Format: .epub (provided by publisher in exchange for an honest review)
Publisher: The Passionate Pen
Release Date: January 13, 2015
For years Serafina McPhee has been engaged to marry the heir to the Duke of Hartholm and for almost as long, she has been struggling to find a way out of that engagement. When he suddenly dies, she does not mourn but thrills at the idea that she will be free. Unfortunately, best laid plans go awry when the next in line for the title, her intended’s cousin, Raphael “Rafe” Flynn is forced to take over the engagement. But Serafina knows Rafe’s reputation as a libertine and wants nothing to do with him, either, even if he is devastatingly handsome.
She proposes an arrangement: she will agree to the marriage and provide Rafe with his heir and spare. Once she has done her duty, he will let her go. Rafe is intrigued both by her beauty and by her utter disgust with the idea of being his bride. Women normally fall at his feet, not cringe away from him. However, since their arranged marriage is not something he can escape, he agrees to her terms.
But when he finds out on their wedding night the truth about her torture at the hands of his predecessor, he finds himself driven not just to fulfill his bargain with his new bride, but to introduce her to desire. While they move closer together, surrendering to wicked pleasures, dangerous emotions may violate every agreement they’ve made.
Meeting a new characters is always thrilling. There’s that little voice that always says: What if I don’t like them? But then there’s the other voice that says But what if I end up loving them? It’s that second voice that I try and listen to 99% of the time, and it’s books like The Other Duke that make the gamble worthwhile because I totally fell for this book and its characters.
Serafina McPhee is dreading her marriage to the Duke of Hartholm even as she’s prepared to do her duty. When he suddenly dies, Serafina is overjoyed at the thought that she’s free, but that joy is short lived when she is informed that her marriage contract states that she must marry the Duke of Hartholm no matter who he is. Enter Raphael “Rafe” Flynn. Distant cousin to the deceased and the reluctant new Duke. Desperate for any form of freedom, Serafina proposes that once she has provided him with heirs they will live separately, to which Rafe agrees. However, on their wedding night, Rafe learns the horrible truth of Serafina’s previous engagement and decides to teach her that relationships don’t always have to be negative.
Normally the hero commands attention whenever he is in a scene but I noticed that Rafe, for all his charms and roguish reputation, was more subdued than I expected. He didn’t altogether fade into the background, nor was he a dull character but it seemed like this was more about Serafina’s comfort than his. I didn’t realize how much I would enjoy a hero who wasn’t such a spotlight hog. Rafe was gentle, kind and considerate. He knew Serafina needed to overcome more than just her fear of sex; she needed to overcome her fear of rejection. I ended up in love with him way sooner than Serafina did.
I’ve never read Jess Michaels before so I’m not sure if this is true for her other books but she was very thorough with Serafina’s emotions. Serafina was a woman who was sexually, physically and mentally abused and had all the emotional scars to prove it. As naïve as women were kept back in those days, explaining to her that her marriage shouldn’t and wouldn’t be like what she had already experienced wasn’t going to work for Rafe. He needed to show her what it would be like. The Other Duke wasn’t just about Rafe and Serafina falling in love, it was about healing. I felt like this story was more about relationships, healthy and unhealthy, romantic and platonic and how they can affect a person in drastic ways and influence their future behavior.
The author even found time to include a cast of minor characters that I can’t wait to get to as this series progresses: Rafe’s family! His brother Crispin, though younger, was so protective of Rafe and concerned that his sudden ascension to the dukedom would change him or trap him and I wonder if it’s a personal experience or just an opinion that has Crispin that way. However, my favorite member of the Flynn family is Rafe’s sister Annabelle! I have such a fondness for historical romances that have “oddball” women in them and while Serafina might be the most beautiful character, Annabelle has the potential to be the most interesting and the most fun. I can’t wait to hopefully see more of her.
Final Verdict: I'm definitely going to keep an eye out for the next book in this series. These characters just might make my favorites list.