He’s controlled. Meticulous. Immaculate. No one would expect the proper Duke of Westmead to be a member of London’s most illicit secret club. Least of all: his future wife.
Having overcome financial ruin and redeemed his family name to become the most legendary investor in London, the Duke of Westmead needs to secure his holdings by producing an heir. Which means he must find a wife who won’t discover his secret craving to spend his nights on his knees – or make demands on his long scarred-over heart.
Poppy Cavendish is not that type of woman. An ambitious self-taught botanist designing the garden ballroom in which Westmead plans to woo a bride, Poppy has struggled against convention all her life to secure her hard-won independence. She wants the capital to expand her exotic nursery business – not a husband.
But there is something so compelling about Westmead, with his starchy bearing and impossibly kind eyes — that when an accidental scandal makes marriage to the duke the only means to save her nursery, Poppy worries she wants more than the title he is offering. The arrangement is meant to be just business. A greenhouse for an heir. But Poppy yearns to unravel her husband’s secrets – and to tempt the duke to risk his heart.
As a lifelong reader of historical romance, I grew up on a steady diet of dukes.
Rakish dukes who ruled the ton with a sneer, a mistress on each arm. Brooding dukes who stalked about their lavish manors, exuding chilly hauteur and a horror of love. Warlord dukes who crashed through the moors on horseback, seizing land and women.
This is only a very small amuse bouche from the all-you-can eat buffet of dukes I have known. The dukes vary in their particulars. There is a hard-hearted alphahole duke for every swoony cinnamon roll duke. But in this vast cornucopia of dukes, there is usually one commonality: the dukes have a great deal of power. (After all: they are dukes.)
The billionaires of the historical genre, romance dukes have swag . They have BDE. No matter how kind they are, how melting of heart, they have that air of authority that comes from owning a fleet of houses the size of cruise ships, being appointed by birth to make laws, controlling the livelihood of thousands, and insisting everyone call you “Your Grace”.
But don’t they ever get tired of it?
Personally, I would hate to be a duke.
I’m a perfectionist. When I have even minimal power over lives other than my own – direct reports at work, children in my care – this obbsessiveness becomes unmanageable. It stresses me out.
Inside every character is a kernel of its author’s soul, and the truest piece of myself that I gave the hero of The Duke I Tempted is a discomfort with power.
The Duke of Westmead hates being a duke. Not because he is lazy, but because he is too hardworking. He feels every life that hangs in the balance of his power, and wants to do right by his unnatural privilege. But that duty wears on him.
And then he meets a woman who craves the very thing he has in such over-abundance: power.
Poppy Cavendish, the heroine of The Duke I Tempted, would kill for a fraction of the power that a duke has – or any man, for that matter. She would be perfect at swanning around a dukedom, calling the shots, seeing to every detail.
But she can’t. She can’t even be the master of her own destiny.
A botanist who has been tossed around with the fortunes of men her whole life, all she wants is the basic financial and civic independence she needs to make her nursery business thrive. But because she is a woman, her options for self-determination are limited.
In historical romance we often get the same power dynamic over and over because it is hard to flip the essential script in an era when women, if they married, lost what minimal rights they possessed.
But comfort with power is personal, not gendered. And every successful marriage must find its own balance, no matter what law or convention decrees.
This is the essential story of The Duke I Tempted: a woman who craves a powerful place in the world but is stymied by society is forced, through circumstances, to marry a man who has had unfathomable power assigned to him by nothing more than chance.
When power is so unevenly distributed, the outcome tends to be revolt.
But what if rebellion need not be the stuff of public revolution? What if it could happen in private, discreet rooms? What if its discovery could turn a troubled marriage of convenience into an unlikely union of passion? What if, through negotiation, it could be shared?
You will have to read The Duke I Tempted to find out.
Boxer Briefs or Commando
Binge or Live TV
Binge, unless it is any of The Real Housewives, in which case I would like to watch it RIGHT NOW.
Chest Hair or Not
Whatever makes you feel most devastating
Whips or Ropes
No part of me believes you have to pick one
Print or Ebook
Ebooks since you can carry your ever-growing TBR around in your phone! I only buy print books if they are pretty enough to double as décor in my home.
Superman, Aquaman, Black Panther, Wonder Woman, Captain American, Thor, or Iron Man
I have a personal rule against watching action movies so I must admit I haven’t seen any of these. But I’ll go with Iron Man because Robert Downey Jr is swoon bait.
Facebook or Twitter
Cruise or Spa
Neither. Confession: I am that rare, difficult human who doesn’t like boats OR massages.
Christmas or Birthday
Christmas all the way
Heels or Flats
Either as long as they are pretty
Talk or Text
Text me, honey
Action or Comedy
Comedy. See above re personal rule against watching action movies 😉
Thank you to Scarlett for joining us today!