A Wicked Bargain for the Duke
Megan Frampton’s A Wicked Bargain for the Duke is the third title in her Hazards of Dukes series and features Thaddeus Dutton, the new Duke of Hasford, a man determined to marry the perfect duchess, and Lady Lavinia Capel, who is determined to keep Thaddeus from marrying her sister. With a unique hero and a plot that doesn’t follow a typical historical romance formula, this is one of my favorite reads so far this year.
Thaddeus Dutton, was a military man who inherited a ducal title after his cousin was found to be illegitimate. Thaddeus’ first order of business is writing a list of his goals for the dukedom, including finding a suitable duchess. He writes another list describing this perfect woman and believes he has found her in Lady Jane Capel, even though he finds himself drawn to her sister, Lady Lavinia. Lavinia makes it her mission to help her shy and mild-mannered older sister get through her season without becoming engaged to anyone – duke or not – because she is in love with another man. Due to their mutual attraction, Lavinia has no problem distracting Thaddeus, even if he’d rather she didn’t. After a misunderstanding leaves Lavinia compromised, she and Thaddeus are forced to marry.
Thaddeus is not as experienced in the bedroom as many men of his age and position are. Their wedding night is not everything Lavinia hoped it would be, so she resolves to discuss it with her new husband to see if they can come to a mutual understanding. Together, they begin to learn how to please each other in bed, but, thanks to his emotionally unavailable parents, Thaddeus believes himself to be unable to express emotion and so he still holds a part of himself back from Lavinia, not letting her see who he truly is. She endeavors to break through to his heart and realizes she might have to risk her own to do it.
I have a confession to make: I get so tired of the same alpha-male-who’s-slept-with-everything-in-skirts hero in historical romances. They’ve everywhere. Thaddeus is different because he’s relatively inexperienced, and I also adored the fact that he is so puzzled by interactions with other people but is willing to learn.
Lavinia is fabulous, too, because of her strong personality and her courage to go after what she wants and make the best of her marriage to Thaddeus since neither of them wanted it. It was refreshing to read a heroine who doesn’t think sex is that great the first time she has it but sees the possibilities anyway. She is such a spunky and fun character, what with her rambling and saying whatever pops into her head.
I happen to be a big fan of forced marriage stories, and this one is no exception. I am actually very glad the plot went in direction it did, because I didn’t want to read about Thaddeus chasing Jane the whole time while being thwarted by Lavinia. It’s great to see the hero and heroine come together the way they do, and for Lavinia to be an active participant in what goes on in the bedroom.
A Wicked Bargain for the Duke is a departure from the often formulaic historical romances, containing an atypical forced marriage and a hero that doesn’t fit the usual molds. It was a great pleasure to read it and I’m excited for the next in the series!!