Escaping to the horse barn one night, Mark Smythe, Duke of Strattington, overhears a young woman muttering about "who covers a cock?" and naturally his interest is quite ummm, aroused. The woman in question is Isabella Masters, or Isabella Smith as she introduces herself to this man whom she believes has come to the barn to take care of the problem that is bothering the high and might Duke. Little does she know she is rambling on to the actual duke about his wretched steward man and all his ridiculous rules. Isabella is a nursemaid on the run from a shameful and torrid past and she finds it utterly unfathomable that a duke would think himself so much better than anyone else that he would send a nursemaid out to the barn with the baby until the baby is quiet. As Isabella is prattling on, Mark is instantly drawn to her. He does not get a chance to say he is the duke, but a very unexpected one as he inherited from his late uncle after his death and his sons death, and all those horrid rules were the old dukes way of life. Not Marks. Instead Mark is able to feel like himself...not like his new title and rules in life and he enjoys the way Isabella talks to him. Just him.
As Isabellas employer, Mrs. Wattingham, is on the way to the kings coronation and Mark just happens to be going there as well, he conveniently arrives at all the same inns as Isabella and they continue to meet in the horse stables and continue their acquaintance. They only talk (well, for the most part..there are a few hot kisses) as Mark knows he needs to confess the full extent of his identity but the opportunity never presents itself until one very steamy encounter later in which they are discovered together does the whole truth about Mark become revealed to Isabella. Isabella is naturally shocked and hurt and when her employer tosses her out, Mark becomes her only option of survival. She is running from her family and needs funds to stay hidden and when Mark presents an opportunity, she is unable to refuse, though her heart wants too.
This was my first full length Lavinia Kent novel and it was full of steamy goodness! Even though the hidden identity isn't a favorite of mine, it worked in this story. Mark was well aware of the fact he needed to tell Isabella the truth but at the same time Isabella is hiding her own secrets and it takes her quite a bit of time to finally let Mark in. Both had valid reasons for why they did what they did though and it helped me enjoy the storyline. Now, I wanted to smack Mark upside the head a few times with his treatment of Isabella after they are discovered. He is having a hard time adjusting to being the duke and what is expected of him and his friends have to tell him a few times that he is the duke...he tells people what to do and they listen to him, not the other way around. Mark wants to offer Isabella the happy little cottage in the country together but feels like it is to beneath him as a duke. Oh, but when he finally stands up for Isabella at a very public ball (Isabellas past had finally caught up to her at this point and her situation was being resolved) it was so...perfect! Mark knew that Isabella loved him for him, not the duke status, and he showed his love for her in a most fitting way. And the epilogue left a big, happy smile on my face for the wonderful new duke that emerged from underneath so much pressure who loves the woman who helped him realize his full potential. I really enjoyed this book and I look forward to reading more! 4 stars
I received this ebook from the publisher via netgalley.com
If you are like me you like to read books in order and as I was reading What a Duke Wants I happened to see if Isabellas family had had their stories told already and I saw that they had. However, I am glad I did not read them first as I think I would have had different feelings about her family if I had read their books first so if you want to try Lavinia Kent, this would be an excellent book to start with and then go back, like I am :)
A Talent for Sin is about Isabellas sister and Bound By Temptation is about her brother. I'm not positive if Taken By Desire is connected as well but I would think it would be loosely as well.