How to seduce an estranged husband—and banish debt!—in four wickedly improper, shockingly pleasurable steps…
1. Learn the most intimate secrets of London’s leading courtesan.
2. Pretend to be a courtesan yourself, using the name Juliet Leighton.
3. Travel to Venice and locate said husband.
4. Seduce husband, conceive an heir, and voilà, your future is secure!
For Julia, the Duchess of Colton, such a ruse promises to be foolproof. After all, her husband has not bothered to lay eyes on her in eight years, since their hasty wedding day when she was only sixteen. But what begins as a tempestuous flirtation escalates into full-blown passion—and the feeling is mutual. Could the man the Courtesan Duchess married actually turn out to be the love of her life?
Worldbuilding: The Venice setting was pretty awesome, full of that magic je ne sais quoi, all romantic and luscious and fun. I enjoyed the London part of the story too, of course, with the token ton attitudes and gossip and the like.
Characters: Julia was a surprising historical romance heroine, because she was very determined and quite practical in places, though pretty irrational in others. The whole pregnancy plan was a surprisingly calculated move and integrating that into a romantic scenario isn’t that easy. It might bother some readers, in fact, but I quite enjoyed it.
Nick was everything you’d expect from a Duke, pretty infatuated, alpha-like, all charming, selfish…a charmer, lol! But I enjoyed him, and the two of them together. They had really hot chemistry, explicit lots of one on one, lol, and the nature of their relationship was more in the contemporary vein than a society-norms-driven kind of vibe. I liked that.
Plot: The planned pregnancy trope was pulled off pretty well, and it came with the virgin one too. A pretty surprising mix, and it made for a tense, exciting story – at times frustratingly so. This was gutsier historical romance, more active emotionally and more tense than the “old-school” historical romance vibe.
Writing: Third person, past tense narrative, his and her POV. Liked their voices and the writing was pretty cool, not too historical-tone, a bit playful and gutsy in a way, but without conflicting with the setting. Loved that!
Curb Appeal: Cool cover, hooking blurb – impulsive buy material for my historical romance moods.
The Courtesan Duchess was an interesting and surprisingly pleasant read, though also frustrating at times (because Nick, lol!). I tend to find ton-bsed romances a tad boring more often than not, but this was a gutsier take on that and I found I really had fun reading it. Give it a try if you’re a bit of a rebel, like I am 😀