The Duke of Dark Desires by Miranda Neville is an historical romance about a newly appointed Duke of Denford, Julian Fortesque. It takes place in the late 1700’s after the French Revolution. He is a distant relation to the former duke, but due to many unfortunate deaths and a line of succession that is male only, he is awarded this title and all that comes with it. His former life had been primarily filled with the acquisition of art, which he was passionate about. And while he still uses his spare time and resources for his former passion, he is still charged with the running of multiple dependents and households, as well as inserting himself into the ton at court. Among his newly acquired responsibilities is his three half-sisters whom his derelict mother has foisted upon him so she can travel with husband number three. So, as you would expect, he hires a governess. Jane Grey applies for, and is hired, to be said governess, but she has a hidden agenda. When the revolution was in full swing and the aristocracy was sacrificed to le guillotine, her entire family lost their heads. Betrayed over an art-deal, Jane has traced the guilty party to none other than Julian Fortesques’ relations, one in particular though he remains unidentified. She infiltrates the household to finally learn the identity of her families traitor and kill him with her own hands. She was fifteen when she lost everything and was forced into what amounted to prostitution to secure a home, food and clothing. Now she is on her own and will let nothing stop her. But what would happen if she began to fall for the Duke’s untoward advances? What if he turned out to be the guilty party?
This book is a good ‘oil bodice-ripper. I had not read the previous books in the series but that did not affect my enjoyment of this book. Jane is beautiful, curvaceous and intelligent and the Duke is handsome, worldly and incredibly sensual. Seeing the foreplay between these two is definitely a guilty pleasure. They do an artful dance, with Jane leaving the Duke wanting more…until she doesn’t. She helps him become a true aristocrat in the best way, guiding him in pulling together his household and caring for his sisters. He is completely independent initially, but begins to care for and eventually love his siblings in a way that even their mother does not, showing them love and attention, being there for them, in small and big ways. He is both brother and father figure. The traitor is a surprise and a relief, and the ending is more than satisfying. This is a great beach or ski read, not too heavy with likable characters and plenty of chemistry. I thoroughly enjoyed it.