Falling Into Bed with a Duke (The Hellions of Havisham #1)
by Lorraine Heath
In the first in a dazzling new series, New York Times bestselling author Lorraine Heath introduces the Hellions of Havisham-three charismatic rogues destined to lose their hearts…
After six unsuccessful Seasons, Miss Minerva Dodger chooses spinsterhood over fortune-hungry suitors. But thanks to the Nightingale Club, she can at least enjoy one night of pleasure. At that notorious establishment, ladies don masks before choosing a lover. The sinfully handsome Duke of Ashebury is more than willing to satisfy the secretive lady’s desires-and draws Minerva into an exquisite, increasingly intimate affair.
A man of remarkable talents, Ashe soon deduces that his bedmate is the unconventional Miss Dodger. Intrigued by her wit and daring, he sets out to woo her in earnest. Yet Minerva refuses to trust him. How to court a woman he has already thoroughly seduced? And how to prove that the passion unleashed in darkness is only the beginning of a lifetime’s pleasure…?
The flirtation that occurred within these walls was very different from that found in a ballroom. No one here was searching for a dance partner. Rather, they wanted a bedding partner. He appreciated the honesty on display, which was the reason that he often stopped by when he was in London. No pretense, no ruses, no duplicity.
He had already claimed a bedchamber, the key nestled in his jacket pocket, as he wanted no one to disturb what he had so painstakingly set up. His needs were unique, and he knew that within these walls, they would be kept secret. People did not discuss what occurred at the Nightingale Club. For most of London, its existence was something spoken about in longing whispers by those who knew it only as myth. But for those familiar with it, it served as a sanctuary, liberator, confidant. It was whatever one needed it to be.
For him, it was salvation, bringing him back from the brink of darkness. Twenty years had gone by since his parents’ deaths, yet still he dreamed of mangled and charred remains. Still, he heard his mother’s terrorized screams and his father’s fruitless cries. Still, his behavior when he’d last seen them taunted him. Had he known that he’d never look upon them again—
With resolve, he shook off the haunting musings that sent a chill down his spine. Here, he could forget, at least for a few hours. Here, the regrets didn’t gnaw unmercifully at him. Here, he could become lost striving for perfection, for the ultimate in pleasure.
He had merely to determine which lady would best suit his purposes, which would be willing to concede to his unusual request without protest. It bothered him not at all that the ladies wore domino masks. He cared little for their faces, understood their need for anonymity. Their concealment worked to his advantage as he’d discovered that ladies were more comfortable with his request when they were assured it would remain their secret—and his not knowing their identity made them bolder than they might have been otherwise. They liked being a little naughty as long as they weren’t caught. He couldn’t catch them if he didn’t know who they were.
Still, he had one cardinal rule he always observed: never the same lady twice.
The ladies brought their own masks, seldom changed them, as the façade became their calling cards, as effective at identifying them as the ones handed over to butlers in the early afternoon when they were making proper visits. The woman in the black mask decorated with peacock feathers had a scar just above her left knee from a tumble she’d taken from a pony as a child. The blue mask, black feathers had two delightful dimples in the small of her back. The green mask outlined in yellow lace possessed bony hips that had proven a challenge, but he’d been pleased with the results when their time together was finished. But then he’d always embraced the challenge of discovering the perfection in imperfection.
The three glasses of scotch that he’d enjoyed were thrumming through his veins. The din of intimacy was calming. The muscles that had been so tense earlier were relaxed. He was in his element here, or he would be in short order. As soon as he found that for which he was searching. He wouldn’t settle for less than what he wanted; he never did. If one sure thing could be said about the Duke of Ashebury, it was that he knew his own mind. That he was stubborn when it came to acquiring what he needed—or wanted. Tonight’s endeavors straddled the line of both what he needed and what he wanted. All needs would be met before dawn. Then, perhaps, he could be glad to be back in London.
