(Horsemen of the Apocalypse, #1)
Genre: Historical Romance (Regency)
First comes revenge then comes love and marriage in The Duke’s Tattoo, a historical romance set in Regency England.
After being grievously wounded at Waterloo, Jeremy Maubrey returns from war to find his new life as the tenth Duke of Ainsworth painful, dull and full of obligations. That is, until he wakes to find himself indelibly decorated in a mortifying place and mocking manner.
Though he cannot recall much of the hellish night when he was abducted and tattooed, he cannot forget the waif-like villainess responsible or her haunting eyes. Ducal duties must wait till he finds the culprit and takes his revenge.
Miss Prudence Haversham, Bath’s only female apothecary, knows she has a problem. A big, broad shouldered problem. At least she will have, if the tenth Duke of Ainsworth ever discovers she is to blame for tattooing him. Unfortunately, she meant to have tattooed the previous Duke of Ainsworth, who tried to debauch her and disgraced her with his lies. Worse yet, she learns this duke is one of four infamously implacable cavalry officers known as ‘The Horsemen of the Apocalypse.’
No sooner has the vengeful duke traced his abductress to Bath, than Prudence Haversham overturns the duke’s every expectation and intention. In turn, the duke proves himself an honorable and surprisingly forgiving man who earns the wary apothecary’s love.
WOW! I loved this book! It was refreshingly different and brimming with humour. I’m sure it wasn’t perfect, as other reviewers will no doubt attest to, but it was so entertaining that I didn’t really care.
I was totally swept away by Miranda Davis’s unique writing style. To give you a flavour, here are a few of my favourite quotes:
Hers was a full-blown, snot-discharging, eye-swelling and nose-reddening deluge of despair.
Delicate laces effervesced at swanlike ivory throats. Dyed ostrich plumes erupted from fanciful spoke bonnets. Sable and cream muffs cosseted delicate, pale hands sheathed in thin, pastel kid gloves. The women floated along Bond Street like bits of brightly dyed eiderdown.
So salubrious to relax under the Tuscan sun half potted on Chianti and fully stuffed with the local proscuitto ham.
He kissed her back lightly and struggled to stay calm. Unfortunately, the crazed timpanist in his chest took up his mallets and began to flail away.
Ms Davis’s winning blend of witty dialogue and funny scenes made the romance between Jem and Pru a pleasure to follow. I enjoyed seeing Jem’s plans to reap his revenge on the “vicious little harridan” start to unravel. At first, he enjoys toying with Pru “like a cat with a shrew” but gradually finds himself irresistibly drawn to her and can’t keep away. One of the funniest scenes is where he climbs the ivy vine up to her bedroom to propose for a third time and, for his troubles, finds the window slammed in his face and his ducal backside landing in some “damned vicious roses” Ouch!
Another favourite, laughter-inducing scene is when Jem is trying to compose a love letter to Pru.
…so the Man of Action Not Words very reluctantly opted to write Prudence a love letter.
Composing this letter made Ainsworth suffer greatly. Indeed, it couldn’t have pained him more if he’d used his own blood as ink and gouged it from his arm with a rusty fork.
The duke sat at his massive desk in a state of inert agony. Resting his chin on stacked fists, he glared at the blank sheet of crested stationery before him. Words, where were the blasted words? He sat. He thought. He questioned his thoughts. The longer he sat, the more his inarticulate misery compounded itself.
As you can tell, Jem has problems putting his feelings down on paper and, if you want read those romantic words he sweats blood over, then I’m afraid you will have to read the book!
There is such a diversity of secondary characters who enrich this story:
Jem’s stalwart but interfering friends, the Hon. George Chase Percy, William Tyler de Sayre, Baron Clun & Lord Burton Seelye who add to the fun with their jocular banter.
The redoubtable Dowager Countess of Abingdon , “as majestic as a frigate under full sail and in similar proportions”, Pru’s godmother and staunch supporter.
Pru’s “spineless, pudgy chucklehead” of a brother, Sir Oswald Dabney and his “malicious termagant” of a wife who I didn’t feel were as well developed as the other characters but that’s only a minor criticism.
Last but not least, Jem’s one-legged valet, one-armed butler and his motley pack of mongrels. I loved the scene where Jem takes Attila, his placid but brutish looking mastiff, to a meeting with Pru in the hope of terrifying her, but things don’t quite go to plan!
To Ainsworth’s undisguised disgust, Attila leaned into her hands, closed his eyes and drooled ecstatically.
I think the book titles themselves are hilarious and I love the clever chapter headings which summarise the plot so succinctly: Chapter 11 – In which adversaries skirmish over scones and clotted cream
My love of a charming Epilogue was more than fulfilled and The Duke’s Tattoo is finally revealed in all its glory!
I can heartily recommend this book. In fact, I enjoyed it so much that I just had to start reading the next one, The Baron’ s Betrothal: An-On-Again, Off-Again, On-Again Regency Romance, straightaway.
REVIEW RATING: 5/5 STARS
SENSUALITY RATING: HOT
Read January 2015