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on 26 June 2013
Originally published at The Rookie Romance Blog.

What the Duke Desires is a sweet and passionate romance, it was brilliant with an engaging plot. It made me laugh and cry, and had a gripping start that sucked me straight into the story.

Lisette is the illegitimate daughter of a Viscount, who is left penniless with her mother and brother, when her father dies unexpectedly and her half-brother, George, refuses to acknowledge their father's deathbed attempt to leave them provided for. Lisette and her family leave England, and return to their mother's home in France. Years later, and Lisette returns to England, to live with her other half-brother, Dom, and help him with his business.
Then Max, the Duke of Lyons, bursts into her life, declaring that Tristan has contacted him to claim that his long ago abducted brother is in fact alive. He also believes that Tristan is most likely a swindler, trying to prey on his family's pain. To protect Tristan, Lisette journeys with Max to try and find him and prove his innocence. But on the journey, the sparks fly between Lisette and Max, threatening to ignite a fire in each other's hearts.

Lisette was a fab heroine. She has real trust issues when it comes to the majority of men, pretty much except her brothers. She vows to never be a man's mistress. She's strong and fearless in the face of Max's blustering, and would do anything for her family. I often find that in an effort to make the heroine strong and feisty, they can become annoying but it definitely wasn't the case with Lisette! She is considerate and has a very compassionate heart.
Max was also a fab hero! He has lots of issues, most stemming from the kidnapping of his older brother Peter and apparent madness that runs in males in his family. He has a deep rooted fear that he'll end up mad and alone, which leads him to try to push Lisette away repeatedly. He's very loyal and honourable, and I was so thrilled when Lisette finally broke down the walls around his heart.
They were a very sweet couple, with a chemistry that steamed up the pages.

Sabrina Jeffries always writes wonderful romances and this is no exception. The romance is sweet and through the journey was troubled the HEA is so worth it! I was completely enthralled as Lisette and Max try to track down Tristan, and to solve the mystery behind Peter's abduction. Add in to the mix a vengeful half-brother (on Lisette's side) and you won't be able to put the book down!

*I received a review copy from the publisher, via Edelweiss, for my honest review. Thank you!
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on 18 June 2013

WHAT THE DUKE DESIRES is the first storyline in The Duke's Men historical romance series by Sabrina Jeffries with the introduction of Maximilian Cale aka The Duke of Lyons and the woman who will steal more than his heart but his soul and the very air that he breathes-Lisette Bonnaud.

The storyline focuses on the Duke's search for the man who claims to know the whereabouts of Max's missing and presumably dead brother and how this search will bring Max up close and personal with Lisette. When it is discovered that Lisette's brother Tristan is also missing, the couple will embark on a cross continent journey that will force Max and Lisette to pose as husband and wife to ensure her reputation stays intact.

There is much family background history revealed throughout the storyline including the introduction of Lisette's brothers and extended family of Maximilian Cale. Lisette is more than conscience and aware of her lack of social standing within society and therefore entering into any sort of relationship with the Duke, she fears will tarnish his reputation. And the Duke's family history, although most of it not public knowledge, has the man denying his feelings for the woman with whom he has fallen in love. A history of secrets, betrayal and lies will be revealed forcing Max to walk away from a future with Lisette. When spiteful and heartbreaking words are exchanged, Max knows he has damned himself to a life without the woman he loves.

The sexual tension within the storyline was hit and miss due to the continuous battle of words between the couple and, in particular the Duke's (Max) occasional snippy attitude and highbrow manner. His constant need to use words in anger, against Lisette, made him a difficult character at times to embrace even though Lisette was more than willing to forgive the man every time. In many novels, the back and forth banter fuels the sexual pressure but there was something missing in this particular story. Max's attraction to Lisette was cooled with thoughts of his own family secrets, and Lisette knew that her mother's reputation would push away any thoughts of a future with the Duke as her own reputation by tarnished by association. Whenever the couple appeared to make headway in their relationship, painful memories and potential legal liabilities would interfere.

Most of the storyline focuses on the developing relationship between Max and Lisette and, the build-up to discovering the truth behind the Duke's missing brother. The big reveal and identity of everyone concerned read like a who's who in the family tree. There were so many different branches the family tree started to look like a forest-but for the trees.

What The Duke Desires is a fast-paced introductory storyline that reveals the tainted history behind two different families, yet very similar on many levels. Money does not make one immune to gossip and disease, and a life of struggle will soften a woman's heart towards a man who has lived an entire life built on a lie.

see al of my reviews at : thereadingcafe(dot)com
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on 14 August 2013
I've enjoyed all of the books which I have read by Sabrina Jeffries (and there have been a few) and this was no exception. Lisette Bonnard is the illigitimate daughter of a french actress and a Viscount, who is left penniless (together with her mother and brothers Dom and Tristan) when her father dies unexpectedly and her half-brother George disowns them and accuses Tristan of stealing a horse from him (which he was actually given by his dying father). Lisette, Tristan and her mother go to France whilst Dom stays in England and sets up a private investigator business and ultimately when her mother dies Lisette moves back to England to help Dom out with his business. Then Max, Duke of Lyons comes on the scene demanding to know the whereabouts of Tristan, because Tristan has made contact with him stating that he might know the whereabout of the Duke's long lost brother (who he thought was dead) and Tristan then ends up going missing. Anyway the story continues with Max & Lisette travelling to France to try to find Tristan who they eventually find on a quaranteened ship, but not with the Duke's brother but his cousin. In the meantime mean George is having them all followed because he still holds a grudge and ends up putting Tristan in goal. This all happens around Max and Lisette's growing attraction for each other and the sorting of various doubts of why they should or shouldn't be together and ultimately Max saves the day and gets to marry the girl. I enjoyed this book, I wouldn't say it was Sabrina Jeffries best but it was an easy read.
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on 29 July 2013
This the first in a new series of books by Sabrina Jeffries, and I certainly plan to read the others in the series on the strength of this one.

