Review: All I Want for Christmas is a Duke by Delilah Marvell and Maire Claremont

Format read: ebook provided by NetGalley
Formats available: ebook
Genre: Historical Romance, Holiday Romance
Length: 209 pages
Publisher: Entangled Publishing
Date Released: December 5, 2012
Purchasing Info:Delilah Marvelle’s Website, Maire Claremont’s Website, Publisher’s Website, Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble

Two ladies. Two dukes. One Christmas. And scandal galore.

A Christmas anthology by two hot names in historical romance fiction…

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.

The Twelve Days of Seduction By Màire 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.

Two Christmas romances, both featuring Dukes as the heroes. You’d think that these stories would be similar, but beyond that superficial detail, they’re not.

The Twelve Days of Seduction by Màire Claremont starts with one of the classic themes, the governess who falls for her employer. Of course, the author adds more layers onto that trope. The governess also falls for her charge, the Duke’s somewhat willful daughter. And she also falls for the whole gig. She wants to be part of a family, because she never was. Adriana Flint definitely bootstrapped herself up from the underclass.

When the Duke of Berresford discovers that she isn’t what she seems, he should give her the sack. What he wants is to finally take her to bed. Because all the things that were forbidden when she was his daughter’s prim and proper governess are not forbidden if he fires her.

Adriana wants to stay. She loves the child, she loves being part of a family. She might even love Alex, her Duke. But the trick is to get him to let her stay long enough to let him convince himself that she’s the right woman for him. Not as his mistress, but as his duchess.

I found this story to be quite entertaining, and very sensual, but it did break the willing suspension of disbelief quite a bit even though it had lots of Christmas spirit. Maybe it would take the Ghost of Christmas Present to make this one come true.

Escape Rating for The Twelve Days of Seduction by Màire Claremont: B

The first story in this duology is Merry Christmas, Mrs. Robinson by Delilah Marvelle. The story gets off to a slightly rocky start, but turns out to be an absolute polished gem by the end.

Lady Jane takes to the stage, and leaves the life she should have had behind in favor of the glittering world of being a singing sensation. While it might not be the same as being Lady Gaga in our time, Lady Jane has a musical gift that carries her beyond singing in drawing rooms for a few friends, think of Irene Adler in Sherlock Holmes’ A Scandal in Bohemia. She has a major talent, and a need to share it.

But Ladies don’t sing on stage.

She has a secret admirer, a man who sends her beautiful letters, every night, letters that reveal his understanding of her true spirit. But she never knows his name. The man she marries claims to be the mysterious Mr. X turns out to have been stealing the letters to read in advance so he could pretend to be the man she loved but had never met.

When confronted with the truth, her husband has a stroke and dies instantly, leaving her a young widow, cut off from society.

Years later, she ekes out a living giving music lessons, unwilling to sing, unwilling to return to her family hat in hand, when a friend from her youth comes to her boarding house.

Martin Pierce has recently become the Duke of Somerset. He’s discovered that his great-aunt, cut off from his family long before he was born, is living out her remaining years in that boarding house.

And is surprised beyond all belief to find Lady Jane. Surprised, stunned, relieved. Gobsmacked, although that term hadn’t been invented yet.

Because when Lady Jane sang on the stage, she was in her early 20s, and Martin Pierce was a 17-year-old boy painfully in love with her. He was the real Mr.X. He loves her still.

Now that they are both adults, the five-year gap in their ages is immaterial, but the difference in their status suddenly looms very large. As does his secret.

Can they start over? Should they? Martin is no longer the shy boy he once was, and he knows that he has to try.

Merry Christmas, Mrs. Robinson turned out to be utterly marvelous. Lady Jane’s pride was painfully well drawn, as was the spritely character of Martin’s aunt, Lady Ernastine. She’s a gem. Watching Martin take charge of his life is beautiful and powerful to watch.

Escape Rating for Merry Christmas, Mrs. Robinson by Delilah Marvelle: A-

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