Sunday, March 8, 2015

The Courtesan Duchess by Joanna Shupe

This is Joanna Shupe's debut novel and first in the "Wicked Deceptions" series.  I requested it because I thought the synopsis on NetGalley was interesting.  When I started reading the book, I found it was captivating from the first paragraph to the end and the synopsis does not do the book justice.  The only thing that was accurate were the two quotes from the other authors.  I loved it so much that I went to the B&N website and pre-ordered it.   If I read paper books, it would sit in the front of my shelf so I could grab it when I wanted to reread it.

Eight years ago, Julia was forced to marry Nicholas Seaton, the Duke of Colton.  As soon as they said their vows, he left England.  His smarmy cousin, Lord Templeton, has been decreasing her allowance and the last time he did, he told her she needs to perform "favors".  In a desperate state, Julia sells the remaining jewelry she owned to hire London's premiere courtesan, Pearl Kelly, to teach her how to seduce her husband.  Julia travels to Venice with her husbands best friend, Simon Barrett, the Earl of Winchester.  In Venice, she poses as his mistress, Mrs. Juliet Leighton.  Her goal is to seduce him and get pregnant with his heir so she doesn't end up in debtor's prison.

Nick earned every bit off his nickname the "Depraved Duke".  His seduction of Julia borders on erotica.  Not your average Historical Romance.  All of the characters from Nick and Julia to Aunt Theo and Fitz were so well written that the supporting characters didn't feel like supporting characters.  I loved Simon almost as much as Nick.  But, I will admit there were times that I wish I could have reached into the book and slapped Nick for being so stupid.  Just because he was the "unwanted child" didn't mean that he could treat Julia as he did.  While Julia's attempt to seduce her husband and have his heir was the main plot, there was a subplot that revolved around little "accidents"  When it was resolved, I was surprised.  I never would have guessed.  

I think the only thing that I wish had been included was Nick tracking down the jewelry Julia had to sell and giving it to her.

I am a bit confused because this is Joanna's first novel yet she won the Romance Writers of America's Golden Heart Award for Best Historical in 2013.  Did it take two years for this book to be released.  That is a darn shame.

I received this book as an ARC from NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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