Publication Date: May 1, 2011
Genre: Historical Romance
She lives for passion.Bold, impulsive, and a magnet for trouble, Juliana Fiori is no simpering English miss. She refuses to play by society’s rules: she speaks her mind, cares nothing for the approval of the ton, and can throw a punch with remarkable accuracy. Her scandalous nature makes her a favorite subject of London’s most practiced gossips . . . and precisely the kind of woman The Duke of Leighton wants far far away from him.
He swears by reputation.
Scandal is the last thing Simon Pearson has room for in his well-ordered world. The Duke of Disdain is too focused on keeping his title untainted and his secrets unknown. But when he discovers Juliana hiding in his carriage late one evening—risking everything he holds dear—he swears to teach the reckless beauty a lesson in propriety. She has other plans, however; she wants two weeks to prove that even an unflappable duke is not above passion.
I’m going to try to restrain myself with some sort of synopsis, but really all I want to do is get to the gushing on this one.
Even if she decided to be a nun, Juliana would likely still find a way to light a fire under the gossipmongers. Being the daughter of a woman with questionable morals is bad enough, but with an irrepressible spirit and mouth to match, she’s a walking scandal. Most outrageously enough – she doesn’t seem interested in changing her behavior.
Juliana’s polar opposite, the icy Duke of Leighton can only look on with horror at her antics. He’s been friends – albeit gingerly – with her less scandalous brothers for years. He even had a single innocent tryst with Juliana before finding out whom and what she was – inappropriate for the Duke of Disdain, who lives for his sterling reputation and position in society, one that could be threatened by his own brewing family scandal. While the Duke in him may find her appalling, Simon, the man behind the title is perplexed, fascinated and attracted to her. It’s an impossible situation – his family’s standing has to come first.
Juliana can’t help but wish Simon would let go of his rigid views of society and when he announces his engagement to a bland society mouse, she challenges him: give her two weeks and she can prove to him life is better lived with passion than without. Determined to teach her a lesson – as well as keep an eye on her for her brothers’ sake – he agrees, knowing she’ll never win this bet.
There are probably one hundred and eleven reasons why I loved this book. Juliana was so completely charming, she bowled me over. She speaks Italian when she’s angry or excited and sometimes she put the wrong English word in a sentence in a critical place and it’s hilarious. Juliana loved to say what she thought but she wasn’t malicious and while she did what she wanted, she was reckless and bold rather than rude. Externally she was so strong in the face of the public scorn she faced every day because of what her mother was – no small amount of it from Simon – but internally she was full of self-doubt and pain. I really wanted to just hug her to death.
Normally a rigid, icy Duke wouldn’t really be terribly likable, but almost from the start there are enough glimpses into Simon’s real personality that I started wondering what exactly his problem was – something that was answered a little bit later when his mother appeared and the reasons why he had been drilled into maintaining the Duke of Disdain persona were made clear. Once Juliana started getting under his skin, he didn’t run hot and cold, he ran hot and warm. When she finally gets close enough to really fluster him, he’s angry at himself and doesn’t know any way to fix it other than to revert back to iciness, even if it hurts them both.
Juliana’s brothers and their wives appear here as well (from Nine Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake and Ten Ways to Be Adored When Landing a Lord) – two books I hadn’t read yet but picked up immediately after finishing this.
My Summary: Because I read a number of different genres, I only read a handful of historicals each month at best and rarely find any that move me enough to review. Call it a cliché, but I was captivated by the passionate characters, the grand story, the effortless dialogue and the ending that had me grabbing my Kleenex. Yes, I’m fairly sure I’m calling this one a must-read.
My Rating: A+