One Dance with a Duke (Stud Club #1) by Tessa Dare

[rating=3] Note to publisher: DUDES, if the author places a hefty chick in the lead role, PLEASE do not put a twiggy model on the book cover. It’s misleading, annoying, and leads to cognitive dissonance every time I pick up the book. “This can’t be what I was reading… my heroine had BIG MILKWAGONS. The cover of this book suggests that the hero is trying to get the woman in his arms to EAT A SANDWICH.”

Here we have an uncommunicative, alpha male – not a rake; just a stubborn, prideful guy – with a curvy wallflower heroine who suddenly grows a pair when she realizes there won’t be any summer vacay at the cottage this year. Our hero, Spencer, the Duke of Morland, is the guy who can get her back into a Muskoka chair sipping a Corona if she can only persuade him to forgive her brother’s little gambling debt. Except, it’s a Regency, so replace “Muskoka” with “wingback” and “Corona” with “ratafia”.

So begins our story.

Dialogue is clearly Dare’s strong point; some of her word craft is masterful. She added enough conflict to keep the hero & heroine apart, but didn’t fall prey to the usual pitfall of endless misunderstandings that could be resolved by a five minute powwow. Yes, there’s lots of pouty “I don’t WANT to tell you what’s wrong” in the beginning, but the characters work it out gradually in a series of clever conversations, abetted by bribery, gambling and of course, sex.

A few spicy scenes, nicely penned with no gross euphemisms for putting the P in the V. Again Ms. Dare walks the tightrope between having a possessive, commanding, brusque hero (hallmarks of any true alpha), while not making him a complete dick. He’s an egalitarian lover (reads his Wollstonecraft, don’tcha know?) and I wish everyone understood the basic concept of “If I do it to you and you enjoy it, I’ll probably like it if you do it to me.”

Another point in Spencer’s favor is that he can’t rumpy-pumpy like the Energizer bunny, pounding away at the heroine until her nether bits fall off. He’s a quick-draw guy, which I think is very sexy as it puts the female in a position of power and makes her feel extra desirable. “I only have to LOOK at him, and he’s ready to orgasm! Whee!”

A good read, despite my dislike of the whole Stud Club murder subplot. I understand that it adds helpful complications to the story, which are needed to keep he & she apart until the Happily Ever After, but it strikes me as so contrived when placed next to the otherwise honest love story. I preferred the second book in the series ‘Twice Tempted by a Rogue’, which focused on the tortured tough guy Rhys and his interior-decor obsessed lover, but that’s just me.

Lastly, I ADORE the author’s homemade promo video. Watch & enjoy!

May I recommend another jolly fine Regency or four, milady?

1) Sarah MacLean’s ‘Nine Rules To Break When Romancing A Rake’

2) Georgette Heyer’s ‘Devil’s Cub’

3) Julia Quinn’s ‘What Happens In London’

4) Lauren Willig’s ‘The Mischief of the Mistletoe’

3 of 5 stars / bookshelves: read, romance, regency, 384 pages, Publisher: Ballantine (2010)
Read from July 30 to August 05, 2012

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