They are masters of seduction, London's greatest lovers . . .Waking Up With The Duke by Lorraine Heath was a highly anticipated read for me. I had a few doubts about the premise when I read the summary, but still there was hope. It could have worked.
Renowned for his bedchamber prowess, Ransom Seymour, the Duke of Ainsley, owes a debt to a friend. But the payment expected is most shocking, even to an unrepentant rake—for he's being asked to provide his friend's exquisite wife with what she most dearly covets: a child.
Living for pleasure, they will give their hearts to no one . . .
Lady Jayne Seymour, Marchioness of Walfort, is furious that such a scandalous agreement would be made. If she acquiesces, there must be rules: no kissing . . . and, certainly, no pleasure.
Until love takes them by surprise.
But unexpected things occur with the surprisingly tender duke—especially once Lady Jayne discovers the rogue can make her dream again . . . and Ransom realizes he's found the one woman he truly cannot live without.
Let's begin by summarizing the story. Walfort is crippled and impotent as the result of a carriage accident that occurred a few years back while carousing in Ainsley's company. Walfort feels Ainsley owes him a great debt since he was the driver at the time of the accident, and as repayment asks him to bed his wife so Walfort can have an heir, and Jayne a child. Jayne was pregnant at the time of the accident and lost her baby when she found out Walfort was injured, she dislikes Ainsley and blames him for the accident but agrees to bed him for a month to please her husband and to conceive a child. Ainsley feels guilt over Walfort's injuries, but his agreement is based on his secret attraction to Jayne and a desire to make her happy.
I really liked Ainsley in the previous stories and loved the way he was characterized. However, because of the way he was previously portrayed, I just couldn't see him taking such a passive role throughout this whole situation. In Waking Up with the Duke, Ainsley is still a likable character to a certain extent. Initially, he's deeply attracted, but evidently falls in love with Jayne quickly and although not quite seductive, Ainsley is both tender and passionate. However, even considering the guilt involved and the strong attraction he feels for Jayne, I still feel that he plays too passive a role with both Jayne and Walfort. They walk all over him and that's not the Ainsley I expected to encounter in this book.
Jayne's character is incomprehensible to me. She loves Walfort and dislikes Ainsley, but decides to go along with Walfort's crazy scheme to pacify him and to selfishly gain a child by using Ainsley. In the process she never really gives a thought as to how this will affect the man. In the beginning, I didn't care for her for that one reason alone. Jayne blames Ainsley for her husband's situation. Why? Even without having deep knowledge of what occurred the evening her husband was crippled, it was well-known that Walfort chose to go on that carriage ride and that he was known for his recklessness. Why didn't she place any blame on Walfort's shoulders?
Later on during their month together, Jayne certainly falls fast (and I mean fast!) enough for Ainsley's sexual seduction and supposedly falls in love with him. The bedroom scenes between Jayne and Ainsley are both sensual and steamy, and Ms. Heath excels in creating a personal intimacy between the two that for a while spells romance. But that feeling is quickly lost... because how the heck does that tie in to even later when Jayne, again, blames Ainsley for her husband's failings after finding out the truth, or when she selfishly won't think of their child's future, let alone Ainsley, yet she gives Walfort a pass after discovering his blatant betrayal and lack of respect?
Obviously, Jayne is not a favorite character and Ainsley didn't quite do it for me either. To top it all off, we never really get a real picture of how Walfort really feels. Some of his thoughts throughout the story don't make sense when taken into consideration how it all ends. The plot is highly implausible and the resolution even more so. I did like the resolution to the secondary romance, that of Leo (good for Leo!) and the Duchess of Ainsley who is my favorite recurring character throughout this series.
I'm glad that I was able to finish this series, especially since the first two books of Ms. Heath's London's Greatest Lovers trilogy were both highly enjoyable reads. Unfortunately, although Waking Up With The Duke has its good moments, overall it fell short of the mark for me.
Category: Historical Romance
Series: London's Greatest Lovers
Publisher/Release Date: Avon/July 1, 2011 - Kindle Edition
Visit Lorraine Heath here.
Passions of a Wicked Earl, #1
Pleasures of a Notorious Gentleman, #2
Waking Up With The Duke, #3