The Reluctant Duchess

relcover71503-mediumAuthor: Sharon Cullen

Publisher: Random House – Loveswept

Rating: 4 stars

Buy Links: Amazon

Type: Novel

Provided by Publisher

 

Blurb: Lady Sara Emerson was jolted out of her dull provincial life by her cousin’s murder. Now that the killer seems to be targeting her, Sara seeks help from the man who was once her cousin’s fiancé, Gabriel Ferguson, Duke of Rossmoyne. With his towering frame and fiery personality, Ross cuts an intimidating figure. Living under his protection, however, has its own hazards—like the sudden urge Sara feels to take their relationship in new, exquisitely inappropriate directions.

Dazzled by the social graces of his betrothed, Ross never noticed her shy, blushing cousin. Looking at Sara now, though, he’s drawn to her lovely eyes and calm disposition. Funny how a year away from the hustle and bustle of the ton changes a man. But Ross has no intention of allowing a woman to interfere with his plan to return overseas. He will simply capture the murderer and set sail once again. The problem is, with her beguiling lips and heavenly touch, Sara makes him never want to leave home—or his bed—again.

 

Review: Sharon Cullen is an intriguing voice in historical romantic suspense and this story was one of the better ones I’ve read lately. The characters were finely drawn and the plot was suspenseful and active with the events happening in a realistic and narrative manner that was entertaining and kept my attention until the end. I liked the contrast between Sara and her cousin, and felt that a nice distinction was made between the two so that you never felt that this heroine was lacking in contrast. The hero’s affections felt natural and were developed nicely in the context of the story line. Perfectly done and well-appreciated!

Sara is receiving threatening letters about her cousin’s death that had happened the year before–almost as if the killer is now targeting her. She arrives in London at the home of her cousin’s fiance, Gabriel Ferguson, the Duke of Rossmoyne, to ask for his protection against what she fears is a very real threat. Ross is of course baffled by her presence, having just returned from a year in India working for the crown, and has no idea of what’s been happening while he’s been gone or any real idea of Sara or her personality. Meredith, Sara’s cousin and his former fiance, had been such an overwhelming personality that Sara had paled in comparison, and he’d never really gotten to know her.

As he reads the letters she’s received and they visit with the constabulary, events start occurring that make it obvious that whoever had killed Meredith is now after Sara. Living in his home, however, Sara begins to feel more protected against the outside threat but is also incredibly vulnerable to the handsome Duke, whom she fiercely desires but also fears is much too important for someone like her. However, Ross seems to have no such qualms about the two of them being together, and even though he says he shouldn’t be with her, he makes advances and they keep having “uh-oh” moments in his study until they’re caught by his mother Elizabeth. Oops!

Because of his profligate past, at first his mother tells him to leave naive Sara alone; after a time, she sees that he’s really in love with her and that his experiences in India have matured him, so she begins to encourage him to develop a relationship with Sara. But Sara’s still not convinced of her own worth, and when her mother who comes to town and takes her away to their own town house, she’s easily led to believe that she’s not meant for him. Of course, that leaves her open to our dear murderer. Will Ross be able to get past his hurt feelings in time to save her from that dastardly fiend?

Gotta love an emotive man, and Ross is one of the finest. Well-done, Ms. Cullen! Sexy and smart with great historical drama and lush descriptions. Thanks!

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