The Duke of Dark Desires
Jeanne de Falleron is not a governess, but when she’s offered the opportunity to tutor three young girls in the home of Julian Fortescue, the Duke of Denford, she jumps on it. Her main goal is to find the Englishman who was responsible for the death of her family. Julian doesn’t really care about his three half-sisters, Laura, Fenella, and Maria, but they’re left in his care nonetheless. His mother, who cares more about her parade of suitors than her own children, travels to America with her latest husband. While Julian consults with a friend on the proper way to hire a governess, he’s set on hiring Jane Grey (Jeanne in disguise) because he’d rather have her in his bed.
Julian’s cavalier attitude toward his sisters and sleazy, predatory behavior toward Jane was an extremely unappetizing start to the novel, and I couldn’t bring myself to like this hero. Inevitably, Jane found herself drawn to Julian’s masculine magnetism, but it didn’t make his initial advances any less creepy. Readers will have to suspend their disbelief considerably to make Julian and Jane work. I found myself feeling bad for Julian’s sisters, flat characters who were clearly tools to show Julian had some occasional sense of obligation.