Series: Essex Sisters #3
Published by HarperCollins Publishers on November 28th 2006
FINAL DECISION: I liked this book but there was just too much going on with too complicated issues to be resolved so quickly. Despite that, I liked the romance between Rafe and Imogen which has been going on since book one of this series.
THE STORY: Imogen, Lady Maitland, has been widowed for a year and is ready to take a lover. She targets Gabe Spenser, the illegitimate brother of her former guardian, Rafe, Duke of Holbrook. Imogen has had a contentious relationship with Holbrook especially as he managed to almost drink himself to death. Newly sober, however, Rafe, has no intention of allowing Imogen to engage in illicit relations with another man. He masquerades as his brother intending to help Imogen avoid ruin. Instead, Rafe ends up engaging in a series of inappropriate encounters with the woman who constantly bedevils and entrances him.
OPINION: I was looking forward to this book because Rafe and Imogen seemed likely to set things on fire considering their arguments in past books. In that sense, I was not disappointed. Rafe and Imogen had an obvious connection from the beginning. Imogen spent much of the previous books being petulant and then grieving. As this book begins, she recognizes her prior bad actions and begins to act in a more mature way.
I liked the story about Rafe turning to sobriety after years of wallowing in drunkenness. My concern is that he makes that change and then his romance with Imogen happens so quickly after. While the epilogue assures readers that Rafe has been able to stick with his sobriety, I couldn’t help but feel apprehension during the story. It might be because of my personal experience with alcoholics or my modern thinking about the disease, but I found it difficult to turn off that part of my brain during the story. I wished that Rafe had decided to kick his drinking in a prior book to give some space before his romance with Imogen. That being said, there is nothing pretty or easy about Rafe’s journey.
Or maybe it was just one too many things for me to accept. The idea that Rafe could masquerade as his half brother without Imogen immediately realizing the deception was something that I had to accept on faith because it was just too impossible to imagine it actually happening. It was a silly farce much like the Shakespeare tropes upon which it is based, but it is not realistic. I did enjoy the situations it allowed Rafe and Imogen to become embroiled in and gave the story some much needed humor.
I just thought that there was too much crammed in here that it didn’t allow the romance the space and time and quiet it needed to really grab me. There was so much happening that Rafe and Imogen’s romance seemed to be resolved too quickly for my tastes. It just felt like there needed to be a little more development at the end to fully satisfy me.
WORTH MENTIONING: There are two romances in this book. Readers of MUCH ADO ABOUT YOU will be pleased to see the Miss Pythian-Adams again.
CONNECTED BOOKS: THE TAMING OF THE DUKE is the third book in the Essex Sisters series It can be read as a standalone although I think it is better to read Imogen’s whole journey which begins in book one.
STAR RATING: I give this book 3.5 stars.