The Taming of the Duke Mass Market Paperback – Mar 28 2006
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From Publishers Weekly
James's delightful third installment in her successful Four Sisters Regency series (Much Ado About You; Kiss Me, Annabel) revolves around Imogen Maitland, the mischievous sister of Kiss Me, Annabel's titular heroine. Now a widow residing at Holbrook Court in Suffolk, England, Imogen lives under the care of her guardian, Rafe Jourdain, the stubborn, drunken duke of Holbrook charged with the parentless Essex sisters' care. As she clashes with the controlling, brutish Rafe, Imogen believes she is uninterested, but helping Rafe through painful alcohol detox helps spark the attraction between them. When Imogen meets Rafe's illegitimate half-brother, Gabe Spenser, however, she becomes determined to pursue an illicit affair with Gabe; soon, Rafe is impersonating Gabe—complete with a fake mustache—in a scandalous nighttime outing with Imogen that pushes them to the edge of temptation and forces Rafe to seriously consider the delicate proposition of seducing his own ward. Before long, Rafe becomes determined to pursue Imogen—for his wife. James's intelligent, believable dialogue rises above the often trite language found in historical romances, giving the characters depth and substance. James's considerable talents for clever prose and tight, breezy plotting are on full display, promising a perennial delight in each coming adventure of the Essex sisters. (Mar. 28)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
*Starred Review* Imogen Maitland designed her entire life around Draven Maitland, but only two weeks after their honeymoon, Draven died. A year later, Imogen is just beginning to entertain the thought of taking a lover when she meets Gabriel Spenser, the illegitimate half brother of her guardian, Rafe, the Duke of Holbrook. A Cambridge professor of divinity, Gabe shares Rafe's dark good looks, but, fortunately, he doesn't emulate Rafe's annoying habit of trying to direct Imogen's life or curb her taste for scotch. When Rafe agrees to host a theatrical production for Gabe at his estate, Imogen sets a plan in motion to get to know the sexy professor better only to discover that the only man she truly desires after all is the argumentative, stubborn, yet totally irresistible Rafe. RITA Award-winning James' latest addition to her Essex sisters series is truly delectable. James' writing is graceful and witty, her plot delightfully clever, and her characterization--including the captivating Miss Gillian Pythian-Adams--is nothing less than brilliant. John Charles
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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THE STORY: Imogen, Lady Maitland, has been widowed for a year and is ready to take a lover. She targets Gabe Spenser, the illegitimate brother of her former guardian, Rafe, Duke of Holbrook. Imogen has had a contentious relationship with Holbrook especially as he managed to almost drink himself to death. Newly sober, however, Rafe, has no intention of allowing Imogen to engage in illicit relations with another man. He masquerades as his brother intending to help Imogen avoid ruin. Instead, Rafe ends up engaging in a series of inappropriate encounters with the woman who constantly bedevils and entrances him.
OPINION: I was looking forward to this book because Rafe and Imogen seemed likely to set things on fire considering their arguments in past books. In that sense, I was not disappointed. Rafe and Imogen had an obvious connection from the beginning. Imogen spent much of the previous books being petulant and then grieving. As this book begins, she recognizes her prior bad actions and begins to act in a more mature way.
I liked the story about Rafe turning to sobriety after years of wallowing in drunkenness. My concern is that he makes that change and then his romance with Imogen happens so quickly after. While the epilogue assures readers that Rafe has been able to stick with his sobriety, I couldn't help but feel apprehension during the story. It might be because of my personal experience with alcoholics or my modern thinking about the disease, but I found it difficult to turn off that part of my brain during the story. I wished that Rafe had decided to kick his drinking in a prior book to give some space before his romance with Imogen. That being said, there is nothing pretty or easy about Rafe's journey.
Or maybe it was just one too many things for me to accept. The idea that Rafe could masquerade as his half brother without Imogen immediately realizing the deception was something that I had to accept on faith because it was just too impossible to imagine it actually happening. It was a silly farce much like the Shakespeare tropes upon which it is based, but it is not realistic. I did enjoy the situations it allowed Rafe and Imogen to become embroiled in and gave the story some much needed humor.
I just thought that there was too much crammed in here that it didn't allow the romance the space and time and quiet it needed to really grab me. There was so much happening that Rafe and Imogen's romance seemed to be resolved too quickly for my tastes. It just felt like there needed to be a little more development at the end to fully satisfy me.
WORTH MENTIONING: There are two romances in this book. Readers of MUCH ADO ABOUT YOU will be pleased to see the Miss Pythian-Adams again.
CONNECTED BOOKS: THE TAMING OF THE DUKE is the third book in the Essex Sisters series It can be read as a standalone although I think it is better to read Imogen's whole journey which begins in book one.
STAR RATING: I give this book 3.5 stars.
I read and liked the authors thoughts on her website, about the characters and Imogen's struggles with trusting her insticts (ie knowing on some level that it was Rafe but not listening to herself right away) which agreed with what I got from the book. I thought the additional chapter she wrote where Imogen tells Rafe when she knew was nicely written, perhaps reading it would make the book more satisfing to some. It seems I felt she knew, long before some of the other reviewers/readers here did.
If you think a ***Spoiler*** would help you enjoy the book better (perhaps a library book if your still wary) I can tell you when she knew...
...when she recognized that "Gabe's" hands were rough like someone who works with horses.