Lisette Bonnaud and her brother Tristan are the illegitimate children of Viscount Rathmore and his French-born mistress, a former actress, who lives with her children in Yorkshire. When their father dies, leaving them nothing, the new viscount, George, who has long hated his father's "other" family, wastes no time in evicting them from their home; but not before Tristan, young and hot-headed, has stolen George's favourite horse and sold it in order to provide some immediate funds to support his family.

Fortunately for Tristan and Lisette, their other half-brother, Dominic Manton, has always been their friend, and he helps Tristan to leave the country, knowing that George will take great pleasure in having him arrested and hanged for thievery. (Horse stealing was a hanging offence at the time the story is set).

Several years later, we meet Dominic and Lisette in London. Estranged from his brother because of his defence of his half-siblings, Dom has to make his own way in the world and is running a successful investigation agency. He is about to depart London to work on a case in Edinburgh, leaving Lisette to run the office.

Not long after he has left, Lisette receives an unexpected visitor in the form of Maximilian Cale, the Duke of Lyons. He tells her that he has received a communication from Tristan regarding an old family tragedy - the kidnap and subsequent death of his elder brother - and is insistent that Lisette tells him immediately where he can find Tristan.

Lisette is astonished at Lyons' request. She had no idea Tristan was in England as he still has a warrant out for his arrest and Lyons' suspicious, dismissive manner immediately gets her hackles rising.

"Forgive me, madam, it appears that you and I got off on the wrong foot."

"You got off on the wrong foot. I merely watched you shove it into your mouth."

The air fairly crackles with antagonism until Lyons realises that trying to bully answers out of the young Frenchwoman will get him nowhere and decides to confide a little of his situation to Lisette.

What follows is an enjoyable mystery story in which Max and Lisette travel to France to find Tristan. For the sake of propriety, Lisette suggests they travel as plain Mister Cale and his sister until a chance encounter with a neighbour puts paid to that idea and they are instead forced to travel as a married couple. I confess to the fact that the "pretend couple" is a favourite trope of mine, and I thought this one was handled very well.

The advantage of a road-trip story is that it gives the reader time to get to know both principals, and allows the attraction between them to develop at a realistic pace. But while Max is upfront with Lisette from the outset, she is more reticent and although she is not untruthful, she lies by omission at times; and he finds it difficult to reconcile the fact that he knows she is holding something back with his growing attraction to her.

Both of them are carrying a couple of cases of emotional baggage as well. Lisette doesn't want to end up like her mother - with a couple of children, no means of support and disappointed in the man she loves; and Max is living daily with the prospect that he may someday succumb to the madness that killed both his father and his uncle. I have to say that I was grateful for the way the author dealt with Max's fears in a manner that eschewed melodrama or turning him into a clichéd "tortured hero". He knows what he could be facing and has allowed that fear to dictate the way he lives his life, staying aloof and building walls around his heart. But we are allowed frequent glimpses of the man beneath, one who craves love and companionship and who has much to give in return. The scene where Max breaks down because he is unable to sit helplessly by the bedside of his dying cousin is truly heart-wrenching.

Max and Lisette are both very sympathetic characters and it is easy to understand their mutual attraction. They counterbalance each other - Lisette's humanity often softens Max's haughtiness, his intelligence complements her intuition and both are fiercely loyal to those they love. I particularly enjoyed the way Ms Jeffries explored just what it meant to be a duke in the society of the time. When dukes are such a staple of much romantic fiction, it is easy to forget just how powerful these men were. Despite their proliferation in novels, there are actually not that many of them (about twenty or so) and many of them today are members of the Royal Family. So when Max has to travel without the advantages of his title, he really feels the lack to begin with - until he realises that it is actually rather freeing to be simple "Mister" Cale. And conversely, in the later stage of the book, when Max "reassumes" his title, it is fascinating to see just how much power he wields.

The only thing that prevented me from giving this book 5 stars is that it feels as though rather too much plot was crammed into the last quarter of the story. I liked the fact that quite a lot of time was devoted to Max and Lisette's journey and to building the relationship between them, but that probably meant less time for the dénouement.

Overall, the book boasts an interesting plot and two very attractive protagonists. The writing is excellent, the romance is well-developed and there is plenty of humour and intrigue. I'm really looking forward to reading more about "The Duke's Men".
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on 17 December 2013
I love historical love stories and Sabrina Jeffries never fails to supply a good story line and interesting characters. The book starts off explaining the situation of the illegitamite children and moves on to how they have grown up. With a brother still chasing down his illegitamate brother for stealing a horse and a Duke looking for history on his brother, chasing the sister it really had some punch. Good book would definately recommend.
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on 19 December 2014
Enjoyed this another excellent story. A hero who saves the day and his feisty heroine great read looking forward to the next instalment of this series
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on 27 August 2013
Good story with lots of ad venture and intrigue and a passionate romance. Enjoyed this book but it didn't wow me.
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