. As she descended toward him, her upswept red hair shining like fire, the dress shimmered enticingly over her curves with each move.

She stopped two steps from the bottom, her eyes level with his and just the hint of a self-assured smile at her lips. The sweet scent of honeysuckle wafted down to him like a cloud, and his gut clenched with unbidden arousal.

The disheveled woman who greeted him earlier had transformed into a beautiful woman, like a caterpillar into a butterfly. She left him speechless.

“You’ll do what?” she pressed.

His lips twisted impishly at his now-empty threat. “Throw you over my knee and spank you.”

“Your Grace!” Mrs. Elston swung her gaze at him, appalled that he would even suggest such a thing.

Kate raised her head defiantly, her green eyes blazing. “I’d like to see you try.”

Good God. His cock twitched at the temptation.

“Miss Kate!” Mrs. Elston blurted out, aghast at her charge’s scandalous behavior.

Ignoring the old governess and fighting back an amused chuckle, Edward held out his hand. “Truce?”

She hesitated.

“Until dessert at least?”

She placed her gloved hand into his and allowed him to help her down the last two steps and toward the dining room as she conceded, “Until dessert, your Grace.”

“Edward, please,” he corrected.

“Then you must call me Kate,” she insisted, a mischievous glint in her eyes. “All my guardians do.”

“You have a lot of guardians, do you?” he asked dryly.

“Oh, yes.” She gave a flippant wave of her hand, the mocking gesture indicating how ludicrous she found their situation and her desire to be free of it. “Lately, it seems there’s a new one dropping by every day.”

He paused in mid-step, then slid her an irritated sideways glance as she continued walking, slipping her hand away from his arm to proceed him into the room. As his gaze roamed down her backside, the curves beneath the gown and the soft sashay of her hips once again reminded him that this was no child in need of a guardian. This was a woman.

Worse, he thought grimly as the man now responsible for guarding her reputation, she was beautiful. The moment she debuted, every man would set his sights on her. And it wouldn’t be with the intention of marrying her.

Heaven help him, he was in serious trouble.

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