Thursday, August 15, 2019

The Duchess in His Bed by Lorraine Heath

For a duchess with practical desires, falling in love is an inconceivable part of her plan…

As owner of the Elysium Club which caters to women's fantasies, Aiden Trewlove is accustomed to introducing adventurous ladies to sin and vice. But he is uncharacteristically intrigued by the mysterious beauty who visits his club one night, yearning to indulge in the forbidden—with him. Drawn to her indomitable spirit, he breaks his rule of never becoming personally involved with his clientele and is determined to fully awaken her desires.

A recent widow, Selena Sheffield, Duchess of Lushing, has never known passion, not until Aiden's slow, sensual seduction leads her on a journey of discovery and incredible pleasure. But her reasons for visiting the notorious club are not all that they seem.

As Selena's motives become complicated by love, she finds herself with a most unexpected choice: forge ahead with a secret plan that could secure her future—or follow her heart which could prove ruinous.

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Book 4
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Reviews by the Wicked Reads Review Team

Lorraine Heath is a new-to-me author, so I can attest that The Duchess in His Bed can be read independently of the series as a standalone with little to no confusion, even with it being the fourth installment in the Sins for All Seasons series. With that being said, I was definitely intrigued by the entire premise and the characterizations, enough so that I am thoroughly looking forward to reading from the beginning, rereading this particular novel, before the release of the next in the series.

To be honest, I did struggle with this novel, simply because I was stressed for a good 60%. The premise, which is why I didn't put Spoiler-Free at the top of my review, it rubbed me morally and ethically wrong the entire time.

Selena was a more mature heroine, not necessarily in chronological age, but in life experience. Recently widowed, as in a day prior to the start of the novel, Selena is willing to do anything to keep her family intact, even if that means giving up parts of herself in the process. While I said I had moral and ethical issues with Selena's actions, that didn't mean that I didn't empathize or sympathize with her plight, nor understand why she would go to such lengths to protect her siblings' futures.

A recent widow, a dukedom on the line due to no heirs and no distant relatives to take up the mantle, the dukedom would fall back to the government. All that rich history being sold off to the highest bidder. Not only that, Selena wouldn't be in a position to help support her younger brother, the earl of a failing lineage, along with their three little sisters on the cusp of their first seasons. Selena had to get with child as quickly as possible, to then pass the child off as her dead husband's, all to secure their futures.

With the opener far in the past, it was easy to feel a plethora of emotions for Aiden the instant the broody club owner came onto the page. That was one of the reasons I struggled with Selena's selfishness under the guise of being selfless. Aiden deserved better than to be played. This is where the NOT A SPOILER-FREE REVIEW comes into play, because my stress level would have diminished considerably had I been privy to the fact that Selena does tell Aiden her plans, because that betrayal was too hard for me to swallow as I watched their interactions.

Connecting, tension-filled, lusty interactions at Aiden's club, where Selena forgot she had a plan because she was falling for him as hard as he was falling for her. Yet this crawl of a slow-burn to their relationship was tainted by the reality of Selena's deception. While this is the angst I generally adore, it was too much for me to find enjoyable at the time. It tainted these long, drawn-out, slow-paced scenes where it was just the two of them on the pages. This isn't a negative, how the bulk of the novel took place, secreted in a room, where just the two of them forged a bond. But when stressed, the crawling pacing, filled with the potential of destructive betrayal, it made me even more nervous, made me pity Aiden for Selena's deception, made me not totally buy into the romance.

Once the ploy was out in the open, between the pair of them, I could relax and enjoy the story, enjoy the other characters, especially the large stable of siblings on both sides. They brought the levity, the camaraderie, and the support that created a well-rounded story. I thoroughly enjoyed their interactions, the unexpected laughs, and the heartwarming moments. Through conversations and inner musings, the reader even gets to know the deceased Lushing, which was also an unexpected joy.

Selena was attempting to find her footing in a society that wanted dependent women, only to discover being a widow and a woman meant there were ways to find independence if only she weren't too terrified to disregard her narrow-minded upbringing and selfish males to take those unbeaten paths.

Aiden struggled with the concept of love, of anyone finding him worthy. To be born in sin, he felt he was sinful. The sins of the father are visited upon the son. With Selena's help, Aiden had to learn that those concepts weren't factual. His adoptive mother and siblings had attempted to make Aiden see his true value, but it took Selena's love to get it through his formidable emotional armor.

I highly recommend to fans of the author and historical romance, especially those who are looking for something different, not the usual balls and forced marriages.

Lorraine Heath always dreamed of being a writer. After graduating from the University of Texas, she wrote training manuals, press releases, articles, and computer code, but something was always missing. When she read a romance novel, she not only became hooked on the genre, but quickly realized what her writing lacked: rebels, scoundrels, and rogues. She’s been writing about them ever since. Her work has been recognized with numerous industry awards, including RWA’s prestigious RITA®. Her novels have appeared on the USA Today and New York Times bestseller lists.

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Reviewers on the Wicked Reads Review Team were provided a free copy of The Duchess in His Bed (Sins for All Seasons #4) by Lorraine Heath to read and review.

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