Thursday, February 28, 2013

Author:  Alexandra Hawkins
Rating:   ★★★

What happened? I have been waiting for Alexandra Hawkins' next book in the Lords of Vice series, Dusk with a Dangerous Duke, for months, and now that it's here I feel a tad let down. When I finished the book, I was like... "Huh?"

They were children when the Duke of Huntsley was introduced to Lady Grace Kearly. The young duke—nicknamed “Hunter”—took one look at his future bride and thought only of escaping his responsibilities to his family. Marriage was for grown-ups and Hunter still had years of skirt-chasing ahead of him. But now the time has come for Hunter to heed the call: if this Lord of Vice hopes to keep all of his inheritance, he’ll have to claim his long-neglected betrothed…

With her twenty-first birthday approaching, Lady Grace dreads the thought of marrying the duke she has met only once—especially since he’s grown into a notorious rake who will probably beget his heir and abandon her in the country while he pursues fresh game in London. So when Lady Grace coolly decides to call the wedding off, even Hunter is surprised by his refusal to let her go. Suddenly, the notion of claiming and taming this green-eyed beauty is one challenge he cannot resist…

As with other Lords of Vice books (read my reviews of books 1-4 and book 5 here), Dusk with a Dangerous Duke was tantalizing and sexy, but it was barely such compared to the previous books! I felt like the book was seriously short and lacking in story. Some books you dislike for going on and on but a book with a delicious plot like this, you just want it to go on and on.

The premise of the plot was exciting: being betrothed to a woman all your life and when Hunter was finally ready, he's rebuffed and refused, and even threatened that the marriage will not go through at all. Hunter was feeling possessive by that time already (are all men really like this?) and was challenged to convince Grace to push through with the wedding. That and the fact that he doesn't want his cousin to get some of his lands that he inherited from his dowager grandmother whom he loved very much.

Hunter was...acting like an arse, as Regan so aptly pointed out several times. He left Grace on her own for nineteen years (although he did provide for her and increased her wealth through investments), but she was just waiting for him and he never came. At least, she thought he didn't. I'll get back to that point later. I like Hunter, he seemed virile and naughty, but this was not explored much in the story. He had so much potential to tease us readers and make us laugh with his antics.

Grace, on the other hand, is my kind of woman: brave and smart. She also wasn't spiteful despite being left on her own all those years, and she was not afraid to go to London on her own. Also, in the end, she was honest enough to admit to herself that she wanted her husband. I think that takes guts despite getting her heart broken for several years.

Of course, Frost is also in the picture, and he really is outrageous. I think that he is slowly being more comfortable with love, as he makes a comment that Regan truly is happy with Dare, something that I think he would not have said before. Also, I really admire that he's so protective of his friends. I admit that he can be a complete jerk (remember what happened with him and Madam Venna and Saint?), but there were several instances when he proved himself to be a good friend: One was when he stared darkly at Walker, Hunter's cousin, while he dared to flirt with Grace at a ball, and second was when he readily offered himself as Dare's second and took care of Hunter's business. I'm not really into bad boys, but Frost intrigues me to no end.

What I didn't like about the story is the numerous loose ends at the end of the story. What happened to Portia, why was that incident not even explained to Grace? I think she deserved an explanation of why Hunter really chafed against their marriage for so long. Second, what happened to Strangham? Did Hunter tell Grace what Strangham really did to her parents? Who will inherit the dukedom now that Strangham is dead, and how does this affect Grace? Third, Hunter is a duke, and a man with his lofty position would have several household help so how did Walker get into his place and start a fire without anyone noticing? Fourth, how did Grace and Hunter end up married? I mean, he sets her on the road outside a carriage, and the next chapter says they're married. Just like that. Fifth, Hunter visited her home in the countryside at least a couple of times, but why was Grace not even aware of this? Did her Butler not tell her at all? And why did Hunter not even tell her? She wrote to him all those years, but I don't think he even got any of that. Also, what's up with Rosemary's serious beef with Hunter? Hunter mentions that Rosemary has been poisoning Grace's ears for years. And when they got married, what happened to Rosemary, who was supposed to be closer to her than a mother could have been?

The plot was too fast, and the book too short. The book ends abruptly with them declaring their love for each other. Yes, just like that Hunter realizes he's in love when there was no mention of him coming to admire Grace for who she is, although her admiration for her body and sexiness leaves no room for doubt.

If you're a fan of the Lords of Vice series, I think this is still a good book to read, just so you can complete the whole story. There were a few balms to my disappointment such as Hunter's comments about marriage and women being obedient, which all his married friends found funny (and rightly so). Also, seeing more sides to Frost just ups the intrigue for his own story. Also, it just might be me who found the story a bit short.

Ciao, and happy musings!