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I have been a fan of Vicky Dreiling since I read her debut novel. Her books always have a unique twist to the plot. This one is a takeoff on Dancing with the Stars, a TV show that has become hugely popular in recent years. One thing I can count on with Ms. Dreiling’s books is that they are always witty and emotionally-charged. What a Devilish Duke Desires is definitely both.
Harry Norcliffe, the Duke of Grandfield is mourning the loss of his beloved uncle and lamenting the title he has inherited. His mother insists on introducing him to all the young misses on the marriage mart, pointing out to him that it is now his duty to marry well and produce an heir or two. When his mother concocts a scheme to hold a dancing competition at Almack’s, Harry flatly refuses.
Lucy Longmore works two jobs to keep a roof over her grandmother’s head. She is a seamstress most of the day and an assistant dance instructor to Mr. Buckley each afternoon for two hours. When the owner of the dress shop dismisses Lucy because she is no longer willing to allow her the time off to teach her dance classes, Lucy is heartsick, but at least Madame gives her a letter of character, something she lacked when she arrived in London six months before.
On his way home from dinner at his club, Harry hears a woman’s scream and sees a thief trying to steal her basket. He rushes forward while yelling for the thief to stop. The thief takes one look at Harry and dashes away. The woman is Lucy and this starts the wonderful love story between her and the charming Harry.
Lucy’s sweet character stole my heart from the first. Her willingness to take care of her blind grandmother, pulled at my heartstrings. I loved her determination to achieve her goal of owning a dance studio someday. While she is an innocent, she is a sensible young lady with a no nonsense personality. At times she is so sensible that it stands in her way, especially with Harry.
What I loved most about Harry’s character is, while he is very self-possessed with the dignity that befits a duke, he is still a kind-hearted man. His honor shines forth from the first page. I particularly liked the way he did not give in to his mother’s machinations. She tries repeatedly to catch Harry in her net, but he evades her every time, and lets her know that he sees past her ploys.
I found the romance between the couple very moving. The love they have for each other leaps off the page. Ms. Dreiling is a master at building sexual tension. Harry and Lucy do not make love until well into the story, but their kisses are so erotic, I did not even miss it. In fact, I think her timing of the love scene is impeccable.
I want to mention the narrative. I thoroughly enjoyed Elizabeth Jasicki’s narration. She has a very proper English voice that suits the characters in this story perfectly. She also does an excellent job with the dialect of several of the characters who lack refinement. She is a gifted storyteller, and I will look forward to listening to other books she narrates.
While at times, the plot became a bit unbelievable, what carries this story for me is the emotion that Ms. Dreiling is able to give her characters. There were times where tears filled my eyes. I became totally enmeshed with the characters, and I always love it when that happens.
If you enjoy a story that will have you rooting for the hero to win his fair lady, then What a Devilish Duke Desires will delight your fancy. The pacing is excellent and even though it is over four hundred pages, it is a very fast read. This is a story that will have you sighing for the hero and put a smile on your face when you read the last line. The ending is perfect. Happy reading!