When Nicholas Buchanan, the Duke of Dorchester, accepts an invitation to visit a country stud farm, he counters his boredom by striking a wager with his henchman that he’ll bed the poor relation, Alicia Woodley, before the end of his stay. But he reckons without Alicia’s disdain. She’s disgusted by Nick’s cavalier attitude, unimpressed by his grandeur and wants as little as possible to do with him.

Between her newfound role as family charity case and fending off the attentions of both her clueless cousin and the arrogant Nicholas, Alicia Woodley has quite enough to contend with…but when her life is endangered, quite possibly from those closest to her, surprisingly it is Nicholas who seems determined to ensure her safety. As they conspire to uncover secrets that the family wants hidden at all costs, they discover a passion that surpasses all obstacles.

When I first read the description of this novel, I knew I had to read it.  A Duke, a wager, a hoyden, and a villain out for murder, it all sounded incredibly intriguing.

Unfortunately, there was a major detail missing from the description that in my opinion completely changes the target audience for the book, and completely blindsided me.  It seems that Nicholas is into submissive women in the bedroom.  Now, don’t get me wrong, I love a good D/s story, and to have one with a historical setting is utterly delicious for me. However, I prefer to know ahead of time that romantic interludes are going to involve blindfolds, bound hands, and vigorous spankings, rather than to be happily reading along only to have to pause and look at the cover to make sure I’m still reading the right book.

What worked for me:

  • I love when a bored aristocrat makes a wager involving a woman, only to have it come back and bite him in the bum.
  • The mystery surrounding the stud farm and the fact that someone obviously has designs on Alicia’s life adds a lot of excitement to the story.
  • I always enjoy a story where the hero is one of the last people to recognize that he’s in love with the heroine because he’s never even considered the idea of falling in love before.
  • I loved Alicia’s way with animals, and how Nicholas slowly began to see the rabbit as “theirs”, helping to cement their bond.
  • Maria’s machinations never failed to make me laugh, and I especially liked
    SPOILER ALERT SelectShow Spoiler

What didn’t work for me:

  • As I mentioned, the love scenes were awful. Had I known going into the story that there was light bondage and a little kink, I think I could’ve enjoyed it, but nothing in Nicholas’ demeanor indicated that he preferred those activities. Certainly, he was pompous and was used to people fawning all over him as he was a Duke, but he repeatedly mentioned how refreshing it was that Alicia didn’t kowtow to him.  If anything, I would’ve expected him to want her to take control in the bedroom, and not do things such as require her to remain silent unless given permission to speak, or to have to have permission to climax.
  • Talking about your mistress (whom you are still actively seeing and have expressed intention of continuing to see), whilst directing a woman to touch herself intimately is not sexy. Despite Alicia’s enjoyment of the scene, at this point the book would’ve become a wallbanger for me had it not been for the fact that it was on my Kindle and I didn’t want to break it.

Despite my dislike of the love scenes, the rest of the book was an enjoyable read.

However, since the goings-on in the bedroom are such an integral part of any romance novel, I will say that this was simply an okay read.

It is important to note that the bondage and “D/s” elements, if you can really call them that, are very mild in the overall scheme of things, so readers only looking for light bondage and D/s play will likely enjoy this book.

To be completely fair, I imagine that had I known about the kink going into the story, perhaps by the author having invented a slightly “dark” reputation for the hero or something, I definitely think this book would have rated higher for me.

As it is, however, 2/5 Stars