Review: The Way to a Duke’s Heart by Caroline Linden
Although I’ve never had the pleasure of reading a Caroline Linden historical before, I’ve heard good things about her and decided to try out this new to me romance author. Not realizing The Way to a Duke’s Heart was the last book in a trilogy when I picked it to review, I was a little concerned that I might be behind as far as understanding the story arc and characters. While reading I was conscious that there were characters mentioned that I hadn’t met and events that happened prior to Charlie getting his love story told, but they didn’t alter my enjoyment of the storyline at all. I do believe this can be read and enjoyed as a stand alone for those of you who haven’t read a Caroline Linden historical before either and wish to give her a try.
Charles de Lacey, the Earl of Gresham, is the eldest son and heir of the Duke of Durham. In his youth he was aware of the fact that he and his brothers were treated somewhat differently by their father. As the heir he was sort of coddled, unable to experience certain things that might endanger his health and he was expected to behave a certain way since he will one day be the Duke. His brothers earned his father’s praise quite frequently and caused Charlie to have a sort of jealousy toward them. In his early twenties he falls in love with a young girl, to him it is love at first sight and he believes this to be the woman he wishes to marry. When his father forbids the union, saying that she is only marrying him for his wealth and title, Charlie leaves the estate where his father resides and refuses a reconciliation. Thus begins his life of debauchery and sin. Ten years later he learns not only of his father’s death, but a threat to the Dukedom in the form of a foolish marriage to a young actress that his father never annulled and a blackmail scheme from a man who his brother has identified as Hiram Scott.
When Charlie travels to Bath to investigate this Mr. Scott he meets Tessa Neville and her matronly companion. Tessa isn’t like other woman he is acquainted with and he is intrigued with her. Tessa is too smart, not practiced in the arts of seduction and social graces, but Charles is nonetheless quite enchanted with the fact that he has to work for her regard.
The first part of this story was quite slow-moving. I kept looking back at some of the ratings for this book and wondering if I was missing something. Charlie and Tessa took awhile to form a connection, their banter and conversations were very dry. To me Tessa seemed to have a dry, stiff personality as well. I just didn’t connect with her at first. She is almost too smart, and this seems to be the only thing she values about herself. She had a very bad experience with a man early on in her life and this seems to have colored the way she reacts to pretty much everything. I understand that her being a woman who runs her brother’s estates has given her exposure to people thinking she is odd and different. I guess what I didn’t understand is that when she meets Charlie she basically treats him with the same generalizations and prejudices that she feels people treat her. She assumes he is many things that she doesn’t know for sure he actually is. It really took awhile for me to warm up to her character.
The second half is what made this a great read for me. Once Charlie and Tessa come together all the tension, emotion and the parts that I felt were missing in the first half start to appear and I had to stay up well into the night to finish. I also liked that once Charlie admits his ulterior motives and Tessa tells him the more scandalous parts of her background there is no too stupid to live moments or misunderstandings. I guess Tessa’s character is smart for a reason, she just accepts his reasonings for things and then moves forward to help him solve his problems. There are a couple of smoking hot love scenes that practically ignited the pages. After the slow-moving, dry beginning I was pleasantly surprised by how well done the sexy scenes were written.
I liked that Charlie realizes that his father was right to refuse his request for marriage and how his bad decisions have in part created the problems that now exist. It was satisfying to see him grow up and fall in love with a woman that he wouldn’t have normally been attracted to. Despite the slow start I ended up being very pleased with Charlie and Tessa’s story, it might have started out slowly, but it built into a very steady, sexy romance.
“What would you do if I kissed you?” she whispered
He looked at her for a long, long moment. Even dripping wet and almost blue with cold, she was beautiful. She was magnificent, in every way. “I would kiss you back,” he replied. “And take you to my bed to ravish you for the rest of the night and most of tomorrow.” Her lips parted, and he took a painful breath. “Which is why I should drive you back to The Golden Hind and put you safely into Mrs. Bates’s hands. You need a hot bath and dry clothes and a cup of tea, and if you stay here…”
“Make love to me,” she whispered. “Ravish me.”
He held very still. “I don’t believe it counts as ravishment if the victim requests it.”
Visit Fiction Vixen Book Reviews to leave a comment on "Review: The Way to a Duke’s Heart by Caroline Linden" and to read similar articles.