Books are my escape...I need it. My life is super busy between working full time, being a mom of 2 super social kids, a traveling husband, and an annoying habit of not being able to say "No".
For years Serafina McPhee has been engaged to marry the heir to the Duke of Hartholm and for almost as long, she has been struggling to find a way out of that engagement. When he suddenly dies, she does not mourn but thrills at the idea that she will be free. Unfortunately, best laid plans go awry when the next in line for the title, her intended’s cousin, Raphael “Rafe” Flynn is forced to take over the engagement. But Serafina knows Rafe’s reputation as a libertine and wants nothing to do with him, either, even if he is devastatingly handsome.
She proposes an arrangement: she will agree to the marriage and provide Rafe with his heir and spare. Once she has done her duty, he will let her go. Rafe is intrigued both by her beauty and by her utter disgust with the idea of being his bride. Women normally fall at his feet, not cringe away from him. However, since their arranged marriage is not something he can escape, he agrees to her terms.
But when he finds out on their wedding night the truth about her torture at the hands of his predecessor, he finds himself driven not just to fulfill his bargain with his new bride, but to introduce her to desire. While they move closer together, surrendering to wicked pleasures, dangerous emotions may violate every agreement they’ve made.
I am loving Jess Michaels’ recent historicals. They are so romantic and filled with details of how they share their love which I like to read. This story is no different and I’m excited about this next trilogy.
Rafe is the ultimate redeemable rake. He has a reputation as a complete libertine, and is resistant to change his life even though it is a dukedom (hello!) he inherits. A dukedom with benefits, as he is insta-engaged to Serafina, for whom he instantly falls. What is sweet is that he has the most tender intentions with her. When it turns out that Serafina was traumatized by her former fiancé, Rafe’s cousin, Rafe takes immediate and frankly, selfless, steps to ensure that Serafina gets over her trauma and doesn’t classify Rafe as the same kind of beast. I wish all men were as selfless and sincere as Rafe – not only was he described as beyond handsome, but his character was such that he seemed the most beautiful man. Very dreamy…
Serafina was beautiful as well and despite her upbringing, an angel. She was kind to others no matter their station could have turned out terrible but she has an inner strength that kept her mainly intact. Not surprisingly, she mistrusted men and despite Rafe’s efforts to change her mind, it took her a long time to turn her opinion around of him. What became a bit wearisome throughout the book, was that she was so set on her original plans, that she wouldn’t let Rafe’s love in and allow herself to reevalute things. This of course is a conflict to resolve which could have been resolved in a few different ways. The way it was resolved seemed more of the path of least resistance and I would not have minded seeing it play out more dramatically stringing out the story a bit longer.
The secondary characters, primarily Rafe’s family, are enjoyable and makes me look forward to reading their stories.
Overall, a sweet, sexy romance and I’m looking forward to reading the next two in the series!
My thanks to NetGalley for the digital ARC.