Three young heirs, imprisoned by an unscrupulous uncle, escaped—to the sea, to the streets, to faraway battle—awaiting the day when they would return to reclaim their birthright.
Sebastian Easton always vowed he would avenge his stolen youth and title. Now back in London, the rightful Duke of Keswick—returning from battle a wounded, hardened, changed man—cannot forget the brave girl who once rescued him and his brothers from certain death.
Lady Mary Wynne-Jones paid dearly for helping the imprisoned young Lords of Pembrook, and she remembers well the promise she made to Sebastian all those years ago: to meet him once more in the abbey ruins where they shared a bold, forbidden kiss. While Mary is betrothed now to another, a friendship forged with dark secrets cannot be ignored. Unexpected passion soon burns dangerously between them, tempting Sebastian to abandon his quest for retribution to fight for a love that could once again set him free.
Sebastian and Tristan, age 14 and their brother, Rafe, age 10, are escorted to a tower on their family property right after their father’s funeral. Sebastian, who is now officially the Duke of Keswick, knows that their uncle who is now their guardian wants them gone and plans to get rid of them somehow. The first line in the book relays Sebastian’s thoughts pretty succinctly:
Tonight was the night they would die.
It gave me chills and made me want to know more, more, more. The three boys are saved from certain death by Sebastian’s best friend and neighbor, Mary Wynne-Jones. They take off into the night and aren’t heard from again for 12 years when their uncle is petitioning to have them all pronounced dead and take over the dukedom. The three boys, now men appear at a ball and make the announcement that indeed they are not dead and they are there to claim their birthright. The uncle is none too pleased when he is sent off and kicked from the London home he considered his.
Mary is at the ball when the brothers arrive and she immediately heads to acknowledge them. Sebastian is shocked that Mary has grown into a beautiful woman. In his mind he had always remembered her as the 12 year old he left that dark night. He finds that he can’t stop thinking about the woman and surprisingly she can’t stop thinking about him either, even though she’s engaged.
The brothers are not who they used to be. They had separated when they escaped all those years ago as to make it harder to find them and they had each lived hard lives instead of the pampered lives of Lord’s. Sebastian is scarred both emotionally and physically and though he knows he should marry to produce an heir the last thing he wants is a wife to have to worry about as well. His mind is constantly on the main estate, Pembrook, and his uncle’s downfall and the guilt he carries for doing what he had to do with his brothers all those years ago - he can’t possible focus on a woman. But then there’s Mary. Mary who is beautiful, sweet and kind. Mary who seems to be there for him and his brothers whenever she is needed – despite the fact that her reputation is on the verge of ruination. Mary, the woman that Sebastian decides he must marry after her fiancé breaks their engagement. He thinks it’s a hardship but really, Sebastian’s been in love with Mary for years it just takes a lot of time and a bit of “almost” tragedy for him to clear his mind and see things how they really are.
I have to say that I have really been enjoying the books I’ve been reading from Lorraine Heath in the past year and this one was no different. She just has a way with her stories and her characters that really feed my need when it comes to historical romances. Yes, there are many that do that but so many who don’t.
In this book the characters, at least for me, played the major role. Sebastian with his scarred face and the passionate need pulsing through him for retribution was just such an intense man. I’m a sucker for a scarred hero anyway and he was a good one. It did almost take a konk over the head (figuratively speaking) to get him to have that light bulb moment but when he did he didn’t sit and ponder it for a while – he took action. Mary, who had spent most of her life in a convent after the boys escaped, was such an incredibly strong character. She had taken the girl who had loved adventures and shenanigans and turned her into a loyal and steadfast woman who was to be reckoned with. I loved it.
The brothers, Tristan and Rafe, I must say, though they didn’t have humongous parts in the book made appearance enough to really pique my interest. I want to know more about what they went through growing up and how that formed the people that they are now.
She Tempts the Duke ended up being a very good book that I very much enjoyed and I definitely recommend it to those readers who love a really good historical romance.
Rating: 4.25 out of 5