He is a duke in search of a perfect bride.
She is a lady—but a long way from perfect.
Tarquin, the powerful Duke of Sconce, knows perfectly well that the decorous and fashionably slender Georgiana Lytton will make him a proper duchess. So why can’t he stop thinking about her twin sister, the curvy, headstrong, and altogether unconventional Olivia? Not only is Olivia betrothed to another man, but their improper, albeit intoxicating, flirtation makes her unsuitability all the more clear.
Determined to make a perfect match, he methodically cuts Olivia from his thoughts, allowing logic and duty to triumph over passion…Until, in his darkest hour, Quin begins to question whether perfection has anything to do with love.
To win Olivia’s hand he would have to give up all the beliefs he holds most dear, and surrender heart, body and soul…
Unless it’s already too late.
This series is kind of all over the place for me. The first book, A Kiss at Midnight, was okay – I had some serious issues with the heroine. The second book, When Beauty Tamed the Beast, I absolutely adored! This book…I’m just not sure.
I wanted to like it, and some aspects I did. There were moments of true enjoyment, and romance throughout this book, and I did devour it. So what’s my problem? It left a bad taste in my mouth. And I feel badly saying that because I always ask for more nuanced characters. These are definitely that. I don’t think there’s a single character that’s simply good or bad. There’re none that are inherently honorable or villainous.
Olivia has been affianced, since before she or her betrothed were born, to a (to-be) Duke. It’s mentioned several times throughout this book that her fiancee, Rupert, is a bit different in the head. Truth is that he’s mentally challenged due to a lack of oxygen at birth. Olivia’s never wanted to be the “proper” Duchess. She’s always been a bit off-key and liked herself that way. Her parents have always been fanatical in pushing her (and her sister Georgiana, whom I’ll get to later) into being “duchified” so they can make an advantageous match.
My problems started early when I noticed that Olivia and Georgiana were making fun of Rupert. This wouldn’t have necessarily bothered me, but it became clear fairly early that he wasn’t a jerk, wasn’t an idiot. He was a sweet boy, too young for Olivia to be sure, and mentally challenged to boot. I get Olivia’s frustrations, and I understand her voicing them in private, especially in regards to her own ties to a match she didn’t want. But it still wasn’t admirable. Olivia did come to defend Rupert, protect him and his secrets, and care for him deeply shortly thereafter, so I’m not entirely sure what the point was of having her make fun in the first place. It could have been handled differently – and should have been.
And though that is enough to leave a bad taste in my mouth, Olivia’s behaviors from shortly after to the end of the book made me able to keep reading. But then there was Georgiana, who struck me as selfish, spoiled and self-centered. Again, I understand, she’s trying to make a good match, but she berates her sister – simply for being herself – and makes her feel like crap because she worries about herself. And I do get it, familial behaviors reflect on the entire family in the ton. But …. *sigh* …. I would have liked a stronger bond between them. At one point Olivia says that something Georgiana said was “the nicest thing she’s ever said to her” – and it wasn’t even a compliment! What the hell? That’s the nicest thing she’s said to her twin sister? Ugh.
The convenient tidying up towards the end was also eye-roll worthy. I wanted the characters to face the fall-out of their decisions. They were prepared to, and I wanted to see it. I wanted to see them work harder for what they’d decided to fight for. In the end it felt like it was all cleared away so they wouldn’t have to fight at all. And that made all the tension seem worthless.
Also, the Princess and the Pea aspect…kind of non-existent, or tossed in because it needed to be. I could have lived without it.