Speaking of doing you, this book-- THE DUKE'S FORBIDDEN WARD-- was so good. Between Millie Adams and Caitlin Crews, I'm amazed that the editing department of HQN isn't constantly ablaze, because these authors know how to do SPICE. And despite the silly-ish sounding title, this is such a richly emotional story. Eleanor is the ward of Hugh, a duke. Her father was a merchant so this sudden rise in station is a huge boon that allows possibilities for her that she never would have had otherwise. And she knows this and is grateful for it, but it's still not enough, because what she wants above all else is Hugh.
Hugh is the eldest son of a libertine. His whole childhood was spent watching his sickly younger sister be ignored by his father, who also just as eagerly ran around on his mother. Because of this, he has vowed to never be like his father and kept his kinkier side closely under wraps, beneath multiple sheets of icy restraint. But Eleanor tests this restraint. Because she is beautiful, yes, but also because she sees him in a way that nobody else really has: not for his money or his title, but as the lonely, caring man he is, who locks himself away because he can't stand to be loved by the people he loves in return.
This is no Fifty Shades of Grey but there is definitely some mild BDSM. The author fits it into the story really well, and the sex is part of the characters' emotional development for one another. Eleanor is quite feminist, but in a way that feels realistic. She knows a lot about sex because her father's mistress confided in her out of kindness. Being so perilously close to ruin makes it feel easier for her to ruin herself with Hugh. All of her behaviors made sense within the context of the story. I also liked how the OW drama resolved (very mild). It was bittersweet and satisfying, and I loved that. The peek at the other relationships in this book, established in books one and two, were super fun and made me desperate to read the rest of this trilogy (spoiler: I already bought book one).
Thanks so much Heather for recommending this book to me! This was a *chef's kiss* read and provided the perfect balance of sexiness and romance.
4 to 4.5 out of 5 stars