Darian Hunter: Duke of Desire by Carole Mortimer

Posted by Mrs Giggles on November 4, 2014 in 2 Oogies, Book Reviews, Genre: Historical / 6 Comments

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Darian Hunter: Duke of Desire by Carole Mortimer
Darian Hunter: Duke of Desire by Carole Mortimer

Harlequin Historical, $6.50, ISBN 978-0-373-29809-9
Historical Romance, 2014


Yes, the hero’s name is Darian Hunter, and he is the Duke of Wolfingham. Of course it has to be Wolfingham. The hero is the biggest prime specimen of masculinity, and his dong will shrink by at least five inches if his title is, say, the Duke of Smokedham. He is the Duke of Desire! A “legendary rake” and a “notorious bachelor”!

Actually, the hype on the back cover is a bit misleading. Darian, like his BFF Zachary, is actually a secret agent for the Crown, and he uses his reputation as a shield for what he is really doing around town and abroad. When Darian Hunter: Duke of Desire opens, Darian suffers a bullet wound on his shoulder, but he bravely marches on to confront Mariah Beecham, the widowed Countess of Carlisle, whom his brother claims to have fallen in love with and will marry regardless of what Darian has to say about the matter. Naturally, Mariah’s open-all-day reputation is a lie; instead of being the neighborhood 7-11, she’s just being stiffly and prickly because her late husband was a grade A scum. Darian insists on believing that she’s a whore, which creates some problems because she’s also an agent of the Crown – surprise – and they have to pretend to be paramours and attend a hot sex party to foil an assassination plot on the Prince Regent. How can Darian concentrate when he is already conflicted by his feelings? He can’t make up his mind whether he’d like to sleep with Mariah and then call her a whore immediately after, or to sleep with her and then call her a whore maybe a little later.

Yes, this is another standard “Is she the town bike?” story, because it’s always palatable when a male town bicycle judges a female for daring to even being even a little like him. I know, we can all argue, “But that’s how guys think back in those days!” but if we want to take that as a yardstick for historical accuracy, then how about the rest of the story? Dukes and Countesses playing spies, for a start, and we can happily go downhill to wallow in the mud at the bottom from there.

Darian is basically a Greek tycoon with less body hair, more height, better wardrobe, and an English accent. Fortunately, he’s too ridiculous and over the top to be taken seriously, which is good as his interactions with the heroine can be quite misogynistic in nature. He nearly forces his attention on her during their initial encounter because he doesn’t believe that she is not leading his brother on and he would molest her to show her that she’s gagging for it like all women of her type – yes, once again, it’s a downhill slope and we can all be happy pigs rolling in the mud and going, “Oink to the Duke of Ham!” Darian is pretty dense, dumb, and the author tries so hard to make him the biggest and the baddest in the land that he comes off like a Cynster or Mallory beefcake on steroids – too hilarious to be believable.

A bigger issue here is the author making both characters spies and then having these characters behave more like lummoxes. For example, Darian is said to be a great spy, so he should be more aware than most that people are often not who they are said to be. However, he insists that Mariah is giving free Slurpees to all the boys in the land because people say so. He is only convinced that the Slurpee is all chilled and waiting only for him when she proves that she is more innocent than he thinks. Never mind the implication that she’s not good enough for the Duke of Ham-Every-Woman if she isn’t a victim of her past, the problem here is that we have a spy who so easily believes rumors to be gospel. The rest of his spy repertoire isn’t any better – he’s more like the muscle or the mule instead of a spy.

Mariah isn’t very convincing as a spy, either, because she’s too emotional for her job. She lacks the personality that would have made her choice of vocation believable. The idea that she can pry secrets out of guys, when she speaks more than she should the very first time she meets Darian!

And during their assignment, the two of them are far more fixated on the ups and downs of their feelings for the other person rather than on the mission. Darian, for example, scrutinizes the guests in the party not for clues or anything else, but to search for signs whether they may have bought Slurpees from Mariah before. England must be really short-handed when she recruited these two jokers to play at being spies.

If the author had done without the spy angle, Darian Hunter: Duke of Desire would have been a standard misogyny and big wee-wee tale. Put in the spy angle, however, and the couple become clowns rather than hounds of love.

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Cantankerous muffin who loves boys that sparkle, unicorns, money, chocolates, and fantastical stories.

6 responses to “Darian Hunter: Duke of Desire by Carole Mortimer

  1. AQ

    I prefer the Duke of Salami or the Duke of Cheesy Kielbasa. Or maybe HamHocks instead of SmokedHam. Hmmm… pea soup with some potato and hamhocks… as long as the meat isn’t too salty. LOL (yes, I’m lame)

    Any chance with your new format that you’ll go back to an occasional blog post now and again?

  2. AQ

    Ahh, I accidentally dumped my comment. Oh well, it wasn’t that important.

    Too bad about the blogging. I enjoyed your take. I was hoping to hear how your Scandal go-round was going. I never did go back after the very first Momma reveal, which I fear was a shame. I was also hoping to hear more on your Elementary v. Sherlock take. I enjoy both shows for very different reasons, although the last season of Sherlock was a touch too much ADD for my personal taste.

    In your honor (or rather the Duke of SmokedHams), I ordered a Monte Cristo sandwich. It’s been at least 20 years since I had one and there are so many ways it can go so very wrong, but this one was pretty tasty. Mostly because it was real ham. LOL

    I did read the next two Max Gladstone books but I really missed Tara the narrator in the first. Trying to work up the energy to read the next Kate Daniels but I think this is one where I need a few books off before I consider coming back. Or I might just be done. Outside of that I’m trying the Dangerous Women anthology because I am in a deep deep reading funk and hope one of these stories can pull me out.

