Saturday, May 28, 2011

Review: Waking Up With the Duke

As much as I love Regency Romance novels, most of them have two things in common that I could really live without: A young innocent, virginal heroine... and a long, long wait for a sexual payoff. The first, I find unrelatable and get somewhat irritated that an insipid 19 year-old is the "woman" I'm supposed to rooting for. The second generally makes me impatient and frustrated.

It would be easy to say I was crazy about this book because it features a grown woman with a sexual history --and because we get to the action quickly. But it wouldn't do the book justice. There was even more to fall in love with.

Jayne is a loyal and loving wife to Walfort. Three years ago, her husband was in a carriage accident that left him paralyzed. She's been taking care of him ever since. In addition to the obvious hardship of his care, she also lost the baby she was carrying due to the stress of his near-death experience. And she has no chance to have another, since the accident robbed him of the ability to make love.

Walfort decides his wife deserves a baby, and he gets it in his head to ask his best friend Ainsley to get the job done. Ainsley is notorious rake and he still feels guilty that he escaped the carriage accident unscathed, when Walfort was so badly injured.  Jayne is appalled by the idea. Not only is she a woman utterly devoted to her husband, but she blames Ainsley for the accident and hates his guts. But Ainsley uses his exceptional charms to change her mind --and soon she is at his county estate for a month of, er, family planning.

Jayne is a really great lead. She is a good woman, who is struggling to deal with the terrible hand life has dealt her. And we see her slowly come alive under Ainsley's care. The romance is both sexy and quite lovely. The first half of the book flies by.

It's not hard to figure out there is only one way for our characters to have a happy ending. And as the inevitable happens, the book does lose a little bit of steam. It takes Jayne a little too long to come around. Yes, her misgivings are well-within character, but by this point, I'm ready to get back to all the romance and sex that was so great at the beginning. And, of course, we do get there.

At no time did I ever find fault with Jayne for falling in love with Ainsley. If anything, as the book progressed, I find her husband to be more and more of a slimy toad, unworthy of his wife. There's a lot of heartache and heartbreak on these pages, but it makes a happy ending so much sweeter when we get there.

This was a good one. 4 1/2 stars.

Waking Up With the Duke
by Lorraine Health
Release Date: June 28, 2011
Publisher: Avon

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