Saturday, April 21, 2012

The Duke's Perfect Wife by Jennifer Ashley

Book Description:
Lady Eleanor Ramsay is the only one who knows the truth about Hart Mackenzie. Once his fiancee, she is the sole woman to whom he could ever pour out his heart.

Hart has it all-a dukedom, wealth, power, influence, whatever he desires. Every woman wants him--his seductive skills are legendary. But Hart has sacrificed much to keep his brothers safe, first from their brutal father, and then from the world. He's also suffered loss--his wife, his infant son, and the woman he loved with all his heart though he realized it too late.

Now, Eleanor has reappeared on Hart's doorstep, with scandalous nude photographs of Hart taken long ago. Intrigued by the challenge in her blue eyes--and aroused by her charming, no-nonsense determination--Hart wonders if his young love has come to ruin him . . . or save him.

Fourth of the Mackenzie Brothers series, this is Hart's story and I loved it!   Hart is the eldest brother, inheriting the dukedom from his father, who was a cruel and ruthless monster who left his mark on all the sons.  Hart, as the eldest took on the burden of protecting the rest from their father's notorious temper - particularly Ian, who stars in the first book of the series, The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie (which is a great book!)  To make it simple, Hart has overseen and controlled the entire family for many years now and is incapable of giving up his autonomy over the family.  Yet, he secretly yearns for the relaxed and carefree life he once knew when he was in love and engaged to Eleanor Ramsay - the woman he loved who got away.

Now it has been ten years since Eleanor broke their engagement.  Hart is older, though still very handsome and delectable.  A widower and a rising star who means to become prime minister soon, he wants Eleanor back in his life as a wife.  He'd never stopped caring for her and he needs a hostess to help with his political aspirations as well.  Just as lively and effervescent as ever, she takes his breath away.  Despite the fact she is impoverished and barely making ends meet with her father in Edinburgh, she returns to London to help Hart.  Not with his political career, but because she believes he's being blackmailed.  As it turns out, someone is sending Eleanor photographs that were taken of Hart as a young man - in the nude.  She wants to help solve the mystery of who has them and she's intent on getting the rest of them back - twenty in all that were taken at the time by his former mistress.  The thought that Eleanor enjoyed looking at the pictures of him (no matter how irresistible) when they were taken by his mistress did strike me as strange though - I would have been insanely jealous!

The descriptions and imagery of these photographs are very sexy and - beautiful.  Quite droolworthy.  It's all very tasteful but incredibly sensual. The idea of the gorgeous, young and handsome Hart in his kilt with nothing else on - and then even less?  You get the idea...  Eleanor is so daring and original, she's up for anything and once things resume romantically, she decides to take more photos of Hart in the buff to update her growing collection.  Their photo sessions are loaded with eroticism.  He's such a ham!  I loved reading about how she and Hart become closer and closer - more and more like old times, though it's still not a given she will take him back.  They had once been lovers, anticipating their wedding day when they were engaged, but things went wrong and Eleanor broke it off, thanks to Hart's long time mistress who decided to let Eleanor in on a few secrets about Hart.  I enjoyed his flashbacks and what happened between them and the day she returned his ring.  It made me even more sympathetic towards Hart, who in the past books comes across as cold and aloof.  Entirely much too forbidding, but I love his type of hero, so my attitude was "bring it on!"  The bigger they are, the harder they fall.  This older Hart has passion and feeling, I really loved him and it was a very satisfying ending to see how his life turned around so unexpectedly giving him the chance to put in perspective what it takes to make one happy.

I loved Eleanor as well and thought she was great for him.  Though as the story develops and it's clear they are going to get back together, I wasn't crazy about the quasi-bondage scene between them and it left me a bit confused about why he didn't want her to know everything about him. Still, I loved them together as a couple, she's so good at dealing with him and it's obvious they never stopped loving one another.   She's smart and witty, proud, beautiful, she's a great heroine.  I think she's the perfect match for him and she will be a perfect duchess as well.  Everyone loves her too.  They're all so happy to see she's back in the Mackenzie fold, yet all is not perfect in the Mackenzie world.  Someone is trying to kill Hart and it's up to Ian to help.  They have a sort of a telepathic bond between each other in which they can tell when the other is in trouble or lost.   I loved how we learn more about their relationship as brothers, plus it was great seeing so much of Ian and Beth from the first book!  Glimpses of the rest of the large family as well!

Overall, this was a great story, plus I loved the cover and Hart is just as I imagined on it - handsome with short reddish brown hair - he looks great!  The older Hart is even sexier than the younger one!  Yummmm.  

I highly recommend!



Beebs said...

Yep! ditto! I loved it. Absolutely adore this series. :)

Julie at Outlandish Dreaming said...

I wasn't overly thrilled with the last book, but I adored this one so it more than made up for it!

Carrie at In the Hammock Blog said...

i looooooove this author!!! thanks for the great review, i'm looking forward to reading this one.

Julie at Outlandish Dreaming said...

You're welcome Carrie! I'm eager to read about Ainsley's brother in January and Daniel Mackenzie after that.

The Romantic Scientist said...

Can't wait to read this one--I need to catch up on this series!

The_Book_Queen said...

So glad that you loved this one--I'm anxious to read it! :) Love books 1-3, her series is simply amazing!


Mandi said...

I liked this one too! I wish we would have seen more of Hart's darker side, but otherwise I enjoyed. I love this series :)

Julie at Outlandish Dreaming said...

Romantic- you must read the whole series, very worthwhile. One of my favorites. Ashley really know how to make a kilt sexy on a Victorian gentleman.

TBQ-this was worth waiting for I only wish it didn't take so long for the next book in the series to come out! I agree, a great series!

Julie at Outlandish Dreaming said...

Mandi, I agree I think Ashley made it too oblique about what he was capable of, so it lost some impact and was a bit anticlimactic. That is why I was left up in the air over why he wouldn't tell Eleanor everything, tho Ian knew and kept telling him he had to. I kept wondering what are these dark proclivities and the whole trust and surrender thing was lost on me. But that's just me, I am not a fan of bondage so I just wind up scratching my head! LOL!

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