From the back cover:
They were caught in a storm of reckless love, torn between an unforgiving past and a future of unforgettable passion...
Once, she had fled a hostile world to live in exile on Capri. Now, the widowed Joanna Sherwood's only recourse is to return to her native England, to the scandal that destroyed her, to a society that shunned her, and to the one man who brought about her downfall: Adrian Delacourt, the Duke of Roxbury, her first husband, her first love, and the father of her beloved son....
But something else is awaiting Joanna: a sanctuary she never dreamed possible--and an elusive happiness found only in the irresistible embrace of her loving enemy....
And my review:
I really enjoyed Anita Mills' novella THE CHRISTMAS STRANGER, found in Harlequin's Christmas Rogues collection. So when I came across a bunch of her books, I immediately snapped them up. But I was disappointed in THE DUKE'S DOUBLE.
The book had amazing promise. This premise was a fresh one, not something that's been done to death. The writing is engaging and flowing. So what's the problem? The characters--they all drove me nuts! The things they did made no sense!
For example, when the hero accused the heroine of adultery with his best friend, what did she do? Nothing! She didn't bother to say one word in her own defense, even after the hero started divorce proceedings. The explanation for this was that the heroine was so hurt that the hero would even question her that she didn't want to dignify it with an answer. Uh....what? Yes, I totally understand why that would hurt, but if it had been me, I would have been protesting my innocence to anyone who would listen. I would not just stand there, say nothing, and make myself look guilty. And later, even when the hero keeps accusing her, giving her numerous chances to set the record straight, she just keeps reiterating that it's "all in the past". Again, wouldn't any normal woman scream, "I never cheated on you! How can you even think that of me?"
The hero drove me crazy with the way he believed his mother's lies without bothering to question them, even though he knew that his mother hated the heroine. Wouldn't that make you think that she might have a motive to lie? Plus the heavy-handed way he tries to take the heroine's son from her when he finds out that he is the father made me really dislike him.
Also, the hero's mother told her lies because she hated the heroine and wanted to get rid of her (because she wasn't "worthy" of being a duchess). Okay, but your son getting a divorce is okay? Maybe in today's modern times, but in Regency times, the scandal would have been devastating to the entire family. Yet that's never really explored.
And the son, Justin, always saying that "papa loved me best". And no one bothers to correct him, even though he repeatedly says it in front of his younger brother. Talk about a good way to make his younger brother feel worthless. I wanted to give Justin a good spanking. Just because you lost a parent at a young age does not give you a free pass to act like a spoiled brat. And it should be noted that the younger brother (Robin) had lost his father too, yet he was a total sweetheart. I think he was one of the only few characters I liked in this book, but unfortunately, he played a very minor part.
I never really felt like Adrian and Joanna should be together. If their love was so fragile before, why should I believe that it will last this time? I felt that the heroine picked the wrong man--I would have much rather seen her with Johnny, the man she gets engaged to during the course of this book.
Not recommended, unless you are a hard-core fan of Anita Mills and are determined to read her entire backlist. I have some other books by this author on my to-be-read bookshelf, but after being disappointed three times in a row, I'm not holding out a lot of hope.