At the Duke's Pleasure by Tracy Anne Warren
Series: The Byrons of Braebourne #3
Also in this series: Seduced by His Touch, At the Duke's Pleasure, Wicked Delights of a Bridal Bed, The Bed and the Bachelor, Tempted by His Kiss
Publisher: Avon, Harper Collins
Publication Date: January 12, 2010
Genres: Historical Romance
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All the Byrons are just as "mad, bad, and dangerous to know" as their famous non-relation...but now the time has come for the eldest son to marry...
Edward Byron, Duke of Clybourne, has everything a man in Society needs...except a wife. Duty requires he wed, so he decides that a long-standing arranged marriage will do nicely. He knows his bride is beautiful, biddable and bright enough to run his household and nursery. He expects his betrothed, Lady Claire Marsden, will be thrilled with his decision—unfortunately, she's not!
Claire has longed for Edward since she was sixteen, but how can he expect her to agree to his proposal when he barely knows her and doesn't love her? Nothing will convince her to accept a loveless marriage. And so she begins a battle of outrageous resistance, forcing Edward to learn that he must lose his heart in order to win his bride.
This is my first book by Tracy Anne Warren. I’ve been on a historical kick and grabbed this at random from my TBR shelf. Having read it, I’m anxious to go back and read the first two in the series.
Edward Byron, Duke of Clybourne, has decided it’s time to marry. When he was just a child of 11, his father set up a betrothal for him with Lady Claire Marsden, the eldest daughter of the Earl of Edgewater, who was only an infant at the time. Though he rebelled against the idea of being forced into a marriage not of his choosing, he’s come to realize it’s his duty to go ahead with it. Claire will make him a good wife, he’s sure. She’s been bred for it, after all.
Lady Claire has been in love with her betrothed for most of her life. She realized years the futility of it years ago, however, and can’t imagine marrying a man she loves who will never love her in return. She lives in hope that he’s forgotten about her, until the day his letter arrives.
Claire pleads with Edward to let her out of the betrothal. When he refuses, she decides she’ll force him into ending it by acting as scandalously as possible. She’s sure if she just pushes hard enough, Edward will finally break and walk away.
But Edward is used to scandalous behavior. His siblings are notorious for it. He knows if he’s patient enough, Claire will come around. He starts to question that when her behavior moves past scandalous and borders on ruinous. Is the idea of marrying him really that repulsive to her?
Edward was an excellent character. He’s strong, responsible and just a tad domineering, but he’s also kind, sensitive and extremely sexy. He takes his responsibilities serious, but he unwinds and relaxes around his family. I think the amount of responsibility a Duke carries is often downplayed in romance novels, but not here. Warren really did an excellent job of showing the weight of responsibility, without weighing the novel down or making Edward boring.
I really loved how he opened himself up to Claire. He may have started out thinking only of duty, but it wasn’t long before Claire the woman became the object of his desires – psychical and otherwise.
Claire was harder to pin down. I enjoyed certain things about her. Her zest for life was unparalleled, and her sense of humor and charm made her a likable character. The longer her antics went on, and the more outrageous they became, however, the more frustrated with her I became.
I might have been able to look past her behavior if I understood why she felt herself in love with him. As it was, I had a hard time with it. She saw him twice before he came to confirm the betrothal. Once when she was a small child, and once when she was sixteen. They barely had any contact either time, yet Claire was totally head-over-heels in love with him? In love enough that she couldn’t stand the thought of marrying him knowing he’d never return her feelings?
That seems so contrived to me. So as the novel wore on, I found myself becoming more and more angry with her. She was acting in a completely irresponsible way, naively expecting that all would turn out for the best, no matter how wild she became.
Her saving grace was the fact that was was naive. She’d been a sheltered girl, barely leaving her father’s estate until Edward brought her to London. So she wasn’t aware of some of the danger she was putting herself and her reputation in. She also wasn’t malicious. Though she didn’t always think before she acted, she didn’t wish for anyone to be harmed because of her.
I really liked Edward and Claire together. They had great chemistry. The scenes with them together, learning about each other, were my favorites. I also liked the secondary characters. Edward’s family and Claire’s sisters especially.
Though Claire’s actions bothered me, I enjoyed this novel for the most part. I’m anxious to read Mallory’s book (Edward’s sister, the next entry in the series) and also to read about Cade and Jack (the first two books in the series).
3.75 out of 5
Tempted by His Kiss
Seduced by His Touch
At the Duke’s Pleasure
Wicked Delights of a Bridal Bed
The Bed and the Bachelor