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Book CoverSandy M’s review of The Duke’s Perfect Wife (Highland Pleasures, Book 4) by Jennifer Ashley
Historical Romance published by Berkley 3 Apr 12

It’s so good to be reading these Mackenzie Highlanders again. I’ve been curious about Eleanor Ramsay, the woman who walked away from Hart years ago. I’m also surprised Hart didn’t just go get her and drag her home with him. But, as usual, Jennifer Ashley works it all out in a romantic mystery that held me captivated for the day it took me to read this book.

Hart has been thinking of making his way back to Eleanor, knowing she’s the woman he’s going to marry. Despite the fact it didn’t work out between them before. Then when she emerges from a crowd of journalists trailing Hart in his campaign for Prime Minister, his quest becomes easier once he learns why she’s sought him out.

Her scheme will help both Hart and herself, along with her father. Eleanor recently received a photograph of Hart – posing playfully and sinfully for the camera in the nude. She knows this will hurt his chances of obtaining office if it were to become public, so her solution is to help him find the person responsible, thus her offer to work for him to investigate before it’s too late. The money will also come in handy to keep food on the table at home.

Thinking the best way to show her they can have a life together is to keep her close, give her everything she wants, Hart relents and hires her to investigate while he continues his campaign. And Hart is one serious politician. He wouldn’t get away nowadays with the things he does, of course, but in a time when you did whatever you could to see something done, he does exactly that. Eleanor is not a bad little investigator. She follows all clues she finds and has a sharp mind and wit to do the job. She wants to search the house where Hart kept his mistress at one time, where murder nearly cost him his brother, and where he wants Eleanor to stay far away from. He doesn’t want her to know anything about that part of his past.

Eleanor, however, doesn’t let Hart run roughshod over her, as he does with practically everyone in his life. She knows he has to control everything and everyone, it’s all he’s ever known, but she stands up to him at every turn, and those scenes are just wonderful. And Hart loves it too. Turns him on! We find out more of what happened between them when Eleanor broke their engagement, when she was visited by Mrs. Palmer, the aforementioned mistress, and how she’s gone on with her life, all the while keeping tabs on Hart, including his marriage and then the deaths of his wife and infant son. Through Hart we relive their original meeting and courtship, see their love as it began, knowing all the while that love never ended though they’ve been apart for years.

Reliving the worst time in Hart’s life, losing his son, is heart rending, and the scene with him and Eleanor at the boy’s grave is one of those that lets you see inside this complex man. You see the despair and the hurt. And Eleanor sees it too, realizes at last that Hart really does need her. She’s the one person he doesn’t hide from, he shows her, very emotionally, how much need is inside him. It’s nice to see this part of him, because that dark side we’ve been hearing about, what he doesn’t want Eleanor to know, has to come out. I debated with myself how much of that I wanted to see. In the end, however, Ms. Ashley keeps it fairly tame, especially considering how often it’s spoken of throughout the book.

The mystery of the photographs is finally solved, a culprit I didn’t see coming. Not what I expected at all. It’s also wonderful to see all the Mackenzie brothers and their families again. Especially Ian. He still holds my heart. It’s terrific to see how he’s come alive being in love and having Beth in his life. Hart’s and Eleanor’s banter throughout, especially when she runs on and on, is fun. The camera scenes talked about and finally in deed are also quite amusing. So much more happens, I’m only skimming the surface here. You definitely need to read this one.

As expected, I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I’m glad there’s two more books planned for the future. I’m really looking forward to Daniel’s story. Hmmm. Like father, like son?

SandyMGrade: A


Who is Hart Mackenzie’s perfect match? Eleanor Ramsay doesn’t know–she jilted him all those years ago–and now all she wants from the devastating duke is a job. Or so she tells herself. Persuading him to hire her as an assistant to his secretary is tricky, but Eleanor has a trick or two of her own up her sleeve…

Read an excerpt.

Other books in this series:

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The Seduction of Elliot McBride – January 2013
The Wicked Deeds of Daniel Mackenzie (tentative title) – October 2013