How to seduce an estranged husband—and banish debt!—in four wickedly improper, shockingly pleasurable steps…
1. Learn the most intimate secrets of London’s leading courtesan.
2. Pretend to be a courtesan yourself, using the name Juliet Leighton.
3. Travel to Venice and locate said husband.
4. Seduce husband, conceive an heir, and voilà, your future is secure!
For Julia, the Duchess of Colton, such a ruse promises to be foolproof. After all, her husband has not bothered to lay eyes on her in eight years, since their hasty wedding day when she was only sixteen. But what begins as a tempestuous flirtation escalates into full-blown passion—and the feeling is mutual. Could the man the Courtesan Duchess married actually turn out to be the love of her life?
Julia married her husband when she was just 16 years old. He then left – before consummating the marriage – for the continent and never returned. (He hated his father and as the father had contracted the marriage Nick wanted nothing to do with any of it) That was eight years ago. Since then Julia and her aunt have been living on a continually dwindling stipend that she receives from Nick’s cousin. They are just about destitute when Julia decides that the only way she’s going to get more money to live even a halfway decent life is to get pregnant with the Duke’s heir. Hard to do when she’s never had sex with the man.
Julia decides that she will head to Venice, act like a courtesan, sleep with her husband, get pregnant and then leave him. Sure, she’ll write him afterwards and let him know what she did but she doesn’t plan on telling him anything face to face. The whole deception is a bit tricky as she’s never actually HAD sex before so she hires a courtesan with the last of the money she has from selling her jewelry. This way she’ll know what to do – in theory.
Julia, who poses as Mrs. Juliet Leighton, is a complete success and almost from moment one her husband is entranced by her. It’s not long before they’re in bed together but Julia finds herself falling in love with him, which she wasn’t planning on doing. She’s had nothing but bad thoughts of him for eight years so it’s a bit hard to comprehend that it’s even possible to love him but she does. When she comes to terms with this she deserts Venice and Nick and heads back to England. On the ship ride back she realizes that she’s attained her goal – she’s pregnant.
When Nick finds out Juliet’s true identity he’s more than pissed off and heads back to England to give her a piece of his mind. He doesn’t believe that the baby is his when he finds out she’s pregnant – nor that Julia was a virgin when they slept together. He’s determined to keep her at arms length until he can figure out if the baby is his or not – and even then he’s not planning on having anything to do with her – even if he does love her.
There were so many things to love about this book. The setting, Venice, in the beginning of the book and the English countryside later, were lovely and well described. Though I hate deceptions in marriages I could understand how Julia would want to keep herself and her aunt financially safe and you know, fed. I couldn’t believe that this would be her first step to securing funds as she never wrote Nick to tell him what was going on, but there you have it. Their time together in Venice was fun and sexy and I really enjoyed it.
Once Nick followed Julia to England things became strained and I truly didn’t care for the way that Nick treated Julia. He didn’t believe her at all, which is understandable, but I hated the way he treated her and he fell a few notches in my esteem. Yes, he was angry but I truly thought he could have handled things better. He wasn’t a bad man or a bad hero but some of his words and actions needed to be rethought, that’s for sure.
Julia was a good woman with a bad idea. Yes, it did get her to know her husband but it was a pretty grand scheme for someone to pull off. She was a strong character, however, as she dealt with all of the happenings in the book with dignity.
Overall the book was a good one. It lagged a bit in the middle when the H/h were butting heads constantly but overall a solid story.
Rating: 3.5/3.75 out of 5