Ugh. Well that's two romance buddy reads that did not end well, LOL. I love reading these books with WhiskeyintheJar Romance but wow. This one actually somehow maybe beat out the last book where we had the virgin kidnapped by the escaped convict who threatened her all the time, but somehow love happened.
"The Courtesan Duchess" had two leads who should have dusted their hands off after meeting and agreeing to go live separate lives. The first few sex scenes I had a hard time with (believable scale didn't quite register) but then I just got bored. Nick and Julia were not engaging and as Whiskey said, besides having sex with each other, there was nothing else there. Very boring romance with a plot you could call a mile away.
"The Courtesan Duchess" has Julia, Duchess of Colton traveling to Venice in order to seduce a husband she has not laid eyes on in 8 years. Julia plans on seducing the Duke of Colton, Nick, in order to become pregnant with his heir in order to call on the money that his cousin, Templeton, is now refusing to give to her. Did you follow all that? I think what kills me the most from this story is that Julia had other options, she had a very good friend who is also friend's with Nick who would have given her funds, could have written to Nick, etc. This scheme was so harebrained I couldn't do a thing but laugh at it.
Julia ends up taking lessons from a London courtesan on seduction and each chapter heading has some pearl of wisdom from her to Julia. I feel like I recall this from some movie about a woman who becomes a courtesan in Italy. I am not going to go looking it up.
Oh in case you are wondering why Nick doesn't recognize Julia, it's because she dies her head flaming red and I guess she grew in 8 years. I don't know. I had a hard time with that. I guess he never looked his wife in the face when he recited his vows and refused to have anything to do with her.
If a romance is going to succeed, you have to want the two characters who are the hero and heroine to get together in the end. You have to want them to get past the issues and fall madly in love. Instead I wanted to shake Julia for being a moron with this plan and Nick for just being about 90 percent awful throughout the book.
When Nick eventually realizes that Julia has done he takes it upon himself to banish her to the country and the time jumps in the story became ridiculous. I think from start to finish this book took place over a year.
The secondary characters are not that interesting. This book also seems intent on positioning one of the characters as the main character in the next series.
The writing was fine, I just did not care for Nick and honestly think he got off too lightly in this.
"The display shocked Julia. Scandalous yet strangely alluring, the performance served as a reminder that her husband’s life was a world away from her own sheltered existence in London."
FYI, she's a virgin at this point. I don't even get what was happening here.
"His black hair a bit long, it fell down around his collar to frame his perfect features: a straight nose, bold cheekbones, and a full mouth. He was truly breathtaking."
FYI, she is thinking this while watching him fondle another woman who is also "pleasuring herself" while everyone watches.
"If Colton’s odious cousin, Lord Templeton, followed through on his recent threat to further reduce her stipend, in a few months she wouldn’t have enough funds to pay the servants or the rent on their small house in Mayfair. Colton’s mother had made it clear Julia was unwelcome at any of the ducal properties. Which meant she and her aunt would be destitute. Julia needed a male child, a legitimate one, to serve as the heir to the Colton estate."
Another thing that kills me about this dumb plan, what if she happened to have a girl? She does get that a baby is not automatically going to be a boy because she wants one right??
"God, it had hurt. But it was done—and he hadn’t noticed. Julia felt a surge of triumph, a roar of feminine power at the success. Now the pain was receding, just as Pearl said it would, and a strange new sensation, one of delicious fullness, dawned."
Of course we get the best first time ever scene. Courtney Milan has been the only who has ever written a first time scene that felt realistic to me in a romance book.
The flow was up and down and that is really because of the time jumps. We go from a month, to maybe two months and all of sudden it's 9 months later.
The book setting moves from Italy (which barely felt real at all) to England. I hope you enjoy Nick saying tesorina and bellissima. In my head he said everything with a terrible accent.
The ending has a reveal that anyone that was paying attention could have guessed at and a happily ever after.
You can read Whiskey's review Hate the Hero.