Lifting his glass for another sip, he watched a woman wearing draping white silk and a white mask with short white feathers walk hesitantly into the room as though she expected the floor to drop out from beneath her at any moment. She wasn’t particularly tall, but based on the way the silk moved over her flesh with each graceful step, it was obvious that she possessed long, slender legs. He wondered if she was meeting someone, already had an arranged assignation. Some ladies did—it was one of the reasons that the men didn’t wear masks. So they were easily identifiable if their paramours wanted to meet them here. Another reason was that men simply didn’t bloody well care if anyone knew that they were in the mood for a good tupping. Even the married ones were brazen with their presence.
The woman in white appeared to have dark hair, gathered up in an elaborate style that no doubt required an abundance of pins. He couldn’t be absolutely certain of the exact shade because the lighting in the room—only flickering candles—enhanced the mood of secrecy as well as creating an ambiance for intimacy while providing a gossamer disguise for some distinguishing characteristics that were easily identifiable by color: hair, eyes, even the fairness of skin. Perhaps she moved slowly because her eyes were adjusting to the dimness. Gentlemen not yet spoken for did not swarm to her side. But then that was the rule here. Seduction happened slowly. Ladies needed to hint at an interest.
But then, if this was her first time, she might not be aware of the subtle rules. He was fairly certain he’d never seen her before. A connoisseur of the body, he would have remembered the elegance of her movements, the way the cloth glided over her skin, outlining her form. Slender legs, but meat where it counted. No bony hips there.
With one long swallow, he finished off his scotch, relishing the realization that the hunt was over. He’d thought he wanted a tall woman. He’d been mistaken.
He wanted her.
Being fairly new to the historical romance genre I'm still enjoying the chance to discover new to me authors such as Lorraine Heath. While I hadn't read anything from her in the past I've heard great things so I was excited to dive into a copy of Falling Into Bed with a Duke. That being said, while I enjoyed the writing style of this one the book ended up just being okay for me.
Tired of men only wanting to marry her for her dowry, Minerva decides to visit the Nightingale Club where she can enjoy a night of passion before resigning to her life of spinsterhood. With a mask covering the majority of her face, she visits the Nightingale Club and is surprised when she catches the eye of Ashe, a man that she's always wanted but has never had any interest in her.
When their night doesn't exactly turn out the way either of them expected, Ashe is determine to figure out the identity of "Lady V" and Minerva is determined to keep her identity a secret for as long as possible. Unfortunately that's where I had trouble with this one. Going in I knew there was going to be some secrecy involved but I didn't expect it to last as long as it did. I figured they'd have their night of passion, Ashe would figure out her identity and start the wooing... But that's not how it happened at all.
While I did enjoy watching Ashe get to know Minerva outside of the club and trying to figure out if she was Lady V, I didn't enjoy being in Minerva's head when she had to sit back and watch him flirt with other women. I started reading historical romance to get away from the overly used angst plots of new adult and contemporary romances and I really wasn't expecting to encounter that in this one.
Along with the secrecy on Minerva's side, Ashe finds out that he's having financial trouble and I'm sure you can guess what his solution is... Am I right?! Well then you can probably guess how that plays out and quite honestly it just didn't work for me. Granted, Ashe did man up and realize his mistakes but I was just hoping for a little more.
Overall, this was a good read and I did enjoy the characters, I was just expecting something a little different going in which left me a little disappointed in the end. That being said, I really enjoy Lorraine Heath's writing style and will definitely be checking out other books from her in the future.
LORRAINE HEATH always dreamed of being a writer. After graduating from the University of Texas, she wrote training manuals and computer code, but something was always missing. After reading a romance novel, she not only became hooked on the genre, but quickly realized what her writing lacked: rebels, scoundrels, and rogues. She’s been writing about them ever since. Her work has been recognized with numerous industry awards, including RWA’s RITA® and a Romantic Times Career Achievement Award. Her novels have appeared on the USA Today and New York Times best-seller lists.
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Disclosure: I was provided with an ARC of Falling Into Bed with a Duke in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.