Love and friendship
If you've read my reviews you know I like connected romances, particularly about brothers. Fortunately for me, Lorraine Heath has a new triology; The Lost Lords of Pembrook. First up is She Tempts the Duke, the love story of two childhood friends separated by time and circumstance who find each other again.
At the age of fourteen Sebastian Easton, the eighth Duke of Keswick, learns that he may not make fifteen. The future looks pretty bleak. His father has "accidentally" died making him duke. His uncle has put him, along with his twin brother Tristian and his 10 year old brother Rafe, in the tower. They are all alone in the world, awaiting the fatal "accident" their uncle has planned. Fortunately, Sebastian's childhood friend, Lady Mary Wynne-Jones,stole the key to let them out. The three brothers escape, but leave Mary behind, who ends up being put in a nunnery by her father. It takes twelve years of heartache and pain before the three lords are able to reclaim their heritage.
Twelve years later, Lady Mary is out of the nunnery and engaged and in London at a ball given by Lord & Lady Easton, the scheming uncle. Lord Easton is using the ball to reinforce his claim to the title. He has petitioned the Court of Chancery to award him the title, since his nephews cannot be found. Lady Mary has always wondered what happened to the lost lords of Pembrook. She doesn't want an injustice to happen but knows no one would believe her story. The ball livens up when all hear the following announcements: "His Grace, the Duke of Keswick!", "Lord Tristian Easton!", and "Lord Rafe Easton!". Mary recognizes the well-dressed, rough looking lords, despite Sebastian's misshapen face and eye patch. They are now the talk of the ton.
Their reappearance awakens Mary and Sebastian's past friendship and leads to a growing connection, despite the fact that Mary is engaged to Viscount Fitzwilliam. It's as if they can't help themselves. Although the years have separated them and they don't know each other very well, they still have that deep childhood friendship and a growing attraction between them. As Mary helps the three brothers reintegrate into society in order to further secure their claim, she and Sebastian grow closer. They even kiss. This continual involvement with the brothers interferes with her engagement and alters the courses of their lives. Though they grow closer, Sebastian's obsession with his uncle and reclaiming Pembrook, the ducal estate, do not make that process easy.
Even though their relationship starts out as a have to situation, I enjoyed watching Mary and Sebastian renew their friendship, fall in love, and defeat his uncle. These characters were made for each other. Sebastian learns that he has always loved Mary and she was the reason for him surviving the war and his terrible injuries. Mary helps him to accept himself and his injuries and to forgive himself for the tough choices he made concerning his brothers and having to leave them behind. And Mary has not only regained her best friend, but discovered a man who passionately loves her as well.
I look forward to both Tristian and Rafe finding love just like their older brother. From her web site it looks like book 2, Lord of Temptation, is coming out in October, 2012.