Some of my all-time favorite historical romance books have been written by Christina Dodd - One Kiss From You, Rules of Surrender, Lost in Your Arms, and The Runaway Princess. IN BED WITH THE DUKE started off pretty well and I always love books where the heroine is overlooked, shy, etc. - I thought the fact that Emma had a horrible sense of direction and always got lost was going to add some great humor to the story. The first interaction between Emma and Michael was enjoyable, the setting/plot promised to be very adventurous and action-packed, and the physical scenes between the Reaper and Emma were hot. However, this book ended up being utterly disappointing and in some parts downright offensive.
-- Emma and Michael have far too little interaction in the first 2/3 of the book.
-- We don't get to know Michael very well and he remains throughout the whole of the book a somewhat elusive hero.
-- Emma "falls in love" with the Reaper after about a week and then makes love with him ... even though they've never had a conversation (literally, he's never spoken to her), they don't know one another, and their interactions basically amount to a full week of physically intimate evenings.
-- While she's "falling in love" with the Reaper, she doesn't really like Michael ... so yeah, how does that work out exactly, since he's supposed to be the real hero?
-- The subplot of Prince Sandre falling in love with Emma seemed extremely forced; there appeared to be absolutely no real reason that he would single her out and become so transfixed and obsessed.
-- This book ended so abruptly I thought that maybe there were some pages missing at the end (and certain previously-unmet family members seemed to pop up out of thin air).
I volunteer with a rape crisis hotline and so found the love - a.k.a rape - scene, utterly disgusting. According to the American legal system, the scene between them in the barn qualifies as rape. You have the heroine saying no and struggling; the hero saying, yes you want it, your body is reacting; her saying no again; them having sex. Worst part is that during it all, Emma is saying "no" but apparently thinking "yes" ... does "she said no, but really meant yes" or "she wanted it, just didn't want to admit it" sound familiar? Because those are both justifications rapists use. I like alpha-male heroes as much as the next romance reader, but Michael saying "I own you!" and "I have this right. I take this right!" when talking about having sex with her should turn everyone off.
Christina Dodd has done this in two other books of hers that I read and it was basically the exact same thing and just as disgusting. I really wish she would stop doing that; her normal non-rapist alpha-male heroes are great and she should stick with them. (The other two books were A Well Pleasured Lady and A Well Favored Gentleman).
So did I like the book? No. Should you read it? No. Instead, skip this book and read the four books I listed at the beginning of those review, since those show off Christina Dodd's talent and are actually enjoyable and inoffensive.
This book is apparently part of the "Great Read Guaranteed!" because the Penguin Group is "so confident you will love this book that we are offering a 100% money-back guarantee!" All you have to do is mail them the book, the receipt, and your explanation of why you didn't like the book. So I will be doing that instead of posting it on PaperbackSwap, since I want them to know exactly what it is I object to. [UPDATE, May 11 - Penguin sent me my reimbursement check and just got it today: thank you!]