All I Want For Christmas Is A Duke By Delilah Marvelle & Maire Claremont

All I Want For Christmas Is A DukeAvailable: Now Amazon/B&N

Type: Historical Romance Anthology

Publisher: Entangled Publishing

My Copy: Sent

Reviewer: Michelle

Two ladies. Two dukes. One Christmas. And scandal galore. 

A Christmas anthology by two hot names in historical romance fiction…

Merry Christmas, Mrs. Robinson by Delilah Marvelle

Lady Jane left her father, the Earl of Chadwick, and the ton behind to experience life on the stage. After a disastrous marriage, the widow is living on the edge of poverty, determined to guard her heart, when a secret admirer from her past demands a second chance.
Shy and retiring Martin Nicholas Pierce, the Sixth Duke of Somerset, has carried a torch for Lady Jane since her youth, but he is five years her junior. When she married another man, he left for Europe, determined to put her out of his mind. After returning to find Lady Jane free, he vows to replace the memories of her cursed Twelfth Night with a new beginning.

Lady Jane has been living in relative obscurity (and near poverty) since her fall from grace years ago, leaving her family to seek a career onstage.   After her debut, she began receiving letters from an admirer with whom she quickly formed an emotional connection.  She is crushed when she discovers the man she meets and soon after marries, thinking he is Mister X, is a fraud.  Then her husband dies unexpectedly after only two weeks of marriage. Jane swears off men, feeling betrayed not only by the man she married but also the real Mister X, who stepped aside to let someone else claim her.

Enter Martin, the Duke of Somerset.  Martin lost his heart to Lady Jane when he was just a shy, studious teenager. He didn’t have the maturity or experience to know how to win Jane over and convince her their ages didn’t matter.  He created the ruse of Mister X in order to make her SEE him and give her a chance to match his feelings through their correspondence.  He bowed out, though, when she married her husband and never confessed to being the real Mister X after seeing how happy and in love she was.

When a twist of fate brings Jane back into his life, Martin seizes the opportunity with both hands.  He is now a man, a duke, and his romantic feelings for Jane that have been simmering under the surface for the last eight years are brought right back to the forefront the minute he sees her.   I loved the fact that this was an older woman/younger man love story. Despite being five years younger, Martin seemed very strong, very mature, and very sure of himself.  Delilah Marvelle did what a successful romance author does best – she made me fall in love with the hero.  Simply put, if I don’t love him, I don’t love the book. Jane struggled with her feelings for Martin.  She had to work through not only the fact that her Mister X was actually the quiet, young Martin from years ago, but also try to ignore their age difference as he seemed to do so easily.  She put up a good front, but Martin slowly and methodically chipped away at the walls around her heart until she couldn’t help but fall in love with the man he is now.

My only complaint with this book was the one and only love scene.  Their story was achingly beautiful and full of emotion, and despite the fact that I normally love a lot of heat in a book, the sex in this one was almost unnecessary.  The author’s talent truly shines when describing the romance, tenderness and friendship, but the phrasing and pacing of the physical love scene left a lot to be desired.

The Twelve Days of Seduction By Màire Claremont

Alexander Hunt, Eighth Duke of Berresford, is aware his ward’s governess isn’t quite what she seems. Although Miss Flint is beautiful and intelligent, she misrepresented herself to gain employment, and he threatens to give her the sack mere days before Christmas.
Desperate to convince the sexy duke not to tear her from the little girl she’s grown to adore, Adriana challenges him to seduce her before the Twelve Days of Christmas have come to an end, although she fears it may cost her heart. Alexander accepts the challenge, unconcerned that he has as much to lose, if not more, than the delectable Miss Flint.

Adriana Flint is a woman who has clawed her way up from less than humble beginnings.  Life has taught her that nothing good lasts forever, though, so she knows it’s just a matter of time before the truth comes out and she loses the first real home and happiness she’s ever had.  Being in the duke’s home and taking care of his ward whom she adores is more than she’d thought to ask for.  When the duke discovers her true identity and her fragile security is threatened, she does the only thing she can think of – she fights for what she wants.

Alexander Hunt is the type of duke I love most.  He is strong and smart and oh so “ducal”, he stands up for what he wants and damns anyone who stands in his way. For the past year he has hidden his lust for Miss Flint, knowing it was entirely inappropriate to act on his feelings for his ward’s governess.  He is furious when he discovers that she is not who she had portrayed herself to be.  As an imposter, and an authoress, he questions her integrity and her morals.  Unwilling to give her up, but knowing that he can’t in good conscience keep her on as a governess, he asks her to become his mistress.  Adriana can’t deny her own attraction for him, and willing to do whatever it takes to stay in the home she’s made for herself with Alexander and his ward, she agrees… on one condition.  She tells him she will stay, but he must seduce her into becoming his mistress.

The chemistry between these two was combustible and I loved that neither one put up much of a fight when it came to giving in to it.  The only thing that was missing was more of the actual seduction!  I feel that Alexander simply capitalized on the fact that Adriana wanted him and he KNEW she wanted him.

I confess that I went into this book with pretty low expectations.  An anthology typically leaves me wanting more of SOMETHING…. more to the story, more OF the story, more intensity, more emotion, etc.  I’ve never read a book by either of these authors.  Put all of that together and I didn’t really think it was a formula for a winner.  I was wrong.  I thoroughly enjoyed it!  It takes a talented author (or in this case, authors) to create the right blend of characters, scenes, and emotions to make a holiday storyline enjoyable and touching without being a cliche.  Both Delilah Marvelle and Maire Claremont pull that off in a satisfying way.

I give All I Want For Christmas Is a Duke 4 stars!

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