08 January 2013

She Tempts the Duke (The Lost Lords of Pembroke #1)

Summary from Goodreads:

Three young heirs, imprisoned by an unscrupulous uncle, escaped—to the sea, to the streets, to faraway battle—awaiting the day when they would return to reclaim their birthright.

Sebastian Easton always vowed he would avenge his stolen youth and title. Now back in London, the rightful Duke of Keswick—returning from battle a wounded, hardened, changed man—cannot forget the brave girl who once rescued him and his brothers from certain death.

Lady Mary Wynne-Jones paid dearly for helping the imprisoned young Lords of Pembrook, and she remembers well the promise she made to Sebastian all those years ago: to meet him once more in the abbey ruins where they shared a bold, forbidden kiss. While Mary is now betrothed to another, a friendship forged with dark secrets cannot be ignored. Unexpected passion soon burns dangerously between them, tempting Sebastian to abandon his quest for retribution and fight for a love that could once again set him free.

I liked the premise of this book (three boys who escape their murderous uncle with the help of a neighbor girl come back to exact revenge), how Heath set this book in and around Victorian London, included many historical bits, and the writing style was enjoyable. I liked this one enough that I want to read the next two books. I hadn't read any Lorraine Heath before, so it was a decent introduction.

What I found lacking was the resolution of the "murderous uncle" plot. Those bits of the book told from the uncle's perspective weren't illuminating as far as his motives to murder the four males between the dukedom and himself.  Those bits could have been dispensed with leaving the brothers and the reader, too, to puzzle it out on their own. The illustration of Mary's father as a weak-willed alcoholic was a combination of too many tropes in one character. Then there's the denouement (spoiler, so highlight to see the text):

Considering that Society was obviously more than happy to embrace assumption of the dukedom by a man who managed to "lose" his nephews under unexplained circumstances, and even happier to turn their backs on the brothers since they'd had a less than regular upbringing, how did Sebastian manage to avoid questions regarding the death of the uncle? It's completely glossed over.

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