Title: Distracting the Duke
Author: Elizabeth Keysian
Series: Wayward in Wessex #1
Genre: Regency Romance
Available: 20th Feb
Devonshire, England, 1820
Determined to avoid the strife-filled marriage of his parents, Marcus, the Duke of Ulvercombe, wants an amenable, biddable wife, and has set his cap for a certain pretty miss. Unfortunately, her vastly opinionated, frustrating, and lamentably beautiful guardian, Lady Clara Tinniswood, keeps distracting him, tempting him to consider a far more tempestuous—and passionate—union.
Recently widowed Lady Clara Tinniswood wants only to organize a quiet new life for herself, beyond the control of any man. But one shockingly unguarded moment while confronted by Marcus’s gloriously naked body catapults her headlong into a forbidden passion and threatens to undermine all her well-laid plans.
Even if Marcus abandons his sweet ideal and surrenders to his growing desire for Clara, there’s one unalterable issue which could destroy their hopes forever…
Source: ARC from Entangled: Scandalous via NetGalley
I mostly enjoyed this country-focused Regency romance, which pits the opinionated, determined widow, Clara, against the opinionated, determined duke, Marcus, who both have very different views when it comes to marriage.
I liked Clara a lot more than Marcus for most of the book. It’s clear her marriage was awful and has deeply affected her views of men, but she’s still determined to find the perfect match for her ward. She cares for her family and wants the best for them, even if she has rather given up on love and happiness for herself. Marcus, by contrast, is rather selfish at times, can be rude and enjoys playing with Clara like an inconsequential play thing. He’s not particularly nice for most of the book, although he does show flashes of unexpected kindness here and there that stopped me from completely disliking him. Despite this they do actually make a good couple, and some of their sparring matches are amusing, I just wish Marcus hadn’t been so blind about certain things for so long.
I also enjoyed the setting and the feel of the book. It sits really nicely in its setting with a good sense of the period. And for the most part I enjoyed the fact it was set in Devon. Although… Devon isn’t in Wessex, so the series title irks me a bit. I’m also very confused about them needing to go all the way to Norfolk in order to enjoy the seaside and seafood. They’re in Devon! Devon has miles and miles of coastline and some of the best seafood and fisheries in the country. Judging by the mention of the moors and sandstone, this book is mostly set near the south coast, so that truly baffled me. It’s fine to just say he has an estate in Norfolk he needs to visit, don’t make up blatant untruths (such as not being able to get fresh seafood) to explain such things.
Away from that, there are some interesting side characters, particularly amongst Clara’s family. A little more character from her ward would have been nice, but her relationship with her brother was an interesting mix of affection and exasperation. I was a little confused about their place in society, though, because there’s a definite sense of resentment towards Marcus’ high position at times. I was also irritated by the use of Lady Clara throughout. Throw in Marcus’ high handedness towards the end, where he forces Clara into a confrontation that he really had no business orchestrating and I’d say that while I did enjoy this book, I didn’t perhaps enjoy it quite as much as I might have hoped.
Overall this was a good start – to this series and as a debut. If you like antagonistic Regency romances, then this has plenty of clashes between its main characters, as well as some lovely period details and added sweetness and heat. I’m interested to see what this author comes up with next.
Distracting the Duke is out February 20th.
Visit Elizabeth Keysian for more details.