cover image To Desire a Wicked Duke

To Desire a Wicked Duke

Nicole Jordan, Ballantine, $7.99 mass market (384p) ISBN 978-0-345-51009-9

Jordan concludes her Courtship Wars Regency trilogy with a clichéd romance featuring a saintly, sassy heroine determined to protect her heart; a rake who constantly meddles in the heroine's life; a forced marriage; and a ghostly subplot at a castle on the coast. Two years after Tess Blanchard's fiancé was killed at war, she falls into the arms of his cousin Ian Sutherland, the duke of Rotham. The two are caught by Tess's patroness, who insists they marry. Tess responds to Ian physically, but despises his wicked reputation and high-handed manner. Ian, actually quite deserving of love, keeps major secrets that fit the narrative but highlight his astounding lack of emotional self-awareness. Add a series-linking subplot involving a onetime courtesan, a child who may or may not be the hero's by-blow, and predictably purple love scenes, and the checklist is complete. (Mar.)