Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: Devil You Know, #1
Publisher: St. Martin’s
Hero: Piers Gedrick Atherton
Heroine: Lady Alexandra Lane
Date of Publication: August 27, 2019
Started On: June 23, 2020
Finished On: June 28, 2020
How to Love a Duke in Ten Days is the debut book in the Devil You Know series by Kerrigan Byrne. Ms. Byrne came to my notice through her Victorian Rebels series, with her penchant for writing dark heroes, unacceptable in the modern times we live, where everything is dissected to the point where the enjoyment factor is taken away in order to publish books that seeks to placate all the notions and theories of those who shape the discourse of the current times.
Either way, Ms. Byrne is an author I choose to come back to because she delivers heroes of the kind I mentioned, with strong heroines who aren’t afraid of accepting the love of their lives for who they are. Of course love in its truest form, tends to change everyone for the better. How love influences the life of even the coldest of us is a marvelous thing, and that is what I have come to expect in her books, though her most recent works haven’t been hitting that spot exactly.
How to Love a Duke in Ten Days is quite a lengthy read – one more reason to love her work; she does not shy away from giving us stories that prolong the delicious goodness that is usually delivered. The series introduces to readers the lives of the Red Rogues, three women who come across one another at L’Ecole de Chardonne Mont Pèlerin in Switzerland. The three redheads being Lady Alexandra Lane and her dearest friends Francesca Cavendish and Cecelia Teague.
The three of them had gotten away with a lot of things then, pursued the sort of activities that were considered to be out of bounds for ladies. They read books that they were not allowed or supposed to read, they go on adventures of their own making, each on the verge of charting their own course in life when tragedy strikes and Alexandra faces the most heinous of crimes that can be committed against a woman on the cusp of adulthood, changing the course of the lives of the trio in a way they never saw coming.
What happens that night servers as a secret that ties them together through the years that leads up to the current events, where the three who have vowed they would not be taking husbands, finds themselves attending the betrothal of Francesca. However, things take a surprising turn when Alexandra offers to take the place of Francesca instead in marriage, something about Piers Gedrick Atherton, the scarred Duke of Redmayne calling to her.
Alexandra being who she is, wants to face her fears of intimacy head on, but matters of the heart aren’t as simple as she thinks them to be and it is a wild and turbulent ride for both Piers and Alexandra before things take a turn for the right for these two. In the midst of it all, with someone going to extraordinary lengths to target the Red Rogues, the secret that they had sworn to keep all those years back coming to haunt them now, there are no easy answers to be had for everything that unfolds along the way.
I enjoyed How to Love a Duke in Ten Days for the most part. I felt that the story was slow going in some places, especially at the beginning, while juggling the characterisation of multiple characters that Ms. Byrne introduces to readers. It is sometimes the norm for the debut book in the series to take that tangent because this is often where the author has to lay the groundwork for the books that would be published down the line in the series.
I enjoyed Alexandra and Piers, and fell in love with both of them at crucial junctures in the story. Piers, even though he remains clueless about his wife’s past, believing that her fear of intimacy comes from being with a brutish looking man such as himself; he is tender and looks out for her pleasure in every sense. But at the same time, the man who he is deep inside, an alpha who is dominant in nature does show up every once in a while, not to mention his childhood and the trauma associated with it affecting his perception of the fairer sex in a large way.
I fell in love with Alexandra the moment that she cast aside her stoic mannerism in the face of an attack that leaves her with the possibility that Piers might be no more. That was the moment that all her walls came crumbling down, that she showed the depth of her feelings towards her husband, the man who wanted to lay the world at her feet for her enjoyment.
Ms. Byrne does a pretty good job of working through Alexandra’s trauma and there are no miracles which suddenly propels her recovery. It is time as well as the man she calls her husband who helps her, once Piers comes to know of what had actually taken place, lending him that insight to take care of Alexandra’s needs in a way that would allow her to test her boundaries and find her comfort zone and be open to the idea of exploring beyond that. I think that, for the most part was why I enjoyed the story that unfolded. The mystery surrounding the events that takes place as attempts to take the lives of the Red Rogues was just a side story for me, which surprisingly I enjoyed towards its culmination.
While I enjoy the concept of strong and independent heroines, I like the concept of strong and alpha heroes just as much, who do not turn putty in the hands of their beloved from the onset. While Piers was alpha in his way, I am of the opinion that his character was tamped down in a huge way to suit Alexandra’s needs for the most part, and as a result he never really did get to revel in the true joy of being who he is; free to unleash the man within, who has a hunger so deep that it would have been breathtaking to watch unfold. That is the tragedy of this book in my opinion, which could have delivered so much more if not.
Recommended for fans of historical romances that offers rich detail and in-depth characterisation that suits modern tastes of readers today.
Final Verdict: How to Love a Duke in Ten Days delivers a splendid story for the most part, delving into the lives of three rebellious women who defy the norms and conventions to chart their own course in life.
Only when she allowed herself to exhale did he press his mouth fully to hers, coaxing it to soften in sweet, aching drags. She felt the impression of his scar. Sensed his hesitation as it caught against her lower lip. And in that moment, she felt the need to encourage him more urgently than she required reassurance.
She lifted her hand from his shoulder to shape it over his jaw. The hair there was wondrously soft, and she tested it with questing fingers as she turned her mouth to press against the tight stratum where his scar interrupted his lip.
At this, he went impossibly still. His own breath catching as he awaited her next move.
