The first in Anna Harrington’s historic romance series, Capturing the Carlisles, comes with laughs, a mistaken proposition and a friends to lovers trope that is both sweet and amusing. Narrated by Justine Eyre, please read on for my review of
If the Duke Demands
Miranda was raised by her aunt and uncle, tenants on the Duke of Trent’s land, after her parents’ deaths. Soon the young girl became friendly with the Carlisle children, finding a particular fondness for Robert, the second son. So much fondness in fact, that now the grown up Miranda believes that she and Robert are meant to be together and married, even as he calls her ‘Sprite” and treats her much as one would a sister. She’s got a plan though: information from a footman, a ton of daring, a mask and a seduction that will thoroughly bewitch the man. Funnily enough, she gets into the room, discovers many signs that their match is meant to be, and despite her nerves sets her plan in motion. Unfortunately, her target is in another room and she is faced with Sebastian, now Duke of Trent and reformed rake: and his shock at finding the young woman and discovering her plan to ensnare Robert doesn’t fit with his idea of the sort of woman he should marry.
Sebastian is a man who is so busy being “Duke” that he’s forgotten himself in the process. He’s burdened with many responsibilities, true, but he’s almost become a shadow of himself, afraid to put a foot wrong. And Miranda is such the wrong path that even as he enjoys his time with her, and is loath to see her with another man, even his brother, he can’t see a way out of his decision to marry a woman of substance and title, more suited to her married role.
Harrington does a lovely job of presenting these two, and developing their relationship throughout the story. Both realize, at some point, that they are well-matched, but Mranda’s childish grip to the idea of Robert and her imagined feelings for him are impeding her ability to see what is in front of her. And Sebastian’s past experiences and hurt from them, as well as his rather dogged determination to be a paragon of virtuous Dukehood keeps him from daring to reach for his own desires. The back and forth is strong here, and still the personalities and the joy in their connection shines through.
Narration is by Justine Eyre and she captures the youthful light that is Miranda, even with her nervousness in hatching her plan, there is a sense of enjoying every new moment, every new thing. Her ability to become Miranda and present her thoughts and actions with that sense that borders on the desperate moves to capture the one love you will ever have was clear and evident. Sebastian was also presented in a manner that was expected: his moments where the iron-clad grasp to proper slipped, and he had time to just be were among some of my favorites. Never over-reaching or making obvious attempts to steer the listener’s emotions, the story unfolded clearly, with moments to absorb the high points, never dwelling in the low, and letting the writing shine.
Harrington has written a lovely introduction to this series with nuanced characters that are full of flaws, heart and humanity, in a story that keeps the listener engaged and smiling at the end.
Stars: Overall 4 Narration 4 Story 4
Title: If the Duke Demands
Author: Anna Harrington
Series: Capturing the Carlisles #1
Genre: Historical Romance, Regency, Setting: Britain
Narrator: Justine Eyre
Published by: Forever, Hachette Audio
Published on: 28 February 2017
Source: Hachette Audio
Audio Length: 9 Hours: 59 minutes
Heat: Get Your Copy: Amazon ♦ Barnes&Noble ♦ iTunes ♦ Kobo ♦ Downpour ♦ IndieBound ♦ Book Depository ♦ Google ♦Audible ♦Direct from Publisher
A LESSON IN SEDUCTION . . .
Miranda Hodgkins has only ever wanted one thing: to marry Robert Carlisle. And she simply can't wait a moment longer. During the Carlisle family masquerade ball, Miranda boldly sneaks into his bedchamber with seduction on her mind. Soon she's swept into rock-hard arms for the most breathtaking kiss of her life. But when the masks come off, she's horrified to find herself face-to-face with Sebastian, the Duke of Trent—Robert's formidable older brother.
Shocked to find Miranda in his bed, Sebastian quickly offers her a deal to avoid scandal: He'll help her win his brother's heart if she'll find him the perfect wife. But what begins as a simple negotiation soon spirals out of control. For the longer this reformed rake tries to make a match for Miranda, the more he wants to keep her all to himself.
A copy of this title was provided via Hachette Audio for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.