For some reason I’ve missed the last couple of Boscastle books (I don’t know why), but oh my gosh, I have to go back and read them because this book was so much fun. I’d forgotten how much fun Jillian Hunter’s books can be. Reading The Wicked Duke Takes a Wife reminded me of why I enjoy Jillian Hunter’s books so much. She pits an unconventional heroine with a slightly stuffy, but oh so bad hero, throws in a totally unsuitable heiress, a dash of slander and a little kidnapping, stirs in a lot of sexual tension, then ties it all up neatly in a story of love and redemption.
Harriet grew up in St. Giles and was caught robbing the Marchioness of Sedgecroft’s jewels—well she would have stolen them if she wasn’t distracted by the shoes and gowns—which brings Harriet to the attention of the Marchioness’s sister-in-law Lady Emma Boscastle. Owning a ladies’ academy gives Lady Emma has a sense about people and she believes that Harriet can be reformed. After two years of hard work at the academy Harriet is transformed a’ la Pygmalion style and emerges as an instructor there where the Duke of Glenmorgan arrives with his niece and great-aunt in tow, throwing Harriet’s new life into disarray. Harriet immediately starts forgetting her lessons in manners and diction which not only intrigues Griffin, but his aunt Primrose as well. Primrose quickly steals Harriet away from the academy to be her companion—which is about the best a girl born in St. Giles can hope for, and every day Griffin leads Harriet a little further down the path of temptation.
Griffin was the spare, but after an unfortunate riding accident that Griffin blames himself for, and the spare is now the heir. He is even now stuck having to contract a marriage with the cold woman that was originally intended for his brother, and all of society is clamoring to be invited to the wedding of the century, but Griffin finds Harriet far more tempting and more fun to be around.
Griffin never wanted to be the duke and it shows because he was so unlike the dukes you normally read about and I found it refreshing. Yes, he was arrogant as all Duke’s are, but, it wasn’t because he was born to the role, it was because he truly didn’t care what his future bride, or society thought of him since he planned to immediately return to his estate and never see them again, and that right there was where a lot of the fun happened. Then when you put Griffin and Harriet in the same room the sparks really fly. Harriet makes quick work of Griffin’s intended fiance (with a little help from her thief brothers) which had me in stitches.
I thoroughly enjoyed Griffin and Harriet as a couple and I did believe in their HEA, even if it was quick. They were both unconventional and a lot of fun to watch. Harriet had her street smarts which helped her bluster her way through many situations while Griffin generally resorted to brawn. He did try to keep his distance from Harriet knowing he was expected to marry elsewhere, but he didn’t stand a chance once his aunt Primrose resorted to sneak tactics to get the two of them together. Primrose was quite a character and she made the story a lot of fun as well. Griffin’s niece Edlyn has her own sad story in The Wicked Duke Takes a Wife, which would take too long to explain here, but I hope she gets her own story eventually. Even though The Wicked Duke Takes a Wife is part of a series there wasn’t a lot of previous story fill in the blanks, so this story stands completely on its own amidst Ms. Hunter’s Boscastle family. This is a quick, fun read that is perfect for a chilly afternoon, don’t miss it.
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