Author: Jess Michaels
Release Date: 2 July 2013
Series: Book #1 in the Pleasure Wars series
Number of pages: 216 pages
Publisher: Samhain Publishing
Source: eARC received from the author
Purchasing Info: Goodreads, Author's Website, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, Samhain, Read an excerpt
Grade: 4.5 stars
Goodreads appetizer: An eye for an eye, a sin for a sin…
Amid all the lies and scandals that fuel Society’s gossip mill, one truth has stood out: House Rothcastle and House Windbury have always hated each other.
Lady Ava Windbury prays the feud will someday end, to no avail. One dreadful night, her brother accidentally causes the death of Christian Rothcastle’s sister, a tragedy that leaves both men maimed.
Consumed by grief, Christian makes a grim decision. He will kidnap Lady Ava so that her family will feel the pain of loss as keenly as he feels the loss of his own sister. But once he has Ava in his clutches, desire takes unexpected hold. Even more surprising, she willingly surrenders to his every sexual whim—after haggling over the terms of giving up her virginity.
Too late, he realizes she is using her body for peace, not war. But just as their affair of revenges turns into an affair of the heart, the past rears its ugly head to take matters into its own hands…
Product Warnings: This book contains scenes of erotic seduction, sexual revenge and the healing power of love.
My Thoughts: Ever since I discovered Jess Michaels' writing I know that if I'm in the mood for some seriously scorching historical romance she is the person to go to. Her novels are sinfully delicious, addictive and oh so steamy! ;-) And it was just the same with her latest release Taken by the Duke, which is the first book in her brand new series, the Pleasure Wars series.
Taken by the Duke is a sensual Regency Romeo and Juliet retelling: the Rothcastles and Windburys have been feuding for so long they can't even remember what caused their rift. One fateful night the fighting between Lord Rothcastle and Lord Windbury results in a dreadful accident, which causes the death of Lady Matilda Rothcastle, beloved sister of one and lover of the other. That night changes both men. The grief, guilt and hatred festers until Christian Rothcastle devises the perfect revenge: he'll kidnap Lady Ava Windbury, sister of his arch-nemesis, will ruin and then discard her, bringing shame and scorn on the Windbury family.
However, he did not count on the beauty and gentle goodness of Lady Ava. No matter how hostile and rude he is towards her she is humble and kind, not wanting the perpetuate the constant battle and hate between the families. She is ready to sacrifice her virtue and reputation to gain peace and reconciliation between the Rothcastles and Windburys.
And yet the result he likely hoped for was not coming to fruition. She felt no desire to distance herself. In fact, the more he spat at her like a feral barn cat, the more she felt driven to find out what she could about him. To make him see her, and by proxy her brother, as human.
Perhaps if he delved deeply enough into her body, into her heart, he could take some of her power with him when they parted. A final gift from a woman who used his attempts to make her into a weapon of war, and instead embarked on a mission of peace.
Ava is not what Christian expected. She doesn't cry or beg but accepts her fate with calm and resignation. Despite her vulnerable state of having been kidnapped and kept captive, as well as being "only" a woman in a men's war Ava had some awe-inspiring inner strength and her gentleness and compassion did not mean she didn't possess a spine of steel. She was a strong woman using kindness as her shield against the world and its ugliness.
He stared, still mesmerized as ever by the beauty of her form. She was so lithe and lovely, so graceful and yet so strong in her spirit. He had thought he could break her when he took her. Now he knew she would never be broken. And he envied her for that inner strength. For her confidence that she controlled her own happiness and refused to turn it over to any other person.
Christian is astonished and flummoxed by Ava and her every reaction, which simply defies every expectation or rule, and soon he finds himself unable to resist her. He wants her not because of his evil plans but because he wants to get close to her and enjoy her light and warmth while she is still there with him. It was moving to see how such a wisp of a woman thawed this hardened man, who has spent the past couple of years hating all the Windburys and what they stood for.
“I brought you here for revenge,” he said, his voice very soft. “I could think of nothing else when I took you. But now… I wonder if we could spend the rest of our time together, not in a bargain, not in a war, but just as lovers who want to share a brief moment in time.”
Jess Michaels gave us some great and vivid characters, Ava, Christian and Liam (Lord Windbury, and I hope the hero of the next novel in the series) were interesting characters the reader could sympathize with and root for, and the passion between Ava and Christian was hot, sensual, sweeping the reader along with the drift of the story. Besides the passion Jess Michaels also gave us some heart-wrenching emotions: reading about the men's suffering and guilt was both moving and heart-breaking.
Verdict: Taken by the Duke is a captivating sensual Regency Romeo and Juliet historical romance I gobbled up in mere hours, it was a gripping and entertaining story and I can't wait to read the next books in the series! :-D
Review originally published at Book Lovers Inc.