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on 6 March 2011
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.

This is a series which can be read as stand alone books or in the order they
are written. I always find it easier to follow characters and their family
lines if read in order. I'm sure we'll see more family come out of the
woodwork, meaning more stories, which is a good thing, because Ms. Petersen
weaves a great historical romance. Love, sex and friendship with the
background of a beautiful country and time, can't get any better than that!
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on 27 August 2012
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. Lots of sex ensues ;-), although we're talking "everything but" here, as Rhys is determined to make sure Anne doesn't become pregnant as this will make it impossible for them to separate.

Eventually, however, he realises how much he needs her, and joins forces with Simon to track down the blackmailer and hatch a plan to squash him and his dastardly plot! And in fact, this is one of the best parts of the story.

I liked the way that Rhys changed throughout the book. We get a glimpse of him as a boy in the prologue, where it's made clear that he was kind and honourable, and had the potential to become a warm and decent man. Not long after that, however, his "father" took charge of his upbringing and turned him into the cold, haughty man we meet at the beginning of the story proper. But by the end of the book, he's on the way to becoming the man he should have become.

Anne has been in love with Rhys for as long as she can remember, although has never let him know - he's far too "proper" to want to be encumbered with protestations of affection! She seems, at the start to be a bit spineless, but it becomes quickly apparent that she's strong-willed and determined as she insists on staying with Rhys, even though he keeps trying to send her away. There were times I wanted to shake her and tell her to let him stew in his own misery, but bit by bit, she got under his skin until she made him realise he couldn't live without her, and that he'd need to change his plan of action so they could stay together.

Overall then, I enjoyed the book, even though I thought it was a bit light on the plot.
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on 19 March 2016
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