(Dangerous Rogues, #3)
Genre: Historical Romance (Victorian)
In this dazzling Dangerous Rogues novel, a daring and dangerously handsome duke will do anything for the woman he loves—even if it sparks a scandal.
FRIENDS AND LOVERS…
As a wealthy young widow, Lady Jessica Heyer must endure the closest of scrutiny and most wicked of rumors from society gossips. Their whispers would be utterly unbearable if it weren’t for her oldest friend, the Duke of Alsborough. Jessica knows she can always count on Hayden. What she never could have expected, however, is that he is deeply, madly in love with her…
TO HAVE AND TO HOLD
For years, Hayden has kept his longing for his beautiful friend Jessica a secret. But now that she’s finally free to remarry, will she be willing to take their relationship to a more intimate level? He’ll get his answer soon—at a glittering masquerade, where identities are hidden, hearts are open, and true love is unmasked…in a single, shameless act of passion.
I have been waiting for Hayden and Jessica’s story and Ms Clare brings her Scandalous Rogues series to a close with this lovely friends-to-lovers story.
Hayden is such a wonderful hero. Beneath that very proper exterior beats the heart of a very passionate man. He has been in love with his friend Jessica for ten years but was too honourable to have told her of his feelings while she was married. Now her husband is dead, Hayden has every intention of claiming her for his own. I love how he respects, adores, cherishes and protects Jessica and will do anything to ensure her happiness.
Jessica spent eight years married to man who was cruel, abusive and humiliated her at every opportunity but she has still retained an inner strength. Even under the most tragic of circumstances, she refuses to give society the satisfaction of seeing any weakness. With everything she is coping with following her husband’s death, I can understand that she needs time to adjust to the knowledge that Hayden has harbored feelings for her for so long. I also understood her reluctance to accept hi marriage proposal. She fears that, if her darkest secrets are revealed, Hayden’s reputation would be irrevocably damaged and she couldn’t do that to him. I admired her for that unselfishness.
There are a variety of secondary characters who contribute to the action and drama… Lord Fallon’s treacherous valet, Miller, who may hold dark secrets about Jessica’s past, Mr Warren, heir to the Fallon estate, who clearly dislikes Jessica, the mysterious person who is writing malicious gossip in the Mayfair Chronicles and Lady Randall, Jessica’s unlikely champion.
Leo and Genny (Wicked Nights With a Proper Lady) and Tristan and Charlotte (Midnight Temptations With a Forbidden Lord) all make an appearance in this book because this story runs concurrently with events happening in the first two books. I think anyone who hasn’t read those books might find certain aspects of The Scandalous Duke Takes a Bride confusing and, therefore, I would recommend reading the series in order.
He and Jez had known each other for nearly a decade, and looking at her now, he didn’t see one ounce of the vibrant woman she once was. What he saw in her gaze was eight years of a miserable marriage weighing down on her soul.
And there was the crux of it: in her eyes he would always be just a friend. She really did make him believe that opposites attracted, for there was nothing similar in their characters, yet he wanted her to himself. She’d always been brazen and daring, him steadfast and cautious. Yet he still wanted to protect and cherish her as his own. And he would.
He put his jacket around her shoulders and wrapped her tight in the safety of his arms as he dropped to his knees behind her. She fought him with tears on her face and nothing more than sorrow and sobs in her voice. Her fists pounded at his arms, his hands.
But he didn’t let her go.
“Hush. It’s all right. I’m here for you.” His voice was jagged, raw with emotion.
She felt like a wild bird stuck in captivity and under the scrutiny of too many eyes.
“What do you want from me, Hayden?” “Nothing,” he whispered. “Everything. You make me question my every action and my every move. What I do know is that I want you and only you. I’ve always felt this way.”
This was an engaging, poignant and sensual love story and a satisfying finish to this series.
REVIEW RATING: 4/5 STARS
SENSUALITY RATING: HOT
Read June 2014
Dangerous Rogues series (click on the covers for more details):