She Tempts the Duke

Written by Lorraine Heath
Review by Monica E. Spence

Sebastian Eaton, the rightful Duke of Keswick, longs for revenge. Returning from the battlefields of the Crimea, he reappears in a London ballroom, scarred but determined to reclaim his birthright and those of his two younger brothers, which was stolen by a greedy, murderous uncle.

Lady Mary Wynne-Jones, betrothed to a “nice,” if weak, man, has always had one great flaw: her curiosity. Recognizing Sebastian, her dearest childhood friend, at a ball given by Sebastian’s uncle, Mary identifies Sebastian publicly and confirms his claim to his dukedom. She is determined to see if he remembers their youthful affection and to discover the whys and hows of Sebastian’s disappearance.

Greed, jealousy and familial hatred combine to form the swirling morass that Mary and Sebastian must overcome. How else can they discover the truth behind several convenient “accidents” Keswick’s family has fallen prey to over the years? How else can they admit to the truth behind their love?

This is a more-complex-than-usual romance. Sebastian is a flawed hero, driven by anger and revenge. Mary fights her upbringing and society in order to help her friend, but she does this without parroting 21st-century sensibilities. This seems to be a set up for a series. If so, I look forward to the next books. The Romantic/early Victorian setting is also refreshing. Recommended.