cover image A Duke but No Gentleman

A Duke but No Gentleman

Alexandra Hawkins. St. Martin’s Paperbacks, $7.99 mass market (304p) ISBN 978-1-250-06472-1

Hawkins’s first Masters of Seduction historical takes readers back to the late 18th century, in which one woman hopes to reform a man who embodies the dissipation of the British aristocracy. Tristan Bailey Rooke, Duke of Blackbern, and Cason Brant, Marquess of Norgrave, are young noblemen intent on sampling all of London’s pleasures. Their latest wager involves Lady Imogene Sunter, the oldest daughter of the Duke of Trevett. Norgrave, whose roguish antics disguise a villainous heart, challenges Blackbern, who’s more the genially clueless sort, to see which man Imogene will take as her lover with the “intention of marriage, not ruination.” The attraction between Blackbern and Imogene is intense, and their friendship quickly leads to a physical encounter, leaving Norgrave debating how to intervene. Imogene may initially appear to be a simpering noblewoman, but that impression is quickly dashed when she stalwartly survives sexual assault (described in graphic detail that may startle readers used to kinder, gentler historical romances). Consensual carnality also abounds, but the romantic plot line remains the main focus, keeping readers guessing about whether the love of one good woman will rescue a rake. Agent: Lynn Seligman, Lynn Seligman Literary Agency. (July)