  3. I have the two Gladstone books, but I can’t wade through the first one. Something about it just fails to capture my attention. Maybe ome day.

    I’ve heard about the Dangerous Women anthology, but I’m waiting for paperback release. Is it good?

    I’ve dropped Scandal from my TV list and I refuse to watch the new lawyer version of the same brand of soap opera because I don’t believe Shonda Rimes can sustain any series beyond 1/2 season. Same with Ryan Murphy and the American Horror Story franchise. S1 is okay, S2 started out good but when WTF by the time it came to an end, S3 is all self-indulgence nonsense, and S4 seems to be all about stunt casting. I’m out.

    I actually like Elementary more than Sherlock, although I like both. Maybe because Benedict Cumberbatch looks like an alien to me and I can’t stand his crazy fans on Tumblr.

    I can get the new Kate Daniels on the Kindle store, but I’m a bit wary after the last few books. I’m waiting for the new book from Avon – first in a new series, I believe – to see how that one goes. Kate Daniels fatigue has set in for me, although I hear the evil daddy is quite intriguing.

  4. AQ

    Gladstone. The ending of the first book plus the world made it worthwhile for me but boy I did struggle with it. Second was quicker but I never made any sort of attachment to a different narrator. Plus it was in a different part of the world so like Earth a slightly different reality based in the same Universe.

    Dangerous Women: I’ve only read a couple so far. They’ve been well written and complete unto themselves. I can see why people like Joe Abercrombie and Brandon Sanderson. I enjoyed both stories although I don’t know if I’d read long stories from them or not. It would probably be a mood thing. Sanderson especially because it has that slow savor me epic style fantasy feel with fantastical horror monsters on the edges. I liked the Butcher entry with Molly from the Dresden Files. And that’s all I’ve read so far. Still in a funk so take it with a grain of salt. Huge book even for a hardcover. Just under 800 pages. I would think it would need to be put into multiple volume to go into paperback. There is a Kindle version for just under $12 USD. What I am struck by with the three shorts I read is that the women are the actual leads and it’s their stories (and it should be with Dangerous Women as the title). I don’t always feel that way in Urban Fantasy or Romance.

    Scandal: So it wasn’t just me. Good to know. Didn’t start How to Get Away with Murder. I watched American Horror Story: Murder House but never followed the story beyond that. Maybe because I streamed it over a weekend and that was enough.

    Elementary feels more police procedural to me with the Sherlock & Watson names tacked on. Sherlock feels more campy with the standard Moffatt style dialogue and storytelling. (Kind of an issue because he uses similar arcs in Doctor Who.) BC, I liked it better before he became a big star. My favorite character is Mycroft and least is Moriarity on BBC version. I dislike the short BBC seasons but like the longer episodes. I do like that the characters are in different places in their lives with the 2 versions.

    I really enjoyed Orphan Black. Season 1 was very good. 2 a little uneven and I started to worry whether or not the writers know where they are going (answer: no). The twist at the end was interesting but I suspect the science of it all could start falling apart very soon (yes, the edges have already started to). Still Tatiana Maslany really makes you buy the multiple characters she portrays as individual characters and their quirks.

    I went out to IA’s website to look at the new series. I don’t know. The main characters are 1 woman and 3 men. Part of why I liked KD was because it was a different world populated with powerful men AND women. I’m kind of over the one woman surrounded by powerful men meme so I don’t know if I’ll start this one.

    On the other hand, your review of Clean Sweep did sound interesting.

    KD is kind of like BSG in that I loved the possibilities and where I thought the writers were originally taking me but kind of feel tricked because somewhere along the road, they decided to start telling me a different story (in BSG they were as it was different writers).

    People have raving about Outlander the TV series but a) never read the books (yes, I know) and b) I don’t trust Ron E. Moore to go the storytelling distance although to be fair the story is already written for him. I suspect I’m reaching a similar point with KD. Evil Daddy should be the end book instead it’s the springboard into hardcover so I just don’t know.

    Ah, series, we love what we love until the world falls apart. LOL

  5. “Ah, series, we love what we love until the world falls apart.”

    That should be on a T-shirt.

    I have never been able to finish any Diana Gabaldon books either, so don’t feel bad. I have no interest in the TV series as a result. I’m waiting for when the TV series deviate from the books (have it already?), with popcorn ready, because we all know the more crazy fans would just flip out!

    I just gave up on Scorpion, so I may just check out Orphan Black. I don’t watch many TV nowadays, mostly because they raised cable TV fees over here and most of the new shows feel like retreads of old shows I’ve seen before. The disadvantage of being old, I guess.

    I like Elementary mostly because of the chemistry between Jonny Lee Miller and Lucy Liu. I never liked Sherlock Holmes much (always preferred the more occult/fantastical stories from Doyle), and I couldn’t stand Dr Who much (BLASPHEMY I KNOW), so it’s a given that I lean more towards Elementary 🙂

    I’m actually a rogue fan in that everyone seems to adore the holy triumvirate (Sherlock, Supernatural, Dr Who) while I won’t shed tears if they get canceled or axed.

    It’s pretty embarrassing, but the only TV show I’m really looking forward to is the next season of RuPaul’s Drag Race. I’m over reality TV, over many paranormal/sci-fi TV shows, over many dramas, and usually tune in these days just to see whether the lead actors are hot enough to follow. Oh dear.