Of Dukes and DeceptionsOf Dukes and Deceptions by Wendy Soliman

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

ARC received through netgalley.com

I’d been looking at this one at netgalley for a while, so after reading some reviews, I scurried over and clickety-click! I downloaded. The funny thing is, that it’s the negative reviews that drew me in. I knew the majority of the plot since I’m a spoiler fiend, but I was really interested into the surprise bondage scene (don’t worry, it’s some lite bondage and spanking). An Historical Romance with a bit of bondage you say? Sign me up!

But what was bothersome about the sex scene was all the talk about his previous sexual encounters, his “schooling” of her, ugh. She asked him about his mistress, but none of it was dirty talk, or even remotely sensual, and Alicia “talking about Nick’s mistress had excited her…” No I don’t buy it because she kept getting jealous and there was nothing about the conversation that could have been sexy!

My main complaint about this book is the hero. If you could call him that. He’s a bored duke who’s tired of all the ladies throwing themselves at him. So he accepts an invitation to go see a certain stud horse owned by a middle class man with minor ties to the aristocracy. Well, it turns out that Nick meets Alicia and is rather refreshed that she doesn’t trip all over herself to impress him. In fact right then and there he makes a wager with his henchman to strip Alicia of that pesky virginity.

So, our hero is knowingly going to seduce his hostess out of her virginity with NO PLANS to marry her. At all. Even if caught, he’ll get out of it. Yeah, he’s a prince. Sign me up for one of him. His words, after he finally seduces her: “Alicia wasn’t some scullery maid but a well-connected lady, and he’d taken shameful advantage of her vulnerable state.” He knew that going in! As I mentioned, a prince.

Here are a couple more of his gems:

“Obedience is a very important trait in a female if she truly wishes to give her man pleasure and doesn’t wish to earn herself a punishment.”

“There is much you still have to learn before you receive the benefits of my rampancy.”

“That’s right Alicia,” he said, his voice thick with passion. “Ride it for all it’s worth. It’s all for you, every inch of it.”

And the heroine, ahh Alicia, she is a complete idiot. While at first I liked how she didn’t care one way or the other about his status as a duke, she caved without any seduction. At all. Seriously. When she decided to have sex with him, they’d only kissed twice. And both were quite G-rated and lukewarm. I felt zero passion on either side, even though nick is constantly telling us how passionate she is in life, he wants that passion submitting to him. That’s it. There is a lot of bantering and talking. But there is no seduction. Nick tells her she will want him and she will beg him. That’s the whole seduction.

Even during the sex scene she behaves like a child. It grossed me out to hear such childlike remarks like when he’s tickling her with a feather and asks where she feels it. “I feel it in my tummy…”

Now, [mini-spoiler] the D/s overtones are there, and she is blindfolded, tied up and spanked (not all together, 3 separate scenes), but none of it is in anyway overwhelming. I think it fits Nick’s personality very well, but I don’t think it fit with Alicia at all.

Within the first 9 pages I was actually sad to see that the writing isn’t very good. It’s as if the author over-used her thesaurus. Every other sentence had an overly-large word lending the tone a pretentious and at times awkward feel.

My final verdict is that I had to push myself to finish the book. I think that there is a lot of promise here, but it’s hidden in the arrogance a bored duke, and the ignorance of a very overly naive young lady.