Lady Grace Mabry’s ample inheritance has made it impossible for her to tell whether a suitor is in love with her— or enamored of her riches. Who better to distinguish beau from blackguard than her notorious childhood friend, the Duke of Lovingdon?
With no interest in marriage, Lovingdon has long lived only for pleasure. He sees little harm in helping Grace find a proper match. He simply has to teach the lovely innocent all the ploys a scoundrel uses to gain a woman’s favor— by demonstrating his wicked ways. But as lessons lead to torrid passion and Grace becomes ensnared in another man’s marriage plot, Lovingdon must wage a desperate gamble: Open his heart fully—or risk losing the woman he adores . . .
Rating: D+ for narration, B+ for content
When the Duke Was Wicked is the first book in a new series from Lorraine Heath in which the principal characters are the offspring of those in her earlier Scoundrels of St. James books.
Lady Grace Mabury is beautiful, intelligent, generous of spirit and at the age of nineteen, the most sought-after debutante in London. But she wants to be sure that she is being courted for the right reasons, that the man she will eventually marry loves her for herself rather than for the substantial dowry her father will bestow upon her.
But how is a girl to find out such a thing? Grace thinks she has the answer to that when she turns to her childhood friend, Henry, Duke of Lovingdon for help. She reasons that, as someone who has experienced true love, he is ideally qualified to be able to tell Grace what to look for. But Lovingdon has been a widower for two years and was so devastated by the deaths of his wife and young daughter that he has withdrawn from polite society and instead spends his time gambling, drinking and shagging his way around town in an attempt to dull the pain of his loss. Even though he cares for Grace, he has finished with love in all its forms and turns her down flat.
But she is not one to be easily deterred, and decides that if Lovingdon won’t help her, then she’ll work things out for herself. But when he hears that Grace seems to favour one or two of her clutch of suitors, Lovingdon finds himself unable to maintain his disinterest and decides that perhaps a word or two in her ear now and then won’t mean he’s committed to help her – he’s just giving her the odd pointer.
Of course, Lovingdon’s pointers quickly turn into demonstrations; a man who truly loves Grace will make her toes curl with his kisses, seek out opportunities to touch her, focus entirely on her when she speaks to him, know her favourite flower and will make her feel beautiful and desired.
Even though he has finally realised that the tree-climbing, frog-catching girl he knew has grown into a beautiful woman, and even though he admits that he desires her, Lovingdon remains adamant that he is not prepared to open himself up to the pain of loss again. He does love Grace – but not in the way she wants or deserves to be loved, and maintains that he is not the man for her, despite the fact that his actions prove otherwise, over and over again.
You can read the rest of this review at AudioGals