I'm glad that it took me a while to read this book. It allowed me to figure out if I enjoyed it or not which is a weird thing to say because it's normally pretty cut and dry with me.
So let's get the blurby thing over with.
Cindy Blurb: Soraya is a courtesan of high regard in 1825 London, a woman who is bought and paid for and whose latest protector is the Duke of Kylemore. What London does not know is that Soraya is an act that was brought about by necessity and now that she has set herself up financially well enough to care for her brother and sister, she is preparing her exit. Thus, Verity comes back to life and in the process, angers the Duke of Kylemore beyond what a human should ever feel.
The Duke of Kylemore, meanwhile, is far from likable and is quite taken with his possession. When Soraya up and disappears he puts all his power into finding and exacting revenge on her for daring to embarass him.
The Duke finds her, drags her away from her family, forces her to travel for days to an old cottage of his family's and then forces himself upon her as his vengence. (Okay, seriously, I'm not really sure what his vengence was supposed to do but I'll get to that) Slowly and without any great cause, these two share their pasts and somehow this absolves the Duke at the very least for his sins. They fall in love but hey, she's a courtesan and he's a Duke but they find a way.
Just trying to summarize this story is hard to do.
Let's be fair, I would have stopped reading this book long before they ever made it to the cottage because I found the Duke repulsive and Verity never seemed to fight him. Cause it was all inevitable. Ugh.
I continued reading the story to get to the muched talked about forced seduction/rape scene and well, it didn't really affect me. However, the heroine does everything she can to keep distance from the hero during the sex and this slowly erodes at the Duke's sanity. I think in the legal sense, in today's world, it is rape. No question. But then, it doesn't take into account what the hero and heroine are thinking.
Part of the reason the scene didn't feel upsetting was because Verity had days of thinking how the Duke was going to force her to have sex. It was inevitable. Over and over and over the reader hears how it's just going to happen and well, what can you do? I felt that Verity never tried to get away from Kylemore.
Get this, she asks someone in the Dukes' employ to help her escape because she has been taken against her will. The woman says how the Duke has saved her family and she can never go against him. Meanwhile, this woman knows the Duke is wrong. Then the H/H get to the cottage and again, Verity asks someone for help and gets the same answer. The Duke is a great man blah, blah, blah. By this point I had no idea who these people thought the Duke was but whatever.
Now this just didn't work for me. I was thinking that everyone in the book was off their friggin' rocker. I mean, you have a best friend right? Your best friend has been there through thick and thin and then one day they show up on your doorstep with a person in tow that you know is not there of their own free will. You think maybe you'd do something about it? Hell, take your friend to task? Okay, the guy was a Duke but I was just flat out annoyed. I could have understood if the people were afraid of him but to not go against him because he once did something nice? Not buying it.
So you have all these people saying the Duke is a great guy but we've been in his head and egads, this guy is missing a few screws! He believes himself to be above everything and well, he acts like he is a god. I was repulsed by this guy and even when he starts to become human, I'm still not sure I would want to be near him.
Needless to say, I was expecting some really great trauma from his childhood. Again, not so sure that he has any reason to be such an asshole. People have lived through far worse and managed to not become so offensive.
Still, at some point the story grabbed onto me. I do think that Verity was the saving grace of this story and yet, I didn't like that she wouldn't fight. She fought in her own way but it wasn't enough for my bloodthirsty self. And then the ending was over the top in the drama department.
Basically, I would read the next book by this author because I do like the flair for drama and the intensity of some of the scenes. I'm only hoping that maybe the characters in her next book have more honour and thus, more of my empathy.
I'm going with a C+. The beginning was maybe too drawn out and could have been cut down some. The heroine could have had more of a spine and the hero could have suffered more for what he did to her and the ending with the 'evil' was a bit much. A frustrating read for sure.