A Duke Never Yields by Juliana Gray
ORDER A COPY: A Duke Never Yields (Affairs By Moonlight Trilogy)
Publisher: Berkley Sensation
Publishing Date: February 5, 2013
Paperback: 290 pages
Rating: 3 stars
Impatient with the strictures of polite British society, Miss Abigail Harewood has decided to live life on her own terms—and the first thing she requires is a lover. When the commanding Duke of Wallingford arrives on the doorstep of her leased holiday castle, she thinks she’s found the perfect candidate: handsome, dashing, and experienced in the art of love.
But tempting Wallingford into her bed proves more difficult than she imagined. Restless and dissatisfied with his debauched life in London, the formerly rakish duke is determined to spend a year chaste. But as Abigail tries her best to seduce him, Wallingford finds his resolve crumbling in the face of her irresistible charm…and her alluring secrets.
Abigail Harewood knows what she wants and what she wants is a lover. She has seen the benefits that “good” marriage has ravaged upon both her sister and her cousin. She was watched what the pressures of the aristocracy and loveless, unfaithful spouse have done to her formerly happy and gregarious family members. She has no interest in losing herself to the bonds of matrimony.
She wants an experienced man to be her first lover and after meeting the notorious Duke of Wallingford she is certain he must be her first. Unfortunately for Abigail, the Duke has come to Italy to cleanse his soul of women and debauchery. Even if he were willing to take a woman to his bed, the Duke finds that likes the carefree and vivacious little fairy and he can’t imagine ruining her with almost childlike view of the world with carnal lust, even if there is nothing else childlike about her.
When a mistake leads to both Abby’s party and Wallingford’s party both renting the same Italian castle, Abby vows to bide her time and she knows with persistence she will seduce the Duke.
When Wallingford finally acknowledges his desires for Abigail, she should be delighted, but when she finds out he will only agree to take her to his bed as his wife, she insists that she can never marry a known rake.
Now that they both have acknowledged their desires for each other, the gloves are off and Abigail with do whatever necessary to seduce the Duke and Wallingford will use all his charms to convince Abigail to walk down the aisle with him.
In this battle of desires and wills, can there really be a loser?
I had such hope for this book and was excited when I finally got to it on my list. I was so disappointed.
I thought that the Duke would be a man who was tired of his man-whore lifestyle and the type of women who would engage in loveless affairs, and he would fall for the refreshingly, delightful and sweet Abby. He simply turned out to be a man-boy who grew up in privilege and who had no care for anyone but himself. He ended up going on a sabbatical to avoid a marriage arranged by his grandfather after an evening at his mistress’s home (the wife of a diplomat) when he embarrassed her by having a quicky in the conservatory with some unknown woman. We believe at this early point in the book that he was just drunk at a party. We come to find out that although he is a womanizer, he has no idea of pleasuring a woman in bed. As Abigail tells him, when he shouts no one has ever complained before, You’re a Duke, no one’s going to tell you that you’re not good in bed.
When he starts to feel a real attraction for Abigail and she decides to push him away, he is upset because Abigail is the one woman who has the determination to change him into a better man. WTF? So even when he acknowledges what a loser he is, he expects her to change him. He doesn’t acknowledge that he needs to do something to change himself.
Although Abby starts out as a quirky, delightful and very naïve in her thinking, she was a little too quirky and naïve and after a while she started to grate on my nerves.
I thought that there were parts of the story that seemed a little jumpy, i.e., suddenly Abigail and her sister disappearing to Rome to be a car race, although there was never any discussion about it, but this was Book #3 and a quick check of Book #1 and Book #2 show that these two books are about the other two couples in the castle with the Duke and Abigail. I am sure if you read the first two books, you would obviously know what was going behind the scenes.
Regardless of the story gaps, it was the characters in this story that I didn’t like. The Duke was too much of a selfish jerk and although he finally goes off on his own to do some growing up, he doesn’t return to the story until the very end. Although he seems to have grown up, we aren’t there long enough to see the benefit of his personal growth.
This was my first Juliana Gray story, but it just wasn’t for me.
Received ARC from netgalley.com, courtesy of the publisher. Thank you.
He shook himself. “I came,” he said, schooling his voice into ducal deepness, “in order to educate you on the wholesale impropriety of making appointments with strangers in the stables. Since your sister, it seems, in unequal to the task.”
“But you’re not a stranger,” she said, smiling. “We spoke for quite an hour at dinner.”
“Don’t even think to match wits with me, young lady.”
“Ooh!” She shivered. “Say that again, do.”
“I said, don’t even…” He stopped and folded his arms across his chest. “Look here, what are you really doing here? You know the rules as well as I do.”
“Oh, I know the rules as well as anyone. One has to know the rules perfectly in order to break them.” She was still smiling, still unearthly, lightening the very air around her.
Wallingford’s groin, that seat of instinct rather than reason, tightened unto bursting in an instant.
“Good God.” The words struggled out. “You don’t mean…”
She laughed and held up her hand. “Oh, no! Not so far as that. I understand that anticipation is vital in these matters.”
“Anticipation?” he said dazedly.
“Yes, anticipation. Of course, you’re the expert, but I think we should go no further than a kiss tonight, don’t you think?”
She laughed. “You sound exactly like the stableboy, before dinner. “un bacio,” he said, in exactly that tone of voice.”
Wallingford took a stumbling step backward. “Stableboy?”
“Oh yes. He was rather startled, I suppose, but he recovered quickly…”
“…and stepped up to the mark quite nicely. I say, is that your horse? He’s a jolly splendid animal, aren’t you, darling?” She brushed past him and took Lucifer’s face between her hands. “Yes, a dear love, a remarkable great beast you are, a splendid, lovely animal.”
Lucifer, enraptured, pushed his nose against her chest and whuffled.
Wallingford shook his head. “Look here, Miss Harewood. Do you mean to say you kissed the stableboy? Here?”
“Yes, and a lovely embrace it was. Much nicer than the stableboy at home.”
“The stableboy at home?” The floor seemed to be dropping away beneath Wallingford’s booted feet. He put a hand to steady himself against the wooden wall of Lucifer’s stall.
“Yes. Patrick was his name.” She turned to him. “The brother of one of my sister’s housemaids. Oh! Ha-ha. I see what you’re thinking. No, no. I assure you. I don’t go about kissing stableboys willy-nilly, hither and yon. Heavans, no!” She laughed. She had her arm up around the side of Lucifer’s face, stroking him, and Wallingford could have sworn that the animal winked at him.
“Forgive me, Miss Harewood, for jumping to such an unwarranted conclusion.”
“Oh, how forbidding you are! You must keep your brow exactly like that. How did Shakespeare put it? ‘Let the brow o’erwhelm it as fearfully as doth a galled rock o’erhang and jutty his confounded base, swilled with the wild and wasteful ocean…”
“Are you quite mad?”
“No, no. Only a little mad, I assure you. No, as I said, I don’t go about kissing stableboys as a rule. It’s more in the line of an experiment.”
“You are quite mad.”