Series: Wicked Trilogy #3
Published by Jove on May 31st 2016
“He was not really a wicked duke. Well, not with the daughters of country neighbors. Not normally, at least.”
FINAL DECISION: A book about connections with people and the pain and joy they bring, THE WICKED DUKE has a sexy and moody Duke and the woman who brings lht and joy into his life. Loved it and found it a fitting end to a wonderful series.
THE STORY: Lancelot Hemingford, Duke of Aylesbury, is suspected of having poisoned his older brother in order to inherit the title. Forced to give up his hellraising ways in London to “behave” in the country, Lance meets Marianne Radley who breaks through his ennui. Blackmailed into pursuing the intriguing woman, Lance ends up finding out that pursuing Marianne is not onerous at all. Marianne believes the wicked man might be responsible for the seduction of her young cousin, but finds herself accepting his proposal of marriage to protect her family but also because she is tempted by this bad man.
OPINION: The third book in the Wicked Trilogy lives up to the promise of the previous books. Lance and Marianne dance lightly around one another and find an acceptance and happiness that neither expects as their marriage begins. I’m a big fan of romances where the couple marries and then has to go deeper into the relationship to find their ultimate happiness.
Lance is moody and feeling constrained and depressed through most of the book. His dead brother haunts and diminishes his life. The second son who always was considered less than the heir — even if the heir was mean, petty and destructive. The complexity of the reality is that Lance, even knowing how his brother was, still has some ambivalent feelings toward his brother. He cannot shake that minimal familial connection until all has been revealed at the end.
The sense of connection with family even when they are wrong, evil, and destructive is explored in intriguing ways in this book. It is not always easy to cut people out of our lives even when we know that they are destructive and not nice. Shared history, family ties and even futile hope keeps pulling us towards people who we might “know” are not worth our efforts.
At the same time, as this novel explores, these people can cause tremendous damage.
Lance and Marianne both suffer because of relatives and yet, they are brought together by those same people. Marianne is a perfect complement to Lance. She is open and caring and loving. She is willing to sacrifice herself for others and that is what leads her into marriage with Lance. This is the opposite of Lance, who has shut himself off from others except for his younger brothers. And that is where both Lance and Marianne have similarities. They both deeply love those close to them and will do everything to protect them.
One thing I have loved in this series is the sibling relationship between the three brothers. Affection, annoyance, caring and bossiness. These men demonstrate a relationship that kept me interested in knowing them and their stories.
Marianne brings lightness into Lance’s life. He clearly teeters on depression but Marianne opens him up. The sexy flirting — and perhaps the hottest hand kissing scene ever — show Lance to be dangerous to Marianne’s virtue and yet these two end up with the most conventional courtship of any of the wicked brothers. That itself is amusing for a man who proudly proclaims himself wicked. As they fall deeper into the emotional connection with one another, the two find a satisfaction and joy that they didn’t expect.
The two have hurdles to overcome as they both have secrets to be revealed and the possible murder of Lance’s brother to solve. Yet, even as the mystery begins to be unraveled, the book never loses sight of the centrality of the connection between Lance and Marianne.
For me, a five star book is one I immediately want to read again. After completing this book, I can’t wait to start the entire series over again.
The three books of this series are the first I have ever read by Madeline Hunter. I enjoyed them tremendously and look forward to reading more.
WORTH MENTIONING: I don’t think the blurb of this book accurately depicts the plot. I seems to suggest that Marianne marries Lance in order to trap and expose him. That is not what occurs at all.
CONNECTED BOOKS: THE WICKED DUKE is the third book in the Wicked Trilogy. This book is self contained and can be read as a standalone although the characters from the first two books are important here and also this book resolves the questions regarding the mysterious death of the oldest brother.
STAR RATING: I give this book 5 stars.
NOTE: I received a copy of this book from the author in order to provide a review. I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions contained herein are my own.