this is the first book i've read by adele ashworth and it definitely won't be the last! duke of sin, while flawed in a few ways, is ultimately a great story because of the two lead characters. the heroine, vivian rael-lamont is strong, independent, and forthright with her emotions. rarely does the hero have to guess how she's feeling. she is candid and honest about them whenever he inquired.
the hero, william raleigh, duke of trent, is just as candid, which brings a mature voice to this story. it's not a love story between an experienced hero who falls in love with an innocent and naive chit, this is a love story between two mature adults who aren't afraid to say how they feel or tell each other what they want, and THAT'S why i love this story.
the emotions here ring true and are never melodramatic. ashworth does an amazing job of depicting the characters in a way in which the reader can see the vulnerability they share because of the hardships they've experienced in their lives. despite what other reviewers have said, i DID see the chemistry between the two and saw the love develop on a deeper level. i could see it because vivian and william were fleshed out so that the reader could see all facets of them, which made the reader understand why they would fall in love with each other.
the one main weakness of the story was the plot. the blackmail plot was so convoluted that even when it was resolved, i still didn't quite understand what had happened. however, the pace of the book was such to where the plot meant little to me because the focus was always on vivian and william, which is how i like my romance novels. so what if the secondary characters weren't drawn out? it didn't hinder the development of the love story between vivian and william, so i didn't care. it made the whole thing more intimate.
one strength of the plot was that william guessed early that vivian wasn't a nefarious creature bent on ruining him. he knew she was being blackmailed, so the reader was spared all of the crap that goes with misunderstandings like that: cruel treatment of the heroine at the hands of the hero followed by the heroine desperately trying to convince the hero she's telling the truth. sure, there are a couple of secrets that vivian held close to the vest, but they were ultimately revealed in such a way that the hero didn't doubt her, except for one time and his friends help him recognize the fact that she's innocent of any wrongdoing against him so it only lasted for a second.
and BOY...those love scenes were as hot as they come. ashworth is gifted in both her description of sensual tension and verbal foreplay, all without it ever becoming a vulgar thing. there were also some, um, UNUSUAL love scenes here. let's just say that william can be a bit overeager and finish things before they begin. the fact that he couldn't control his desire DEFINITELY made him sexier in my eyes.
while i do agree that some of the dialogue was more sophisticated than i would have expected for victorian england, frankly, i found it refreshing. just because it's not the usual dialogue doesn't mean it's not likely to have existed. i'm not a stickler for that kind of thing.
so in the end, strong character rendering, burnng sensual tension and some of the most luscious love scenes i have ever read, made this a good story in my book. if those are the kinds of things you look for in a romance novel, then pick this one up. if you're more of a stickler for accuracy in historical data, are uncomfortable with graphic love scenes, or are easily distracted by a weak plot, then you probably won't like this book.