What the Duke Desires
Jenna Petersen
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What the Duke Desires
Jenna Petersen
384 pages
October 2009
rated 4 of 5 possible stars

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When Lillian Mayhew decides to avenge her mother by exposing a secret about the late Duke of Billingham, she doesn't initially foresee the consequences. She goes to a house party that the new duke, Simon Crathorne, is hosting in order to gather evidence about his father's misdeeds.

Simon has organized the party in order to find a bride, but none of the young ladies appeal apart from the rather unsuitable Lillian - unsuitable as her family aren't important enough. But while the house party is going on, Simon is also putting his father's paperwork in order and beginning to discover there are things about his much-loved father that he didn't previously know. As he and Lillian get to know each other and strike up a bond of friendship, untold secrets could cause a rift between them. And then there's the biggest secret of all that will turn Simon's life upside-down.

What the Duke Desires is a very enjoyable read. It perhaps starts a little slowly, and it isn't easy to like Lillian - she has tasked herself to destroy a family because of what a dead man did. As she learns about Simon, though, she puts her vengeance behind her and instead explores the possibility of a new life. I particularly liked the surprising part of the plot where Simon discovers why his mother has behaved so oddly toward him. It is a well-handled, interesting and entirely plausible series of events.

Though not particularly strong on historical detail or dialogue, What the Duke Desires is a good read but with some engaging characters and a sturdy plot.

Originally published on Curled Up With A Good Book at www.curledup.com. Helen Hancox, 2010

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