SHE TEMPTS THE DUKE – Lorraine Heath
Lost Lords of Pembrook , Book 1 of 3
Twelve years ago, the Duke of Keswick was killed. His jealous brother, Lord David Easton, wanted what his brother had. Just one problem, or, rather, three problems, the former duke's sons. Sebastian became the new duke as the eldest at fourteen. Next in line were his brothers, his identical twin, Lord Tristan, and Lord Rafe, who was ten.
What to do? Lock them in the tower at Pembrook Castle and arrange a tragic hunting accident perhaps? Unbeknownst to Lord David, he had a fourth problem: Sebastian's best friend and neighbor, Lady Mary, then twelve, got wind of the plot and bravely released the three lords…for which act her father sent her to the nuns for safety. Gossip was rife about the disappearance of the boys who were never heard from again…until now.
Thanks to her aunt, Lady Mary Wynne-Jones is finally free of the convent and in London enjoying a Season with her younger cousin. She's even satisfactorily betrothed to Viscount Fitzwilliam. They attend a ball given by Lord David, who has petitioned the Chancery Court to declare the boys dead and to make him Duke of Keswick. The ball is suddenly interrupted when the steward loudly announces the arrival of the Duke of Keswick, and then continues by calling the names of Lords Tristan and Rafe Easton! The three lost lords of Pembrook are back and all grown up. And are they ever back! The revelers are stunned by the three, the youngest with a pistol at the steward's back. They look fierce with their longish black hair and five icy blue eyes glaring about the room. In spite of the scars marring one side of his face and the patch on his eye, Mary immediately recognizes Sebastian—she could always tell him from Tristan. What of Uncle David? Sebastian doesn't hesitate to give him orders to clear out in front of all his guests, and knows he will not go quietly but will bear watching.
This is the set-up to a riveting novel of passion, revenge, and further skullduggery.
Where is the friend of Mary's early years? Or the smiling humor of Tristan and the little boy that was Rafe? In fact, Sebastian could well ask where the hoydenish playmate of his youth has gone. While Mary has changed the least, the three lords are strangers almost to each other. Sebastian did the best he could at the time to keep them all safe, but it was necessary to spilt up. He was for the army, while Tristan went to sea, and Rafe? Well, that is a good question. All three are obviously successful financially, but remain fodder for speculation and gossip to the ton . Mary sees the sadness, even torment in Sebastian's one eye. He is wholly focused on regaining Pembrook and all else due to him as his father's son…and the total ruin of his uncle.
SHE TEMPTS THE DUKE is not always a soft read, but it's a truly excellent one. Nor is it easy to put down…not that anyone would want to. It's full of fascinating characters who meet challenges from without and within. While Mary and Sebastian carry most of the tale, we get to know and care for several others, especially the other lost lords. Their stories promise to be different, but just as spellbinding as SHE TEMPTS THE DUKE.