Title: If the Duke Demands
Author: Anna Harrington
Series: Capturing the Carlisles
Release Date: 02-28-2017
Genre(s): Historical Romance
Page Count: 368
Heat Level: 3.5 flames out of 5
Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5
Miranda Hodgkins has only ever wanted one thing: to marry Robert Carlisle. And she simply can’t wait a moment longer. During the Carlisle family masquerade ball, Miranda boldly sneaks into his bedchamber with seduction on her mind. Soon she’s swept into rock-hard arms for the most breathtaking kiss of her life. But when the masks come off, she’s horrified to find herself face-to-face with Sebastian, the Duke of Trent—Robert’s formidable older brother.
Shocked to find Miranda in his bed, Sebastian quickly offers her a deal to avoid scandal: he’ll help her win his brother’s heart if she’ll find him the perfect wife. But what begins as a simple negotiation soon spirals out of control. For the longer this reformed rake tries to make a match for Miranda, the more he wants to keep her all to himself.
The first book in Anna Harrington’s new sexy Regency trilogy about the Carlisle brothers—three unrepentant rakes who become respectable gentlemen when family tragedy strikes.
“Was that how all the Carlisle men saw her? As a silly country gel destined to marry a boring vicar or farmer and spend her life polishing church pews or chasing pigs on a farm?”
Miranda has crushed on her country neighbor, Robert Carlisle, since they were little and he gifted her with a kiss. Her problem? She’s all grown up now, but he’s entranced with another woman. Her solution? Why, dress in a fine and provocative gown, lie on his bed with her masked face, where they’ll make love before she declares herself and her heart. Too bad she ends up in bed with the wrong brother.
Sebastian feels the weight of the dukedom on his shoulders. He’s determined to marry his perfect duchess. That isn’t Miranda with her bold maneuverings and her love of Milton and Shakespeare. No, the part of him that glories in her passion and intelligence doesn’t fit with the Sebastian he is now.
They strike a bargain: Miranda will help him find a suitable wife if he’ll help Miranda ensnare Robert. But damned if Sebastian doesn’t fall for her in the meantime.
This is a solid historical romance with all its humorous barbs and battles and just the right amount of passion. Miranda is a blend of bold, but shy; innocent, yet brave. She flowers under Sebastian’s attention, and she really needs someone to see her. Especially when all her attempts to capture Robert’s attention fail. It’s her wake up call. Does she want the man she’s loved for years or the one she’s just starting to know?
The best part is how Miranda’s passion and exuberance ignites the Sebastian he has tried so hard to subdue. But when they’re one-on-one, shrouded in an opera box or alone in the gardens, the devilish rogue comes out to play. It made for some scorching scenes.
“Does the opera stir your blood?”
He stared at her profile in the shadows, his gut tightening at the raw pull of her, and confessed, “You stir my blood, Miranda.”
But about halfway through, the pacing stalls out. Miranda always seems to be embarrassed, and she would make a decision regarding Sebastian only to flounder at the last minute. It made her seem wishy-washy, and I wanted her to stand up and tell him to sod off or realize he doesn’t want a straight-laced bride. He wants her.
It would have also helped the pacing with Sebastian’s inner turmoil. Sebastian brings up Miranda’s station and upbringing way too often, and while I can sympathize with Sebastian’s past, I didn’t think it was significant enough for him to hold off as long as he did. The back and forth became repetitive and a good editing would have rounded out the story better.
If the Duke Demands is a great start to this series, and I can imagine the books for the other Carlisle brothers will involve plenty more hijinks. This is a quick, fun read that offers lots of laughs and the feel-good moments I expect in a historical romance.