Rules of Engagement

Love is in the Heir

How to Seduce a Duke
by Kathryn Caskie
(Avon, $6.99, PG) ISBN 0-06-112456-7
How to Seduce a Duke by Kathryn Caskie lost me from the very first. The opening scenario in which the three sisters cover themselves in powder to pass themselves off as statues is completely over the top. The masquerade is an attempt by the oldest sister, Mary, to allow her two younger sisters, Anne and Elizabeth, a peek at the man Mary has decided to marry. Things go wrong and the older brother of Mary’s love interest gets a little too close, as in millimeters away from fondling Mary‘s breast, so Mary has to slap him and run away.

The three sisters (who are actually triplets) are in London at their newly deceased father’s behest. He left them a mystery as to their parentage and all the clues seem to point to the sisters being royal bastards taken from their mother at birth. Their mission to find the truth is aided by a group of elderly gentlemen who call themselves the “Old Rakes of Marylebone, and one Lady Upperton. This situation is also way over the top with hidden bookshelf doors, secrets and intrigue.

The gentleman upon whom Mary has cast a matrimonial eye is the new Viscount Wetherly, brother to Rogan Wetherly, Duke of Blackstone (and statue fondler). As the sisters are introduced to society by the Old Rakes and Lady Upperton, Mary believes her wish to know Quinn, Viscount Wetherly better is to be fulfilled. But she is stymied time and again by Rogan, who finds himself quickly becoming obsessed with Mary.

While Rogan’s plot to separate Quinn and Mary is sort of amusing, the rest of the book is simply not. Unfortunately the book doesn’t know whether it should be a comedy, a mystery, or a romance. Even more unfortunate is that the comedic elements are not humorous (at least I HOPE some parts were supposed to be funny), the mystery isn’t very involving, and the romance is completely unsatisfying.

Special mention must be made at how offensive Rogan and Mary’s “romance” is, especially regarding the first time they have sex. I don’t say “love scene” or “make love” mainly because their first effort is more of a date rape situation than anything else. One or the other of this couple is always feeling put upon or tricked and one would think (hope) that they would cut their losses. Nowadays Rogan and Mary would be a divorce waiting to happen.

The only recommendation I have for How to Seduce a Duke is that readers stay away.

--Wendy Livingston

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