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The Unclaimed Duchess (The Billingham Bastards Series) Mass Market Paperback – 1 Sep 2010

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Product details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Avon (1 Sept. 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061934992
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061934995
  • Product Dimensions: 10.6 x 2.4 x 17.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 417,569 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

From the Back Cover

The life of a duchess has its ups and downs.

Betrothed at birth to the heir of one of England's loftiest titles, Lady Anne Danvers has been raised to run grand estates and host glittering parties. Which leaves her ill-prepared when her husband of one week rides off without a word, with no intention of returning.

Rhys Carlisle, Duke of Waverly, never wanted a love match—but he never dreamed he'd be abandoning his beautiful bride right after their blissful honeymoon. Alas, a terrible secret has shattered his world and he cannot face the truth . . . or the people he cares about most.

To entice back the husband she's long desired but barely knows, Anne will employ any means necessary—a surprisingly pleasurable proposition for them both. But the dangerous swirl of lies, deceits, and blackmail surrounding them merely grows stronger as their hearts grow closer, threatening to tear apart the passionate love affair they've only just begun . . .

About the Author

Two of Jenna Petersen's childhood dreams wereto be a ballerina and a baseball player. Those didn't work out,but she's pleased to be following another childhood dream,writing books for a living. And what better than romance,where dreams come true on every page? Jenna lives in centralIllinois with her high school sweetheart husband andtwo taskmaster cats. She loves to hear from readers.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Angie..xX on 6 Mar. 2011
Format: Kindle Edition
I was intrigued by this book, it doesn't start out as a normal historical
romance, we learn a bit of history and then we move into the future of the
main characters and pick up at the marriage. Which in usual romances we
learn about the characters during courtship. The Prologue has our heroine,
Anne as a six-year-old girl and our hero Rhys a twelve-year-old boy. They
meet, knowing that they are betrothed. Then fast forward to after their
short honeymoon, twenty years later. We have the angst of our heroine who
has always been in love with our hero, and she is worried that his feelings
aren't returned.

Anne is rather feisty yet demure, and unfortunately Rhys is an unemotional
snob, thanks to his father's influence. Rhys' good friend Simon Crathorne,
Duke of Billingham from Ms. Petersen's prior story, What the Duke Desires,
tells him that there's a blackmailer out to ruin all their lives, especially
Rhys'. Rhys takes off to protect Anne and his family name and refreshing
enough Anne, showing some backbone, forces Simon to tell her where Rhys
went. Anne finds Rhys and they live in a seaside cottage, getting closer
every day - with Rhys protecting Anne, refuses to tell her what the problem
is and refuses to sex her in order not to father a child.

At a village party, Rhys meets Caleb Talbot, the third son who has been
disinherited and has been missing from Society, which is the next book in
the series. Rhys finds out what the blackmailer has to ruin his life, his
parentage. Even tho it's correct to reveal his parentage or lack there of,
if Rhys does he knows his marriage is over.
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By Caz on 27 Aug. 2012
Format: Kindle Edition
I didn't realise when I read this book that it was part of a series and that I'd skipped the first one!

Anyway. I've got mixed feelings about it; on the one hand the premise was intriguing, that the rather repressed and haughty Duke of Waverly is in fact, a bastard, while on the other, it was a bit of a bonk-fest! Not that I have anything against bonk-fests - it was just that sometimes I felt that the sex-scenes were there to pad things out.

That said though, Jenna Petersen writes them very well indeed :-)

In terms of the actual story, I thought the relationship between Rhys and Simon was well handled. Rhys is clearly a stuffed shirt - although as the prologue shows us, he wasn't always that way - who has been brought up by his autocratic "father" to believe that his position in society and reputation are all important, and that anyone below his own rank is a lesser being. Simon Billingham is the closest thing to a friend he has, and even though there is a lot of tension between them at times, it's obvious that there is a great deal of mutual respect between them.

This, then, is the story of how Rhys proposes to deal with the prospect of his illegitimacy becoming known by the "ton" and society at large due to the work of a blackmailer. He decides he wants to fess up himself rather than submit to blackmail; doing so will mean riducule and censure, and even though he will retain his title, his social standing will be decimated. He therefore decides that he and his wife, Anne, must separate, to spare her as much of the scandal as possible. This is typical of him - he makes decisions without reference to others; Anne has no choice in the matter.

But she's having none of it, and insists that she wants to stay with him.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 15 reviews
24 of 27 people found the following review helpful
First rate tale of unconditional love 31 Aug. 2010
By Melissa - Published on
Format: Mass Market Paperback
At first, it is difficult to like the hero of Jenna Petersen's latest novel, The Unclaimed Duchess. He is condescending, arrogant and dismissive of others. I wondered how the heroine could ever love such a man and yet by the end of this novel I liked this aristocrat thanks to circumstances which force him to become a better person.

