‘All I Want for Christmas is a Duke’ by Delilah Marvelle & Máire Claremont

AIWFCIAD DM MCSTORY: Merry Christmas, Mrs. Robinson by Delilah Marvelle

Lady Jane left her father, the Earl of Chadwick, and the ton behind to experience life on the stage. After a disastrous marriage, the widow is living on the edge of poverty, determined to guard her heart, when a secret admirer from her past demands a second chance.

Shy and retiring Martin Nicholas Pierce, the Sixth Duke of Somerset, has carried a torch for Lady Jane since her youth, but he is five years her junior. When she married another man, he left for Europe, determined to put her out of his mind. After returning to find Lady Jane free, he vows to replace the memories of her cursed Twelfth Night with a new beginning.

STORY: The Twelve Days of Seduction By Máire Claremont

Alexander Hunt, Eighth Duke of Berresford, is aware his ward’s governess isn’t quite what she seems. Although Miss Flint is beautiful and intelligent, she misrepresented herself to gain employment, and he threatens to give her the sack mere days before Christmas.

Desperate to convince the sexy duke not to tear her from the little girl she’s grown to adore, Adriana challenges him to seduce her before the Twelve Days of Christmas have come to an end, although she fears it may cost her heart. Alexander accepts the challenge, unconcerned that he has as much to lose, if not more, than the delectable Miss Flint.

REVIEW: ‘Merry Christmas Mrs. Robinson’ by Delilah Marvelle

This story was extra special to me because of its pairing of the older woman/younger man. In my personal life, I am the older woman…

Lady Jane was only in her early twenties when she decided, and was encouraged by her younger friend Martin, to defy the society and reach for her dream of becoming an opera singer. A decision like that came with a heavy price of being estranged from her family and being shunned by most of the society. I say most, because men of that society adored and pursued her relentlessly. One of them in particular caught not just her attention, but the attention of the papers as well. To all of them he was only known as Mister X and his letters were something she looked forward to, knowing that his words brought her closer to that elusive thing called love. And then one day, a man shows up and claims her heart in the name of Mister X…

Martin Pierce, the sixth Duke of Somerset, is worried about his elderly Aunt who was neglected by his family because many years ago she defied Society and ran off with a man not worthy of her station. He is trying very hard to have her see and understand that the living quarters she resides in are roach infested and not suitable to her station. Through his discussion with her, he finds out that the woman he adored and never could forget is now impoverished and residing in the same building as his Aunt.  This news crushes him and he realizes that the time has come for him to act on his deep feelings for her.

It’s no secret to any of my followers how much I love anything this author writes and this short novella is no different. I loved the way she portrayed both hero and heroine as two lonely souls that connected as friends first, and lovers later.

As they grew older, they seemed to have reversed their personalities. Long ago, Martin was all of seventeen; shy and reserved young fellow with a deep feeling for an ‘older’ woman of twenty-two.  The only relationship he could offer Jane was that of a friend. That, however never stopped him from secretly declaring his love for her through his letters.

Jane had been strong and forward thinking female filled with excitement and not shy at all. She believed in herself and her dreams, wanting to absorb all that life had to offer, most of all the love of a man whom she loved through his letters.

Years later, Jane’s doubts and apprehension of the intimacy she knows she wants, but isn’t sure of are now keeping her away from Martin.

Martin on the other hand is now a man to be reckoned with.  Gone is the shy and timid youngster to be replaced by this gloriously handsome and love starved man who knows what he not just wants but needs with all his heart.

This is one of those stories that I’ll be rereading from year to year, that’s how good it was! My heart just went out to both of them. In this story you’ll find a bit of everything, from wit to sensuality, but romance is the driving force and I highly recommend it for many Christmases to come.

REVIEW: ‘The Twelve Days of Seduction’ By Máire Claremont

This story comes to us from an author that will blow us all away when her début book comes out next year. Keep an eye on ‘The Dark Lady: A Novel of Mad Passions’ coming out February 5, 2013.

If y’all are ‘Jane Eyre’ fans, this one will be a hit for you, no question about it. For all of those that never read ‘Jane Eyre’ [or for that matter saw any version’s offered to us from many filmmakers, notably the BBC series with Toby Stephens playing Mr. Rochester, who I thought did even better job than Orson Welles], I am sure you’ll love it as well.

Adriana Flint’s understated beauty and strong character were driving force behind this story of a woman who pulled herself out of the gutter, quite literally.

She is a survivor and through sheer determination alone, she reinvents herself as this proper English miss that takes the position of a governess, to a little girl who is challenged by a limp, the Duke of Berresford’s ward. She adores the little mite and dedicates herself to teaching her ways to overcome her disability. Adriana also realizes that sooner or later, her secret identity and her ‘moonlighting’ job will be discovered and crush not only her, but two people she had come to care for so much.

Alexander Hunt, Eighth Duke of Berresford is a man who adores his little ward and would do anything to keep her from harm. Over a year ago he had hired her Governess and watched the little girl thrive under her care. He respected and observed the boundaries he set by ignoring his secret desire for the prim and proper young woman under his employ and protection. That, however is about to change, as he confronts her and decides to either throw her on her ear, or keep her as his mistress and far away from his home.

As they both come to an understanding that would be amicable to both, Adriana accepts his offer to become his mistress, but only if he manages to seduce her for the next twelve days. Ms. Claremont writes the rest of the story with an easy prose, fast pace and gives us a look into the romance of these two lonely but headstrong people who will make your eyes mist.

Both of these stories were written with romance in mind first and will touch your heart with its unique characters, setting and sensuality.

I am always happy when I read Ms. Marvelle’s work, but now my curiosity is peaked by the new author I discovered and am eagerly awaiting and looking forward to making room for on my Keeper shelf.

Book provided by NetGalley.