Doing it at: 48%
Catnip: Lords and Ladies; Secret identities; Historical; Revenge plots; Strong female lead; Dual narrative
Shame scale: It’s a classic bodice ripper cover, so that’s pretty shame-y. It taught me a lot about the French Revolution though! Which puts it at low to medium shame, your grandma might be OK with you reading this
Fantasy casting: Matthew Mcfayden and Anna Kendrick
Wanted: Governess able to keep all hours . . .
Rebellious Julian Fortescue never expected to inherit a dukedom, nor to find himself guardian to three young half-sisters. Now in the market for a governess, he lays eyes on Jane Grey and knows immediately she is qualified—to become his mistress. Yet the alluring woman appears impervious to him. Somehow Julian must find a way to make her succumb to temptation . . . without losing his heart and revealing the haunting mistakes of his past.
Desired: Duke skilled in the seductive art of conversation . . .
Lady Jeanne de Falleron didn’t seek a position as a governess simply to fall into bed with the Duke of Denford. Under the alias of Jane Grey, she must learn which of the duke’s relatives is responsible for the death of her family—and take her revenge. She certainly can’t afford the distraction of her darkly irresistible employer, or the smoldering desire he ignites within her .
But as Jane discovers more clues about the villain she seeks, she’s faced with a possibility more disturbing than her growing feelings for Julian: What will she do if the man she loves is also the man she’s sworn to kill?
I’m going to be your sole historical reviewer for mybookshame; which is fine with me, I’m happy to keep all the juicy costume drama and royalty plays for myself. Historicals are what I cut my teeth on and sometimes nothing else will satisfy my romance sweet tooth.
The Duke of Dark Desires is set in 1803 England, but the story starts in France during The Terror. As with most historicals this took me a longer time to read than my average because I kept stopping to Google things like “The Terror,” “The Dauphin,” “Fragonard Pastel,” and “evening gown + 1800 + France.” Come for the book sexy time– stay for the dress porn. Our heroine, Jane Gray, isn’t really Jane Grey at all. Her family of French aristocrats were all sent to the guillotine and Jane only escaped the same fate because her father had insisted she pretend to be the family governess. She also survived because a French soldier decided that the then-fifteen-year-old would make a perfect mistress. Jane makes very few bones about, and is delightfully unashamed of, the fact that she set up as mistress of two separate men in order to stay alive until our story brings her to England. She did what she had to do and the hero also understands this and doesn’t ever hold it against her–he could care less that she’s not a virgin. In fact he seems to view it as a plus since he wants to seduce her at first sight. Of course, he doesn’t know she has come to seek revenge on (and kill) someone in his family who she holds responsible for the death of her parents and little sisters.
Julian Fortescue is pretty fresh to his dukedom and is still overcoming a black sheep past as an art dealer; which is how he initially came in contact with Jane’s family. He purchased and helped smuggle out the family’s extensive art collection, and escaped France by the skin of his teeth while her family lost their heads. Now his mother, who seems like a real fun time, has remarried (again) and left his three sisters in his care while she sails for America. Which is where Jane comes in, he needs a governess and she needs to snoop around the family house and figure out which Mr. Fortescue ruined her life nine years before. Julian wants Jane as soon as he sees her, she feels the same and looks much forward to what she knows will be her eventual seduction. This book has a dual narrative and Julian spends a lot of time thinking about lying Jane down on a particularly sumptuous divan in the library and investigating whats happening under her skirts. At one point he inquires as to whether she has any hoop skirts -better for the exploring- and always a fantasy of his (mine too). These two are playful and have a good flirt going, when they get with the doin’ it neither feels guilty and there is no wishy washy-ing about doing it again. They like sex and they like having it with each other. This is my favorite kind of historical sex. No shame and virgin guilt for me, please. I’m a modern lady.
The actual plot is twisty and fun and requires attention paying. The HEA comes a smidge quickly, I felt a little of that “OH, they just put a bow on that” disappointment that fast endings give me. Overall though, this book had a real plot, and real dialog, and sex that did not induce eye rolling or cringing. The undressing is more fun in historicals, all that unwrapping. It also introduced me to the word quim. I was under the impression I knew every euphemism for the P and the V, it’s always nice when a book surprises you. The Duke of Dark Desires gets a strong B, I would recommend it to any fellow lovers of castles, dukes, carriages, proper dining etiquette, and royal intrigue.