Anne Danvers has been betrothed to Rhys Carlisle, Duke of Waverly since she was but an infant. Anne has always known she would marry Rhys and she is very much in love with him when they do tie the knot. The story really takes place after their wedding, when the couple returns from their honeymoon. Rhys discovers a secret which is shattering. Unable to cope he withdraws to a cottage by the sea where his family vacationed when he was a child.

Anne is bewildered, "Why has her husband left her so abruptly." She follows him to his small cottage intent on making their marriage work and she certainly wants to know why her husband has abandoned her so quickly after their wedding. Anne is sensitive, generous and very kind. For an aristocrat, she is pretty egalitarian, her gentle manners and bountiful nature are not reserved just for members of the ton.

Her husband is not cut from the same magnanimous cloth, he is aloof, and believes he is better than almost everyone around him due to his lofty title. This stems from his late father's stern reprimands about associating with village children and his father's constant reminders that their noble lines place them far above others. Rhys is a very controlled man, he does not love Anne and married her because she would make a fine duchess and they seemed to get on well together.

The time Anne and Rhys spend in the cottage is almost a place out of time. Rhys lowers his defenses and truly discovers his bride. He is surprised by her determination and her adaptability; they have no servants only a family which helps out around the house. Rhys is not forthcoming about his secrets and it is amazing how patient Anne is with him. Her love is unconditional which astounds Rhys. The leads have an absolutely passionate life to include the marriage bed, thanks mostly to Anne who is adventurous and affectionate.

This novel is a delight, I read it quickly. Anne is the epitome of a romantic heroine, bold, great hearted and loving. Her total acceptance of her husband demonstrates unconditional love and I enjoyed Rhys's transformation from an overbearing aristocrat to a truly noble man.
14 of 17 people found the following review helpful
A little too overwrought for me 17 Sept. 2010
By Amazon Customer - Published on
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This is a fabulous book if you like lots of angst, grim heroes and adoring heroines. Rhys Carlisle, Duke of Waverly finds out that he is a bastard and realises his whole life is a sham. Because of his place in society he feels he cannot go on living as a Duke which means he must renounce his title and wife. The snag is...his wife loves him very much and does not want to let him go. The rest of the book deals with how Rhys and Anne overcome misunderstands, rigid society attitudes and blackmail to claim a happy married life.

The book started off extremely well...I was glued to the plot. But things got a little too overwrought for me, and I didn't like the emphasis on sex...I would have preferred a lot more tension and struggle between Anne and Rhys before they admitted their love. I am also not sure I liked the was too pat and organised. But...I think a lot of readers will really enjoy this love story. Not a keeper for me, but still a great read and a definite improvement on What the Duke Desires.
6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
I really really wanted to like it 3 Mar. 2011
By JK - Published on
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I love romance books. This was my first Jenna Petersen book and, after seeing all of the wonderful reviews for it, I was extremely excited to get it in the mail. The excitement stopped around page 20. The entire book is a repetitive "yes I want her...but no, I must not!" over and over and over again. This has been done before and by much better authors. Petersen's writing is amazingly adolescent. One of the early things I learned in English class was to show, not tell, and the first 50 or so pages have almost no dialogue and simply create a one-dimensional heroine whose entire existence is getting the Duke to love her and a hero whose entire existence is maintaining the importance of bloodlines. There are very few secondary characters, and most of them appear in the last half of the book to be able to wrap up the storyline. I'm sticking to Lisa Kleypas, Sabrina Jeffries, and Elizabeth Hoyt. Jenna Petersen will be a "library book only" author for me.
Stilted Characters in a Tired Plot... Where's the Romantic Journey? 20 Feb. 2013
By Rydia - Published on
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Cut to the Chase:
Sometimes a novel just sets off every pet peeve you’ve ever had about a genre. This is one of those romances where the dialogue seems forcibly stilted (in an effort to remind you of the characters’ rank and the time period), where the heroine has been in love with the hero since childhood (and thus you’re given no real reason for the love), where everyone is either a duke, an earl or a duke’s bastard, where our protagonists confuse great sex with true love, and where all of the dramatic plot twists that have been culminating are waved away in the final scenes without rhyme or reason (simple solutions that just never occurred to anyone during the first two hundred and fifty pages). I found the characters to be one-sided and underdeveloped, the dialogue boring, and the final climax actually a little insulting (though only if you’re in the medical profession, I suppose; spoilers below).

Greater Detail:
The opening sequence shows Rhys and Anne as children, meeting one another for the first time. They are children, but already betrothed, and I think it’s supposed to show us that Rhys has honorable moments (in that another child pushes Anne and he steps in). His main failing (arrogant and prideful conceit about his exalted station in life) is already on full display — he tells the other children gathered that this is his future duchess and they must treat her with respect. Then he tells his future wife to go and play with the servants out back.

