My rating: 2 of 5 stars
This was only my first read by Ms. Marvelle and I'm sorry to say it was a great disappointment. The premise was interesting, but I just couldn't get into the story or connect with the characters.
Desperate to have her father released from prison, where he's been thrown for publishing his observations on innate buggery in the Animal Kingdom and stating that homosexuality is allowed by God and therefore shouldn't be condemned, Lady Justine Palmer approaches his father's academic patron, the notorious Duke of Bradford (better known to the ton as The Rake Extraordinaire) and offers herself up to him in exchange for his help releasing her father. Braced for surrendering her virginity to a man who (seemingly) presents no wedding prospect, she's shocked when he refuses her offer and proposes marriage instead.
Unbeknownst to Justine, Radcliff Morton, the Duke of Bradford, is as desperate as her. Consumed by his addiction to sex, he's been in seclusion for the last eight months in an effort to reform himself. Convinced that Justine is his last hope of salvation, Radcliff does his best to control the sexual urges that torment his body, knowing that he needs to become a better man for their marriage to work.
That was the basic premise of this book, but there were so many other subjects crammed into the story that it lost its focus. Besides his sex addiction, Radcliff and Justine also had to deal with his "mommy issues", his villainous brother Carlton, his brother's abused mistress Matilda, a gay servant, and other minor problems. It was too much, and I just couldn't make myself care for any of them.
Radcliff had the potential to be a great tortured hero, but his character fizzled. He was described as being a sex addict, but I never saw him acting as one. I was told over and over again that he was a sex addict, but he was one of the most self-controlled heroes I've ever seen.
As for Justine, she was a pain. Assuming that Radcliff was indeed a sex addict, I thought she was very insensitive about it and did nothing to help him. I don't know why he put up with her incongruous demands and let her steamroll him, because he got nothing out of it. Not even sex! Their relationship was so unbalanced and unhealthy that I found myself dreading the HEA. Radcliff and Justine did not belong together!
As I mentioned above, this was my one and only read by Ms. Marvelle so far. I usually give new-to-me authors three chances to win me, and this one has been wasted. I have the next two books in this series on my TBR so I'll be reading them soon. I hope they're better than this one. *keeps fingers crossed*
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