Saturday, September 1, 2012

When You Give a Duke a Diamond by Shana Galen

He had a perfectly orderly life...

William, the sixth Duke of Pelham, enjoys his punctual, securely structured life. Orderly and predictable—that's the way he likes it. But he's in the public eye, and the scandal sheets will make up anything to sell papers. When the gossip papers link him to Juliette, one of the most beautiful and celebrated courtesans in London, chaos doesn't begin to describe what happens next...

Until she came along...

Juliette is nicknamed the Duchess of Dalliance and has the cream of the nobility at her beck and call. It's disruptive to have the duke who is the biggest catch on the Marriage Mart scaring her other suitors away. Then she discovers William's darkest secret and decides what he needs in his life is the kind of excitement only she can provide..

William, the Duke of Pelham, likes punctuality and order—a whole lot of both. He rarely eats a minute late, maintains an impeccable home, and is content to live the stuffy life that his father taught him is the duty of a duke.  He is engaged to marry a respectable woman, Eliza, as more of a business deal than a true romantic match. But, the ton will talk and William is linked to a famous courtesan, the Duchess of Dalliance.  She is, of course, gorgeous and glittery, just like her two other courtesan friends, The Countess of Charm and The Marchioness of Mystery.
The Duchess, whose real name is Juliette, attends a party for the Prince Regent and sees Willam and his fiancĂ©e, Eliza.  She seeks to mitigate the damage of the false newspaper story, but William is not at all amenable to speaking to her.  As Juliette tries to recover her pride, she sees Eliza injured at the hand of a famous gambling hell owner, laughably called Lucifer.
Eliza’s body cannot be found, and William takes Juliette under his wing in order to protect her from Lucifer.  Of course, “under his wing” is code for “she is a beautiful courtesan and he ends up bedding her.”  The relationship that develops between William and Juliette is one that causes him to decide that maybe his regimented way of life is not the way to go.  She becomes the only one who can convince him that he is allowed to laugh, be loose, and have fun—even as a duke.  The problem that remains, however, is that a duke cannot marry a courtesan.  It is not proper, of course.   Juliette knows this, but she cannot resist the feelings that she has for William.
 I never felt as thought Juliette was in any real danger from Lucifer.  She was under the protection of the duke, after all, and Lucifer despite some menacing overtures, does not do much.  There is another villain in the book as well, who shows up later, but for reasons that I am not sure I understand.  In any case, I did not buy this storyline. 
As in most romance novels, there is an inevitable misunderstanding.  It is clear from the beginning of the book that Juliette is not much of a courtesan.  There is no man that appears that claims to have had a dalliance with her, though rumors abound.  So, William is under the impression that she has had many lovers (and is having a sort of four way relationship with her patron, the Earl of Sinclair, and two other courtesans).  The resolution of this misunderstanding allows for the happily-ever-after ending that romance readers want.
 I liked both William and Juliette and reading about the development of their relationship.   I wanted Juliette to be a little more complex and the romance to be more complicated.  Though William changes quite a bit, Juliette does not.  That must explain why I liked him more than I liked her. 
 I am sure that there will be more novels that are related to this one, based upon the other two courtesans.  Both of them, like Juliette, are other-wordly beautiful and, according to romance rules, should have no trouble at all finding mates.  I just hope that the obstacles in the way of true romance are stronger than they were in this book.  . 
Overall, When You Give a Duke a Diamond was a fun, light read and I recommend it for those times you want to get swept away into another world.
*I recieved a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.  Regina

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