Sandy M’s review of She Tempts the Duke (Lost Lords of Pembrook, Book 1) by Lorraine Heath
Historical Romance published by Avon 31 Jan 12
Lorraine Heath never fails to pull every emotion under the sun out of me when I read her books. And when she does it all through her heroes is what brings me back to her books time after time. In her new Lost Lords of Pembrook series, we meet three brothers who have gone through hell to return home to regain what was stolen from them years before when they were just children. In this book, it’s the oldest brother, the Duke of Keswick, who starts the series off, bringing along guilt, responsibility, and, most amazing of all to him, love.
The Pembrook lords’ frightening plight begins when they are young boys who have been imprisoned by their uncle after their father’s mysterious and very convenient death. Knowing what’s probably in store for them, Sebastian, the oldest and, thus, the next duke, is working out how to escape when the door to the castle tower opens to give them their first view of their fate. But fate has decided to smile on them by sending their friend Mary, who overheard the evil plans laid out for the lads. Grabbing a handful of Pembrook soil, Sebastian and his brothers leave their lives behind, scatter into the wind, and vow to return in ten years to take back what is rightfully theirs. It takes two years more than that before they’re finally reunited.
Once they are back in London, all hardened men by the lives they had to lead to survive, each on their own because Sebastian believed they’d be better off separated, they make their grand entrance by crashing their uncle’s ball. What better way to make their claim and give society notice the Duke of Keswick is alive and well. However, because they’ve not mingled and entertained in their lost years with society as they normally would have, their reception is met with gasps and gossip. Luckily Mary is in attendance, and, though hurt by their lack of communication over the years, is the only one to welcome them home, to try to help them fit into a world they know nothing about.
Though Mary is betrothed, she helps Sebastian at every turn, taking the chance of ruining her reputation each time. But she can’t leave him to fend on his own, especially when people stare in horror at his scars received while serving his country during wartime. They’re friends and she can’t abandon him and his siblings to the voracious rumor mill that can leave them on the outside looking in. Knowing he can’t have her, and she wouldn’t want him anyway all scarred as he is, Sebastian valiantly tries to stay away from Mary, even tries to find someone else who would make a good duchess for him, but after too many meetings alone, Mary’s fiance calls off the engagement and it’s left to Sebastian to pick up the pieces of her reputation.
Sebastian is riddled with guilt and responsibility throughout this book, plus his need for revenge against his uncle also pulls at him. He tries to find out what happened to his brothers during their years apart, but neither of them is willing to talk about those times. He left Rafe, the youngest, at a workhouse and sold Tristan, his twin, into service on the seas. Rafe’s cries not to be left alone and Tristian’s stoic silence still weigh on him even after so many years. It’s Mary who soothes his soul, but even that is something he can’t call his own – until after marriage to her, something he dare not want. But as alluring she is in his bed after they are wed, his scars come between them – only because he allows it, because Mary has looked past his scars since the moment they came face to face again – and Pembrook and his need for revenge seem to be more important to him than his wife.
As she always does, Lorraine Heath pulls emotion from the reader from the beginning. The reunion of the brothers is a bittersweet but happy moment, and I wish we could have actually seen it instead of being told about it. Mary is in the middle of a dilemma of a lifetime, wanting to be the dutiful wife expected of her but needing to be the friend necessary to help the Pembrook lords. You can feel her frustration and indecision. You can see her love for Sebastian grow, knowing she doesn’t realize what’s happening. The time she spends with Sebastian when he’s ill is full of unrealized love. Sebastian’s obsession with tearing down the castle tower where he and his brothers were imprisoned are such heart-wrenching scenes. This book is full of such scenes.
I doubt there’s anything Lorraine Heath can’t do, as far as I’m concerned, when writing her books. Her talent is huge and nearly unsurpassed. I look forward to Tristan’s and Rafe’s stories, finding out what happened to them in those intervening years. More emotion to leave me high and dry. I can’t wait.
Read [name of reviewer]’s review here.
Three young heirs, imprisoned by an unscrupulous uncle, escaped—to the sea, to the streets, to faraway battle—awaiting the day when they would return to reclaim their birthright.
Sebastian Easton always vowed he would avenge his stolen youth and title. Now back in London, the rightful Duke of Keswick—returning from battle a wounded, hardened, changed man—cannot forget the brave girl who once rescued him and his brothers from certain death.
Lady Mary Wynne-Jones paid dearly for helping the imprisoned young Lords of Pembrook, and she remembers well the promise she made to Sebastian all those years ago: to meet him once more in the abbey ruins where they shared a bold, forbidden kiss. While Mary is now betrothed to another, a friendship forged with dark secrets cannot be ignored. Unexpected passion soon burns dangerously between them, tempting Sebastian to abandon his quest for retribution and fight for a love that could once again set him free.
No excerpt available.
Other books in this series:
Lord of Temptation – October 2012