Genre: historical romance
Sex scenes: mild
Duchess of Love: (1) Bedding Lord Ned, (2) Surprising Lord Jack, (3) Loving Lord Ash
Romance Reading Bingo Challenge 2014: A book with a 'class differences' relationship
Estranged for the eight years of their marriage, nothing about Kit and Jess’s relationship has ever been normal. They had been childhood friends, but when circumstances force the future Duke of Greycliffe to marry the family groom’s daughter in order to save Jess’s reputation, their relationship has never been the same. As a result of society’s poisonous gossip, Kit thinks that Jess has slept with every male in the county; while Jess believes Kit to have had his fair share of discreet affairs. Kit has finally faced up to the reality that he needs an heir - which requires reuniting and reconciling with his wife who has every reason to hate him for abandoning her. To top it off, his mother is the infamous matchmaker, the Duchess of Love, who considers her eldest son’s unhappy marriage her one failure.
Their reunion doesn’t get them off to the best start, though they both commit to a trial period in an effort to make their marriage work. It’s the classic case of each party refusing to profess their love for each other and thus realising that they’re both in the same boat. Given their class differences, Jess has never thought that she was good enough for Kit and their eight years of separation has only reinforced that belief. In turn, Kit never considered that Jess might return his feelings. As the pair are forced to face the London social scene, there’s only a matter of time before truths from eight years ago rise to the surface that will change their marriage … for the better.
I found this to be a very lukewarm read and the sex scene was just plain awkward. It didn’t help that in the case of the latter, the build-up had been so prolonged that by the time we got to it, it was just a huge anti-climax (no pun intended). That said, there were glimpses of some very good writing. I didn’t particularly like either Jess or Kit, but I was convinced by their love for one another. I particularly like this snapshot of Kit’s feelings soon after the pair have reunited.
“He’d forgotten the full affect her presence had on him. He felt a bit giddy, a little irresponsible, always on the verge of doing something he’d regret when he was with her.”
Their mutual distrust of one another was infuriating. Jess is sure that Kit didn’t come to bed because he sought out the comforting arms of a willing servant and similarly, Kit is convinced that Jess will return to her flirtatious ways in London. They’re both completely blind to each other’s utter devotion and while this can sometimes be captured excellently, I felt that it was a little overdone in this case.
Loving Lord Ash did have redeeming features: there were moments of funny dialogue and I liked Jess’s huge dog, ‘Fluffy’. The idea that the Duchess of Greycliffe is society’s matchmaker and overall font of all romantic knowledge was brilliant, even more so because it’s a widely-known fact. I’m always willing to try new authors, especially authors who write historical romance; I’m open to trying another Sally MacKenzie novel but it's going to have to be a stunner.
Image courtesy of Fantastic Fiction.