Forbidden to Love the Duke by Jillian Hunter #review

Forbidden to Love the Duke by Jillian Hunter #review
Forbidden to Love the Duke

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Series: #1 The Fenwick Sisters Affairs
Genres: Historical Romance
Published by Signet
Released on February 3, 2015
Pages: 352
Format: Paperback
Source: Publisher

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What a sparkling new series in the historical romance genre! I had such a good time with this opening story in a series about four quirky, beautiful, talented, and reclusive sisters who have survived on guts and togetherness after their father died in a dual and left them destitute. It’s not deep, it’s not dark, but it is delightful, humorous and passionate and I look forward to more of the same with the next installment.

Your Grace?” said his coachman, a musket under his arm. “Shall I accompany you? I’ve heard stories about this place.”

“Tell me one.”

The coachman squinted up at the roof. “Dangerous women abide within. Women who bend men to their will.”

James grinned. “What is it that they make their victims do?”

“Wicked things, from what I gather.”

“They sound like women I might like. Now I am compelled to continue.”

“And as for me?”

“Let me sacrifice myself first.” p. 11 James from Forbidden to Love the Duke

Ivy is the oldest of four sisters who have just cleared their father’s debt after five years of scrimping and saving, but it is not enough if they wish to survive and keep their precious home when the tax collector comes looking for his due. They are down to hiding from the eyes of the world that would censure them, hiding from anyone with just one more bill to pay and hiding from handsome men who covet their ancestral home. She determines that this earl’s daughter will swallow her pride, her fears, and she will take up a genteel position as a governess. The position she secures is with none other than the rakish duke who was interested in their home and who, years before stole her first kiss and left her immune to other men. His niece and nephew were dropped at his door right about the time he was expecting to receive his mistress. What a situation and definitely a man she needs to avoid at all costs even while providing proper care of his relations.

James was the duke’s heir and a light-hearted profligate before he left for war. The war was hard and indelibly changed him in some ways including leaving him with permanent scars and injuries. To the last, his father remained unimpressed, but now the dukedom is his responsibility as are the affairs of his brother’s house while Curtis is still away serving in the war. But before he takes up all these things, he just wants one week of pleasure with his new mistress. Unfortunately, all his plans turn upside down with his encounter of a beauty from his past- one of the eccentric Fenwick sisters- and with the descent of his brother’s children after their mother ran off with her latest conquest. James can’t very well carry on as he was so he holds off on having his mistress come and instead focuses on Lady Ivy who is still a strongly attractive woman even while she tries to hold him at arms length and care for her sisters. A rival comes to woo Ivy and James suddenly has a change of plans and heart along with a definite aversion toward the poet who is making nice over at Fenwick Manor and trying to take Ivy from James. Does he want Ivy or does the wastrel want access to that old house to look for treasure? James only has eyes for one treasure and he plans to keep her.

This story had a tendency to turn into a madcap romp and gets a little more crazy and loose with the plot than is too my taste, but didn’t go completely off the rails. It is not to be taken seriously though at its core it does offer some serious themes of love, fidelity, family and duty. I’m fond of quirky characters and they are usually found in small town romances, but I love how the author is able to achieve the same affect with a historical romance. James, his friends, the Fenwick sisters, the children, and the other players in the plot all have sides to their characters that are engaging and amusing.

James had his spyglass focused on the light carriage stopped outside the park’s gates. He stood motionless, but inwardly his temper burned like a bonfire. So did his old war wound. He didn’t give a damn that a duke should be above prying into his governess’ personal life. If there was any immorality to be taking place on this estate, James would be the responsible party, thank you. p. 147 James from Forbidden to Love the Duke

The romance is seduction-style in nature. Both are honestly attracted and want to be together, but not in the same way. James wants Ivy, but he doesn’t want to settle down with the whole wife and getting the heir yet. He is honest about his want, but makes no promises for the future. Ivy is weak toward his charms and wants him too, but she won’t accept anything less than love and commitment if she is to give in. They play some cat and mouse and get up to some real sexy times. I liked these two and liked them together though I confess to a milder vestment in their romance. Being part of the whole story which is much stronger than its parts helped.

For all the teasing and steamy flirtatiousness in the romance and the stuff that the sisters and the children get up too, there is an unexpected mystery of sorts and it has a few twists and danger moments. This one ended with the romance plot tied up nicely, but left things open for a couple mysteries to continue unveiling through the series along with each sisters’ stories.

The group of characters introduced in this story was all engaging. I liked each sister and how each is unique in personality and appearance just like I enjoyed the intro to those handsome men that are in their circle. I totally want to know Rue’s secret and I want to see what comes of Curtis now that he is home. Yep, see, totally hooked.

All in all, things are off to a good start with entertaining spicy historical romance with its colorful characters and plot. Historical Romance fans that just want a light, entertaining read with a bit of steam would probably find this appealing.

My thanks to Penguin Group for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

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I was born and raised near Sacramento, CA. I have read since I was four years old and developed tastes that run the gamut of literature. I went away to college and have a degree in education, a certificate in family history research, and a certificate in social work. I worked for a non-profit agency with low income families for 20 years which included being responsible for the children’s library and promoting/teaching adult literacy. I have lived in Southeast Michigan for the last 18 years and I am currently a book addicted homemaker with a cat and husband who keep me grounded. Recently, I made it a challenge to review each book that I have read as a favor to author friends who said reviews are important. I have done reviews for Good Reads, Amazon, eBay, and Smashwords, but mostly at Goodreads and Amazon.


  1. It looks like it’s exactly what I need to read these days, great review, well argumented as always 😉 I’ll be trying to read one historical romance at least per month this year, I’ll make sure this one will be among them !

    1. Oh, it is definitely the think if you want something lighter that doesn’t take itself seriously. That’s a nice personal challenge. I finally started getting back to HR last year and made it a goal to try mostly new to me authors. I found some gems. Thanks, Iza!

  2. This sounds like a fun historical romance, with a good story and some mystery thrown in. And how each book is told by a different sister sounds interesting. Great review!

    1. You know, I have the same sensation when I was reading it thus the comment about the plot coming loose b/c I wasn’t sure how to describe that. It was fun and I want to read about the other characters. I hope there really is treasure in that house and they get a treasure hunt.

  3. I’m slowly getting back to histrom, read one today and will likely troll EW for more
    I know Avon has a good catalogue. I hope I find something like this.

    1. I’m enjoying the various nuances in the HR genre. Some are serious and dark, others have some paranormal, others are really swoony, but then there are these light and funny ones too. So much to enjoy at most publishers I’m sure, Braine.

  4. oh I just enjoy this author…and this one is on my list as soon as I finish the current series I am on. Love the beginning quote though….definitely made my day. 🙂 I do enjoy the light and funny when I am in the mood for it.

    1. This was only my second book by her and I liked both of them for the light adventure quality to them. James was so funny most of the time and such a rogue. 😉

  5. OOOOOO. I am always on the prowl for new historical romance novels. A mystery! That sounds interesting. I recently read a Julie Anne Long book (It Started With A Scandal) and loved it! Unrelated haha, but I definitely recommend it 😀

    Fabulous review, Sophia!

    Alyssa @ The Eater of Books!