Mon
Aug 7 2017 9:30am

First Look: Alyson Chase’s Disciplined by the Duke (August 15, 2017)

Disciplined by the Duke by Alyson Chase

Alyson Chase
Disciplined by the Duke (Lords of Discipline #1)
Swerve / August 15, 2017 / $3.99 digital

A servant. A liar. A thief. A submissive. The heroine of Alyson Chase’s sexy new Regency romance is all of these things, and more. When her sister is thrown in jail and sentenced to death, gentlewoman Elizabeth Wilcox’s only hope of saving her from the noose is to strike a deal with the odious Earl of Westmore. Her assignment? Go undercover as a maid to spy on the Duke of Montague, a notorious rake with a taste for unconventional bed sport. Disciplined by the Duke is the first installment in Chase’s Lords of Discipline series. Trigger warning—there is attempted sexual coercion by the villain, as well as a mention of past sexual abuse suffered by a secondary character.

The opening scene, when the villain is giving Elizabeth her assignment as a spy, was one of the most difficult to read in the whole book. I had a real fear that Elizabeth was going to give in to the Earl’s coercion and allow him to “take liberties” that would clearly have had devastating consequences to her emotional and mental well-being. Obviously, that doesn’t happen, or Elizabeth would never meet Marcus (the Duke), but Chase does an excellent job of creating a tense, believable opening that establishes what is at stake for our heroine.

I’m sure this excerpt will leave you as thoroughly grossed out by the Earl as I was!

They stood in silence, his moist breath slithering across her ear. It was a power play, an attempt to intimidate, but fear of this man no longer motivated Liz.

“I spoke with your sister’s judge just yesterday,” he said. “Even with the money I pay him he is becoming most anxious over the respite he’s given to your sister’s sentencing. His fellow judges can’t understand why a convicted murderess hasn’t hanged yet.”

A cold fist gripped her heart, and squeezed. Only sheer force of will kept her upright. “When you found me in the courthouse after . . .”

“After your vicious bitch of a sister had been convicted.” He stepped closer, the front of his falls brushing her hip.

She swallowed down bile. “Yes, after the conviction. You promised you would help her.”

“For a price, Miss Wilcox. Never forget that. Everything comes with a price.”

When Elizabeth arrives at the Duke of Montague’s home, their relationship develops at a believable pace as they are thrown together time and again by circumstances. I loved the way Marcus saw through Elizabeth’s mild servant persona to the spirited woman underneath. Rather than being annoyed by it, he was intrigued and went out of his way to protect her as much as he could without singling her out.

Todd’s last remark must have been particularly irritating to his new maid. Her chin tipped up and the delicate skin around her eyes tensed. In a flash, it was gone, her face as serene as ever. He had to admire her acting. Most men would only see a subservient woman with a sweet smile.

But that outward tranquility only told half the story.

He’d been watching her since he’d discovered her in his library. She’d amused him, the little maid who’d felt the need to hide her reading habit. And he was a man rarely amused. He’d watched how she interacted with his other servants, seen her bite her tongue when lectured to by his steward. Just the slightest clenching of her jaw. Nothing overtly noticeable.

Strong willed yet restrained.

Both Elizabeth and Marcus privately acknowledge their interest in the other, but the Duke displays his honorable nature and respect for a woman he thinks is his maid by resisting the urge to make his attraction known to her. He is also aware of the ways in which their class differences would play into any relationship or sexual interaction between them. He has been free to indulge in his passion for bondage and accept that part of himself, while Elizabeth (or Miss Smith, as he knows her) would have no frame of reference for his sexual preferences.

To put it in more modern terms, the Duke of Montague is an extremely woke bae.

If she were his to play with. Which she wasn’t. And that was a pity, for she fascinated him. Dangerous currents ran beneath her calm façade. Currents he’d love to explore.

Because he was also trained to peel away a woman’s control. To give her just enough pain and pleasure to make her drop her defenses. To crash through the walls a woman could build.

Miss Smith’s true self was buried beneath layers of training and societal expectations. It could take months of excruciating pleasure before he fully revealed the complete woman.

But she was his maid. He couldn’t take her as he wanted.

That didn’t stop him from fantasizing.

Of stripping her bare of her drab uniform. Using that white apron’s long strings to tie her hands behind her back. Bending her over the back of the settee in the library.

Making her beg. Making her scream.

Until she lost control. Only for him.

Alyson Chase’s Duke of Discipline is a well-plotted, well-researched Regency romp that I enjoyed thoroughly. It’s a steamy read, especially for a historical, but it doesn’t quite edge over the line into erotica. I will definitely be adding this author to my auto-buy list!

***

Learn more about or pre-order a copy of Disciplined by the Duke by Alyson Chase, available August 15, 2017:

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Nicola R. White, blogger.

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