What the Duke Desires
Pocket / June 18, 2013 / $7.99 print, $6.64 digital
Maximilian Cale, the Duke of Lyons, long ago buried his grief for his missing elder brother, Peter, who was presumed dead after being kidnapped. When a mysterious note arrives from Tristan Bonnaud asserting that the Duke's brother is alive, it leads Max straight to the winsome Lisette Bonnaud, illegitimate daughter of a viscount and Tristan's sister. Soon he and Lisette are traveling to Paris posing as husband and wife, in search of Tristan, who has disappeared. And the longer he spends with Lisette, the easier it is for Max to see that the line between dukedom and desire is easier to cross than he imagined.
What the Duke Desires is the first book in Sabrina Jeffries's new The Duke’s Men series, and although the title indicates that we should be more interested in the duke, this story is much more fascinating in following what Lisette desires.
Since she was a young girl, Lisette has understood that men cannot be counted on. Lisette’s mother was a former French actress and the faithful mistress of the Viscount Rathmoor, and she has borne two children to him, Tristan and Lisette. The viscount has been good to all of his children, legitimate or otherwise. After his wife’s death, he had been promised Lisette’s mother for years that they would wed, but he never accomplished that task and when he is killed in a hunting accident, his procrastination in all things leaves his Estate fully in the hands of his oldest son, George, making no provision for either his youngest son, Dom, or his mistress and their children. Because of this, the selfish and vindictive George has them all thrown off the property before the night is out.
It is bitterness over her father’s callous behavior to their future that sets Lisette on her path. Lisette knows that a woman is financially at the mercy of a man—either her father, or her husband—and she is determined that she will find a way to earn her own money and never be forced to submit to the will of any man, either to be forced into a marriage or to become some man’s mistress.
That was the trouble with relying on a man to save you. Men were unreliable. Papa…George…Even Tristan had made matters worse with his anger. Of the important men in her life, only one had always done the right thing—and as much as Dom wanted to help, even he could do little more than pack them off to France.
Maman had been wrong to place her faith in Papa. All it had gained her was grief for her and her children.
Lisette dashed away fresh tears. Well, she would never be so foolish. First chance she got, she would make her own way in this world, no matter what it took. She wasn’t going through this kind of betrayal ever again.
Years later, when Lisette returns to England she is determined to join her brother’s Dom firm, Manton’s Investigations, and be one of his “men.” She has been working with Eugène Vidocq, the former head of the French Secret Police at the Sûreté Nationale. Even though Vidocq was willing to hire woman as agents, she still has to convince her two overprotective brothers that she is more than ready to handle an investigation on her own.
And she’d always wanted to be an agent for Vidocq, to pretend to be someone else while travelling to exotic places and infiltrating the highest and lowest levels of society. To be a spy. It sounded very exciting.
After Dom heads to Scotland on an assignment, Lysette is left to handle the office alone when Maximilian Cale, Duke of Lyons, shows up pounding on her front door, demanding to know where to find Tristan. The duke believes Tristan is trying to swindle him with false notification that he's found Max’s older brother, a brother who was kidnapped as a child and who was believed to be dead. With the duke declaring that he will have Tristan arrested for fraud, Lisette knows this is her chance to investigate the case, to find her brother and learn the truth behind the duke’s mysterious missing brother.
Men like Lofty Lyons were more trouble than they were worth. And she didn’t need that kind of trouble. She was finally making inroads with Dom; one day soon he might actually let her investigate a case, or at least do some of the important parts.
That was what she’d dreamed of all these years—of being in control of her own life, being able to pull her own weight instead of having to depend on feckless men. Taking up with a duke would not help her plans.
So she had to keep a distance between herself and Lyons. She had to ignore his compliments and the absurd attraction she felt for the man. This was a matter of saving Tristan’s future. That was all.
If she can convince the duke to take her to France to find Tristan, she will finally be able to prove her worth as an investigator and know that she will never be forced to rely upon generosity of a man for survival. Once Lisette has control of her life, she may finally be able to loosen the control over her heart.
Learn more about or order a copy of What the Duke Desires by Sabrina Jeffries, out June 18, 2013:
Lucy Dosch writes book reviews for her blog http://ebookobsessed.com. Her e-reader has turned her love of reading into an obsession. When she is not reading, she likes to spend time with her husband and two daughters.