After six unsuccessful Seasons, Miss Minerva Dodger chooses spinsterhood over fortune-hungry suitors. But thanks to the Nightingale Club, she can at least enjoy one night of pleasure. At that notorious establishment, ladies don masks before choosing a lover. The sinfully handsome Duke of Ashebury is more than willing to satisfy the secretive lady’s desires—and draws Minerva into an exquisite, increasingly intimate affair.
A man of remarkable talents, Ashe soon deduces that his bedmate is the unconventional Miss Dodger. Intrigued by her wit and daring, he sets out to woo her in earnest. Yet Minerva refuses to trust him. How to court a woman he has already thoroughly seduced? And how to prove that the passion unleashed in darkness is only the beginning of a lifetime’s pleasure?
Minerva Dodger has had six seasons, and no luck in love. Her large dowry attracted many suitors, but none who wanted Minerva for herself, and she won’t settle for less. Convinced that she will be single all her life, Minerva makes a bold decision to visit an anonymous sex club, and at least experience physical pleasure. At this club, the women are masked, but the men aren’t. She’s approached by Nicholson Lambert, the Duke of Ashebury (Ashe), and agrees to accompany him to his room. After a little time spent together, Ashe realizes that Minerva is innocent, and reluctantly urges her to leave, much as he wants her to stay. He tells her that she should be a little in love with her first lover. Ashe also intends to find out who this mystery lady is, as he’s very intrigued by her.
Ashe lost his parents when he was only eight years old in a tragic and horrific train wreck. He’s still haunted by nightmares and visions of the wreck and his angry parting words to his parents as they left him to go on that ill fated journey. He’s tried to offset the ugliness with photographing beauty and by going on adventures with his three friends, who, along with him, are called the Hellions of Havisham.
It doesn’t take Ashe long to become almost certain that Minerva is his mysterious lady of the evening. For a while, they play a cat and mouse game, as Ashe tries to coerce her into revealing her identity. Even after they become intimate, Minerva only removes her mask in the dark, and won’t admit who she really is.
Ironically, the wealthy duke’s fortunes take a turn for the worse, and he is suddenly in need of cash, such as a large dowry. He decides that he must marry, and that Minerva is the ideal candidate because of her wealth, and because of their explosive chemistry together. He begins a serious courtship, and the smitten Minerva accepts his proposal. Then she finds out about his finances.
These actions appear to paint Ashe as a calculating fortune hunter, but he’s actually a better person than that. He has always treated Minerva with respect and made her feel beautiful and wanted. He defends her, and admires her traits that have turned other men off. He did his best to be a good steward for his dukedom, but was hampered by a disability that hindered his financial skills. He feels a genuine regard and affection for Minerva when he begins his courtship, at the time he just doesn’t realize he’s in love.
Minerva is a straight-up, no-nonsense lady. She has been courted for years only for her fortune, and is tired of it. Though she has fallen in love with Ashe, she can’t bring herself to marry a man who only desires her money. She confronts Ashe directly, and when he confirms his financial situation, she tells him she won’t marry him.
Lorrain Heath has crafted another wonderfully written story with characters you can’t help but love. I totally understood why Ashe and Minerva acted the way they did. Though this trope has been done many times before, this story was fresh and interesting, and the resolution was perfect. The chemistry was hot, and the romance was emotional and satisfying. I loved visiting old friends from the Scoundrels of St. James series, although you can easily read this book as a standalone. Falling Into Bed With a Duke will be added to my favorites of 2015 list, and I highly recommend it