The Duke Who Ravished Me
I first met Sunny in From London With Love, which I don’t remember much of, but I do recall Sunny with a different woman or women in his lap at any given time. Seriously, Sunny is such a prolific manwhore, I’m surprised he’s survived as long as he has without catching syphilis. Needless to say, I expected to struggle liking him… and I did.
The book opens with Sunny entertaining two women in his playroom when his butler informs him that two children have just arrived with their governess (the heroine) and they are now his new wards. Terribly put out and eager to return to his exploits, Sunny tries to send them away that instant despite the fact they just traveled six days straight. Luckily, one of the girls gets sick and the governess, Isabel, convinces the doctor to tell Sunny that the girl needs at least a week’s rest before she can travel again.
Upset that he had to send his two “doxies” away due to the unexpected intrusion, Sunny sets out to do everything in his power to push the governess and the girls away. First point of business? Host an orgy in his famous playroom the next evening, making sure plain, unbeautiful, long in the tooth Isabel gets a jarring eyeful of him and his guests in flagrante. After that, he temporarily stalls his parties and resorts to going out every evening, staying out all night with random women, and returning late the following day hungover to high hell.
So, once beautiful but now soft in the center Sunny isn’t the least bit attracted to Isabel and annoyingly, harps on it endlessly.
With her lackluster wheat-colored hair and ordinary features she was more plain than pretty. At least half the women in the metropolis were better looking than Finch [Isabel] and most definitely had a better countenance.
But don’t worry about Isabel getting the wrong idea however, because he has no qualms about sharing his feelings.
*The night before, he saw Isabel in his nightclothes and found her surprisingly attractive in her near-naked state, so he kissed her and grabbed her breast. This is his apology:
“I realize what occurred last evening must have been a shock for someone like you.”
A crease appeared between her well-defined eyebrows. “Someone like me?”
“An unmarried woman of limited means and”-he waved in her general direction with his hand-“limited… erm… assets, if you take my meaning.”
Her eyes narrowed[…]. “Limited assets.”
“I just mean to say, I understand that a woman such as yourself, given your age and general situation, has likely not had to suffer the attentions of men.”
Ah, but this quickly changes when he realizes his friend and doctor, Tom, has shown an interest in Isabel and clearly plans on courting her. No worries, though, because Sunny nips that right in the bud and demands Tom stay away.
Soon after, Sunny hosts a ball and demands Isabel attend purely for the satisfaction of seeing her uncomfortable, but that bites him in the ass when most men in attendance, Tom included, seem to take an extreme liking to Isabel. Ahhh, now he sees her in an entirely new light and he ends up seducing her that evening. The next day, Isabel returns with the girls to their previous guardian’s residence due to her regret and fear of having to live in Sunny’s home and watch him continue with his playroom romps.
Over a month passes and in that time Sunny has remained celibate- not for lack of trying, he simply can’t get it up with other women anymore- and his friend points out that he’s becoming domesticated. Well now Sunny can’t stand for that, so he hosts another orgy in his playroom that evening. Conveniently, the same evening Isabel and the girls make their surprise return. Not expecting them to be home, Sunny doesn’t bother to shut the door, so Isabel has the privilege of seeing a partially nude woman riding a clothed Sunny as he fondles her breasts and kisses her. Isabel, feeling sickened, retreats before she witnesses Sunny sending the woman away because he again couldn’t get aroused.
Soon after that evening, Sunny sets an appointment with a widow with plans of making her his mistress. But again, as he’s undressing her, he realizes he still isn’t aroused. But he just can’t figure out why.
After that, Sunny and Isabel settle on being friends, but things again progress into more and I resume crossing my fingers that he doesn’t pass a deadly STD onto poor Isabel. Sunny develops a warm relationship with the girls and actually starts acting like a decent man, even though at the 86% mark he was still doubting his ability to ever be satisfied with only having sex with Isabel.
“However, as enchanted by Isabel as he was at the moment, he couldn’t envision never again bedding another woman.”
Gosh, Sunny. Don’t start getting all romantic on me or anything.
The climax of the story occurs when Sunny mistakenly believes Isabel has betrayed him by attempting to get his guardianship removed, and that’s when any softening I’d had toward him stopped. He tosses her out, but not before threatening to ruin her reputation by spreading stories about how she, a lowly servant governess, chased and seduced the licentious Duke of Sunterford. Honestly, it was one of the cruelest threats a hero has ever uttered.
Surprisingly, there’s a pretty significant twist at the end that was actually pretty impressive. That, and the fact that I mostly liked Isabel and that the writing was decent, are the reasons I didn’t DNF the story. I can only take so many characters excusing his behavior all because he had cold and distant parents and a philandering father. It wasn’t enough.
I’ll leave you with two parting quotes that were so untrue and absurd, I have no idea why the author included them:
“Promise me you’ll never leave me again.”
Sunny, Sunny. You fired and then tossed her out with nowhere to go and then threatened to destroy her reputation. Get it right.
“I haven’t even looked at another woman since you and the girls came into my life.”
Did he keep his eyes closed every time he slept with one of his countless bed partners? Because if not, this is a blatant lie and the fact that the heroine didn’t call him on it practically ruined the already rushed and unsatisfying ending.
I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.