Berkley Sensation, $7.99, ISBN 978-0-425-22806-7
Historical Romance, 2009
One of these days author Donna MacMeans really should try to convince me that she can create realistic characters whose behavior is age appropriate. The Seduction of a Duke is not that book where this will happen, I’m afraid.
Francesca Winthrop, one of the richest heiresses in America and even in England, is not happy. She believes that she is in love with a solicitor. Never mind that she hasn’t kissed him yet – she is convinced that he is the one. Alas, Fran is dismayed when her mother decides that Fran would marry someone worthy of her station in life. Betrothed to the Duke of Bedford, she is nonetheless determined to run away and marry Randolph. Thwarted in her quest to become the new Rose DeWitt Bukater, she shows up dressed as the Statue of Liberty at a ball to demonstrate her newly appointed status as One of the Oppressed.
Fran is 26 years old.
Our Duke, William Chambers, has to marry a wealthy heiress in order to keep up with appearances, thanks to the mountain of debts his late father had left behind. Nonetheless, he is not pleased by this situation because his first wife married him for his title and now he’s sure that his new wife will have the same motive in marrying him. So he doesn’t give her any chance to endear herself to him. He is also convinced that Fran is pregnant with another man’s child. Don’t ask. I try not to make it a habit to explain an author’s stupid plot device to other people. At any rate, William will find all kinds of reasons to believe that Fran is pregnant. Fran wears sexy lingerie on her wedding night. That means she is definitely a slut, because we all know virgins don’t wear sexy clothes. There’s more, but I’m sure you get the idea of how stupid William is. His late wife most likely punched the air with her fist when she knew she was dying and her last words had to be, “Thank you, Jesus, and hallelujah for I am free of that braindead sod!”
William is a few years older than Fran.
Back in the 1800s, these characters would have been mature adults at their age. And yet here they are, behaving like emo brats who whine about their lot, conveniently forgetting that they are more fortunate than most people out there. I’m sorry, but I have little sympathy for a wealthy heiress who moans that she wants to marry for love, apparently having been raised in a vacuum so she is completely ignorant of the social norms of her time. Likewise, I think William’s constant whining about being viewed as nothing more than a Titled Husband is disgusting, especially considering how he is marrying Fran for her money rather than her love. Worse, he will later allow his ex-mistress (who is naturally portrayed as a skanky whore) to linger under the same roof as him and his wife – in the same manor that he is using Fran’s money to renovate. What a charmer, I can’t imagine why nobody has tried suffocating him to death using a pillow all this while.
It is tedious to have two overgrown brats whining about their privileged lives. It is even more painful to have the hero treat the heroine badly because he is too stupid not to die and spare me the misery of his pointless whinging existence, just as it is painful to see the dumb heroine try so hard to prove to her jackass husband that she is worthy of his love. If a woman has to go to such length to become a martyr in the relationship, she is better off without him. To top it off, William’s “epiphany” is not even convincing. He has to be scolded like a child before he goes pretty much, “Oh yeah, my wife is not the triple-decker super town bus whore like I thought she was… duh.”
If this book has ended with the two idiot main characters being swallowed by a giant anaconda, then it wouldn’t be so bad, really.