We then quickly jump to the present, where they have both grown into handsome people, and have just returned from their honeymoon. We’re then told that Anne has always loved Rhys (though Rhys is mostly looking for a biddable, respectable wife). I’ve always hated the I’ve-always-secretly-loved-you-trope. I feel like it deprives us the opportunity of watching two people fall in love (and seeing why) which is, for me, one of the primary reasons to read and be interested in a romance novel.

Within the first chapter, Rhys is told by his best friend Simon that he is actually Simon’s half-brother (Simon’s father, also a Duke, apparently had an affair with Rhys’s mother), which immediately forces Rhys into a crisis of faith… and he leaves on horseback. Anne decides to chase after him, gets Simon to tell her where Rhys has likely gone, and the two abscond to a faraway cottage.

This would have been an excellent opportunity for our characters to get to know one another, to have conversations where they reveal more of their characters and start to become vulnerable, multidimensional partners. Instead, Rhys tells Anne that he plans on dissolving their marriage (really quite difficult in those days, especially after consummation), that it’s for the best, and that he doesn’t want to impregnate her. Anne takes this to mean she somehow can convince him to stay, mostly via sex… and then there’s lots of not-sex sex, followed by sex sex… where Anne feels as though she’s getting through and Rhys mostly feels guilty about using Anne. Unfortunately, they’re so busy having sex and not-sex that they pretty much never get to know one another (other than physically) and when they decide to return to London (after like 3? 4? days in their cottage?) nothing has really developed between the two, and we’re two thirds into the novel.

There’s technically nothing wrong with the writing — the dialogue is stilted, but that might be on purpose to remind us of the time period and the characters’ rank (though the servants speak the same stilted-but-perfect English), there are lots of side characters who could be interesting (except they all have more or less one scene where we learn about them and then disappear), and the sex is sensual, but without emotional history to back it up, it feels kind of more like reading porn than romance. So the half a star is for the technically-nothing-wrong part of this book, but from a plot and character development point of view, it gets a zero.

Part of what bothers me so much about this novel is the ending — though I was never actively engaged, the ending actually annoyed me. The entire time, the main character has been struggling with the fact that he’s a bastard as opposed to the legitimate duke. In the end, he suddenly decides to just keep being the duke (which is contrary to his beliefs, really) and just shout down the man blackmailing them (deny, deny, deny). Also, it felt like our hero never grew — he went from being arrogant and feeling as though he knew best to… being arrogant and feeling like he knew best (with some twinges of doubt maybe?). So it feels like the conclusion is that they just decide to live in deceit, since the blackmailer is a bad guy… I get that Rhys has been raised by a duke, etc, etc, but it still felt like, really? That’s the solution? And I think what really got me is that they introduce a doctor (who’s apparently Rhys’s mother’s new lover) in the climactic showdown scene, and the doctor just kind of steps forward and silences all the doubts by declaring the blackmailer insane. Okay, first, I hate when there’s just a magical character introduced in the end who waves his wand, and second, I find it a little offensive that this doctor was willing to lie about a patient, and have a patient committed to an asylum, just because it suits the doctor’s (and his mistress’s) purposes (the doctor says afterwards that the blackmailer does seem a little insane, but that feels like so much fluffy justification towards something he had already committed to).

Comparisons to Other Authors/Books:
If you want a better example of I’ve-always-secretly-loved-you, try Romancing Mister Bridgerton by Julia Quinn; a better example of children who grew up together and then fell in love would be A Secret Love by Stephanie Laurens (which also has the same sensuality factor but has emotional resonance as well as physical attraction), and a better example of arrogant-but-redeemable can be found via Westcliff’s slow transformation in It Happened One Autumn by Lisa Kleypas. Though this is part of a series, I really am not interested enough to go back and read the first or the followup.

c reviews
4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
strong Regency romance 2 Sept. 2010
By Harriet Klausner - Published on
Format: Mass Market Paperback
In 1796 six year old Anne Danvers meets her betrothed since her birth, Rhys Carlisle when he intercedes with an incident with a bullying boy. Anne knew that he was the love of her life though she was a child. Years later in 1816 Anne and Rhys marry in what the Ton assume is a love match. However, a few weeks Later Rhys vanishes without a word to his spouse.

Rhys believed all his life with pride that he was a Waverly. Now he knows the truth that the man who raised him and whose ducal title is his is not his biological father. Instead, he is just another one of the ton of illegitimate sired by the Duke of Billington. Fuming, he left home to rusticate. However, Anne follows on a mission to learn what changed her loving husband into a mocking beast. As her love brings him back into the light, he conceals his secret shame even as a blackmailer threatens to expose him.

The key to this strong Regency romance is the lead couple as Rhys who was always arrogantly proud of one day becoming a duke learns the truth about his birth while Anne proves her strength by being at his side even when he tells her to leave. They make a great couple as his inability to talk to her about what troubles him disturbs her, but she refuses to quit on the love of her life. Jenna Peterson provides a strong character driven historical.

Harriet Klausner
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