Beneath the clever ministrations of his fingers, something inside her core melted, twisted with exquisite, rapturous heat. His fingers were so incredibly wet, gliding over every tender recess, leaving sweet trails of pleasure in their wake. Teasing her, driving her to the brink of. Of …
Alexandra’s hips lifted from the bed, as a visceral jolt seized her. “Piers?” she gasped.
“Let it come, darling,” he breathed. “Don’t fight it. Embrace it.” All his movement centered on the throbbing peak then, awakening from her body an unholy delight.
“It wouldn’t do to spend our honeymoon apart,” she said, turning from him. “But if that is your wish—”
He seized her arm, pulling her back into their intimate posture, his breath hot against her ear as his body melded to hers. “Do you have any idea, wife, what ten minutes in your company does to me?” His whisper was almost like a snarl in its animalistic intensity. “Do you really think I can smell your scent, that I can watch you knowing what lies beneath your shapeless dresses, and keep myself from tasting what is mine?”
“I don’t see why … we couldn’t make some sort of arrangement,” she offered breathlessly.
“Arrangement?” The word sounded indecent from his voice.
“We could … trade favors. Without intercourse. It could … help us to further our acquaintanceship.”
And, if they were lucky, they could teach each other a little about trust.
“I have one condition,” he murmured into her ear.
“You let me use my tongue.”
“Where did you go?” she whispered gently. “You’re miles away.”
“I was visiting the future,” he said casually.
“Oh?” Her brows rose. “And what did you see there, pray?”
“You,” he murmured, inhaling her vaguely tropical scent. Sweet and citrus. Intoxicating.
“And what was I doing?” she inquired.
He leaned in as low as he could while maintaining their waltz. “You were screaming my name.”
She blanched and would have stumbled had he not such a solid hold upon her. “W-what?”
“You were crying out blasphemies to every god you don’t believe in while you came apart in my arms.”
“Piers!” she gasped against his mouth.
“I like it when you say my name,” he growled. “I’ll like it even better when you moan it.”
“What—what are you doing?”
“I’m going to make you come.”
“Come.” She whispered the word as though testing it, and the husky, illicit sound of it almost broke his last vestige of restraint. “Like—like you did last night? With your fingers?”
Christ, was she trying to kill him? “Is that what you want?”
She paused, her short, hard breaths breaking against his. In that moment, he would have given his left eye to see her expression. “I would,” she said breathlessly. “I want…”
He gripped her hips. Ruthlessly pinning her still as he focused wet, rhythmic darts of his tongue across the trembling peak of her clitoris. The sensation of it seized every one of her muscles with such arching force, she’d not realized what his other hand was about to do.
Until his finger sank inside her.
She clamped her other hand over the first, unable to contain her scream. The pleasure locked her muscles. Held her captive in a dizzying, almost terrifying summit.
Tonight in the dark, a part of him had entered her, if only for the briefest of blissful moments … and she’d drenched him with her sweetest release.
At once, his cock was no longer in his trousers. He dipped the finger into his mouth, then another, searching for the trace of her flavor. Leaving moisture on his fingers, he brought them down to his pulsing sex, spreading what he could over the steely length of him.
He wanted this to be her hand. Soft and small where his was large and rough.
Or her mouth. Hot and wet and welcoming.
The climax began as a burn in his spine, spilling down his entire frame like an avalanche. Inevitable. Unstoppable. Overpowering.
As the shocks of release became surges, he made a sound only an animal could have. Bringing her drawers down to his hips, he spilled liquid heat on the snowy-white linen. The sight of it inflamed him further as pulse after pulse was pulled from his very core for such a length of time, he wondered if it would ever cease.
He was like a human incinerator, immolating her with his carnal heat.
Alexandra felt light-headed, not only disoriented by the swiftness of his kiss, but by the change in him. This was no patient, roguish seduction. This man grinding her against his very powerful, very naked body heeded no rules and brokered no patience.
He’d become a creature of raw, animalian need.
Alexandra looked down to where she straddled his thighs, where the formidable shape of his sex tented the sheet.
“I—I don’t know how to please you,” she confessed, suddenly daunted.
He gazed up at her with a patience so tender, so genuine, it released a swell of emotion inside her. “Don’t you know by now, Alexandra, that everything you do pleases me? To look at you pleases me. To touch and kiss you pleases me. The scent and taste and shape of you is the greatest pleasure I’ve ever known. Anything you do beyond that…”
His words died on an indrawn hiss as she reached between them and uncovered him, curling her fingers around the jutting base of his erection. It was warmer than she imagined. Hotter, even, than his fevered body.
He dipped his finger lower, wickedly testing where their bodies were joined, gathering the abundant moisture there and swirling it around her throbbing hood.
Her lips tore from his as her spine arched and flexed, her head dropping back on her shoulders as a hoarse, guttural cry broke from her.
She convulsed around him, over him, her sex milking at him in voluptuous, rhythmic waves. Her unbound hair brushed the small of her back, and her clasping fingers tore at his own locks as she shivered and shuddered in a long, extravagant release.
He slid into her with one fluid, beautifully deep motion, settling into another deliberate, controlled rhythm. His alert eyes searched her face, gauged her expressions.
She felt his hesitancy. His lingering restraint, and she brought her hands around his waist and lower, pressing him deeper.
“More,” she whispered, feeling him tense, seeing the question in his eyes. “More,” she repeated, lifting her hips to meet his.
His thrusts quickened, driving deeper, pressing her higher.
She loved this, the softness of the mattress at her back, the hardness of him on top of her. She felt safe. She felt … glorious.