The Duke Next Door by Celeste Bradley

Setting: 1815, Regency


The dangerously beautiful Deirdre Cantor is determined to inherit her grandfather’s vast fortune. All she needs is to marry a duke…and be the first granddaughter to walk down the aisle. After all, she has always dreamed of becoming a member of the haute ton. So when the proper Calder Marbrook, the Marquis of Brookhaven and future Duke of Brookmoor, is abandoned at the altar, Deirdre makes it her business to become his wife—in spite of the whispers about his past.

Soon Deirdre’s visions of a lavish existence with the handsome Calder are shattered when she learns his shocking secret. Feeling betrayed, Deirdre seeks revenge by playing a perilous and seductive game of cat and mouse with her husband that threatens to drive them both to the heights of passion. She will not surrender to him, no matter how great her desire. But at what cost?  Calder is determined to keep his secret under lock and key—and to make his stunning wife his in every way that matters. Even if it means winning her heart all over again…

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This is the second book in The Heiress Brides series. After being disappointed by the first book in the series, I really hope this one would prove to be much better. It had one thing going for it and that was the hero, who was jilted in the first book, and who I found to be an interesting, complex character with very Darcy-like qualities. I did end up liking the book a lot better than the first one, though it still wasn’t brilliant like her Runaway Brides series.

I think what made this book was Calder, the aloof, brooding hero. I’m a sucker for the distant hero who is eventually won over by the love of the right woman and Calder didn’t disappoint. I loved seeing his icy demeanour break down. At the beginning of the book, the gossips call him the Beast of Brookhaven, after two women leave him and this made me like him even more and made me want to see him end up happily ever after.

I can’t say the same for the heroine though. She was, for me, the major flaw in the book. Deirdre was spoiled, selfish and I just couldn’t warm to her even when her softer side was shown. I didn’t feel she was the right match for Calder who needed someone with more life, a more Elizabeth Bennet type heroine.

Celeste Bradley’s writing as usual was funny and smart even if the plot wasn’t particularly hooking. The tension between the two at the start of the book was electric and it was what kept me reading the book. But after the middle of the book, the story started to drag, and I soon found myself longing for the ending. There were villains in the book which I felt the book could have done without.

The love scenes were admittedly well-written but very explicit-and I could never fully feel the emotional connection between the two.

Despite Celeste’s writing style and the sexy hero, there wasn’t much to like about this book. Read it if you haven’t got anything else to read, or if you love Darcy-ish heroes but I wouldn’t recommend it.

Sensuality Level: Hot (Detailed, explicit and long love scenes)

Verdict: Not recommended.

Rating: 2 and a half stars out of 5

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