In the Bed of a Duke
In the Bed of a Duke is a fast-paced read and a relatively painless way to spend some time, as long as you don’t take it too seriously. The story’s speed means that one is usually not bored, though that doesn’t mean it always makes sense. A few clichéd twists are offered in a wildly over-the-top plot, and though it strains believability, the book passes by much too quickly for any flaws to be a serious problem.
Phillip Maddox, the Duke of Colster, and Charlotte Cameron have an unpleasant past together. He was once engaged to Charlotte’s sister Miranda, who ended up running away with her secret love at their betrothal ball. Charlotte helped prevent Phillip from going after them. I vaguely remember the previous book, but not much else – I think I was unable to finish it. Luckily, I didn’t find the references to the past book to be distracting – neither did I have a problem finishing this one, which I found to be slightly better and such a fast read that I could overlook its flaws.
Charlotte has no regrets about publicly humiliating the powerful Duke of Colster, but she is suffering the consequences. She and her sisters are outcasts from polite society. With few options, she accepts an invitation to visit Laird MacKenna in his home in Scotland. Laird MacKenna has expressed interest in her, particularly since they have a common enemy in the Duke.
Charlotte travels to his home, but her trip is slowed by a storm. Unfortunately for her, the Duke of Colster – investigating a mysterious claim that his twin brother, assumed to have died at birth, is actually alive – is also on his way to Laird MacKenna’s home. His horse has fallen and he needs a ride, and Charlotte offers to help him before realizing whom exactly she has invited into the carriage.
There is more than a moment of awkwardness between them, but it’s not long before they’re trading barbs, and even sooner they are trading arguments for hot kisses within the confines of the carriage. It’s mind-boggling how quickly they become intimate (and why was she unaccompanied, anyway?), and even though there’s an explanation, it wasn’t very satisfactory.
Laird MacKenna is waiting, and not with open arms, and there’s the matter of the mysterious twin brother (does he really exist? And if he does, he is the new duke, so what will Phillip do?). Phillip inherited a feud with MacKenna that goes back to when his family sold their estates in Scotland and moved out, leaving many tenants with nowhere else to go and no way to make a living. The feud is not all that compelling, but thankfully, it gives Phillip and Charlotte a reason to stop arguing and, for once, to unite.
The secret twin brother plot, involving treachery and love, may not be novel, but it helps make the story go by quickly. The story is continually over-the-top in regards to drama (with multiple secret babies, angst from multiple discarded lovers, hordes of people ready to fight a war, etc.), and perhaps that’s why no matter how ludicrous some of the plot twists are, nothing that happens ends up being memorable or really affecting. On the flip side, there was also not much that was really unpleasant.
Overall, I would say the book was a quick and easy way to pass the time. There is not too much depth or complexity in the characters or their relationship, but there are some entertaining scenes and at times I did enjoy their banter. The weaker portions of the story passed so quickly that it really made little difference in the end, and I just shrugged off the more ridiculous bits of drama. It wasn’t especially satisfying, but there’s something nice about a story that manages to keep moving and never bogs you down.