The first book in Anna Harrington’s new sexy Regency trilogy about the Carlisle brothers—three unrepentant rakes who become respectable gentlemen when family tragedy strikes.
Miranda Hodgkins has only ever wanted one thing: to marry Robert Carlisle. And she simply can’t wait a moment longer. During the Carlisle family masquerade ball, Miranda boldly sneaks into his bedchamber with seduction on her mind. Soon she’s swept into rock-hard arms for the most breathtaking kiss of her life. But when the masks come off, she’s horrified to find herself face-to-face with Sebastian, the Duke of Trent—Robert’s formidable older brother.
Shocked to find Miranda in his bed, Sebastian quickly offers her a deal to avoid scandal: he’ll help her win his brother’s heart if she’ll find him the perfect wife. But what begins as a simple negotiation soon spirals out of control. For the longer this reformed rake tries to make a match for Miranda, the more he wants to keep her all to himself.
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If the Duke Demands (Capturing the Carlisles)
Her eyes narrowed as she took in that bit of dubious advice and contemplated what he asked of her, with a curious look of deep study and concentration. For a moment, her expression was damnably disconcerting as she tried to think up a compliment to give him, as if she had never truly noticed him before as a man. Which inexplicably irked him to no end. How could she have not noticed him before as someone other than the Duke of Trent, other than just a friend?
“What you’re asking of me is impossible.” She shook her head with a soft sigh of defeat. “Every man in this room knows the rank you hold, the power and influence you’re gaining in Parliament. As for the ladies, you should have seen the way they all watched you when you crossed the room to ask me to dance.” She shrugged. “What could I possibly add to what everyone has already told you about how wonderful you are?”
He stared at her, momentarily stunned speechless. What she’d just said was exactly the kind of compliment a man wanted to hear from a beautiful woman . . .
And he didn’t believe a word of it. When he saw her lips twitch with amusement, his eyes narrowed. “You are incorrigible.”
She laughed happily. “Perhaps.” Her eyes shined, and for a brief moment, she shifted closer, somehow rising up on tiptoes as she danced to bring her mouth close to his ear. “But it is all true, you know.”
Then she pulled back into her original position and looked at him shyly through lowered lashes even as the tip of her tongue darted out to wet her lips. The paradoxical effect of innocent seduction was mesmerizing, and for a moment, he forgot they were dancing in the middle of a crowded ballroom. For a moment, there was only Miranda. And the pull of her was undeniable.
When Miranda Hodgkins lost her parents, she went to live with her aunt and uncle who are land tenants of the local baron. She soon became great friends with the baron’s children, and became a fixture in the Carlisle household. As she started to leave childhood behind, she fancied herself in love with Robert Carlisle, the middle brother. Robert, however, still sees Miranda as a little sister, and still calls her by her childhood nickname of “Sprite.” When Robert shows marked interest in another woman, Miranda takes desperate steps. She dresses seductively, wears a mask, and waits in Robert’s bedroom, intent on showing him that she’s now a woman. When she has bewitched him, then she’ll remove her mask and reveal her true identity. The only problem is, she ends up in Sebastian’s bedroom instead.
Sebastian’s life has been filled with guilt, duties, and responsibilities since the death of his father. The unexpected bestowal of a dukedom has changed Sebastian from a carefree rake to a serious man who only lives to serve the dukedom and his family. Yet, when he finds a beautiful young woman in his bed, he can’t resist the temptation. He begins to seduce her, until she utters Robert’s name, stopping him dead in his tracks. He is horrified when he realizes that it’s Miranda, and even more surprised to find that she loves Robert. Of course, he sends her home.
Sebastian (now the Duke of Trent) has decided that it’s time he found a suitable bride, and provide an heir for the dukedom. The family will be going to London for the season, and Sebastian’s mother has already made arrangements to provide a season for Miranda, who has been like family, and so helpful to her when her husband died. Sebastian, ever conscious of the family’s reputation, makes a deal with the exuberant Miranda – if she will behave and not cause any scandal or disgrace to his family, he will help her attract Robert’s notice. Miranda is delighted, and agrees, even offering to pick up what gossip and information she can to help Sebastian in his search for a wife.
Since Sebastian’s family is sponsoring Miranda, he naturally escorts her to many of the balls and functions. Over the course of the season, the two become very close. Soon they are sharing confidences and risqué comments. They enjoy being in each other’s company more than anyone else. Soon they act on the attraction that has been building ever since the night Miranda snuck into his room. They become lovers, though Sebastian makes sure Miranda is aware they have no chance of a future together. When Miranda realizes she truly loves Sebastian, and there is no hope she’ll change his mind, she gives up on them and returns home to the country.
I feel that author Anna Harrington has written a masterpiece. Miranda is vibrant, impulsive, giving, passionate, and brave. She takes a gamble on winning Sebastian’s heart, which she does, but she can’t change his determination. Sebastian has become “Trent, the duke,” losing himself in the process. When he’s with Miranda, he finds himself again. He finds the joy and fun and happiness that he once felt, yet, he can’t run from something in his past that insists he marry a suitable noblewoman, not an orphaned commoner. Miranda and Sebastian are wonderful protagonists, and I fell in love with both of them. IF THE DUKE DEMANDS is written so skillfully and beautifully, that I was on the emotional roller coaster along with them. The heartbreak is so poignant, that it had me in tears. I had to stay up ’til the wee hours to finish this one. I love and highly recommend this steamy and heart wrenching story.
[…] See my review here […]