Forbidden to Love the Duke by Jillian Hunter

February 17, 2015
"Sing Johnny One-Note,
Sing out with "gusto" and
Just overwhelm all the crowd
- Rogers and Hart

After I had finished reading this book, I had to sit back and ponder/contemplate/reflect on why this book was a failure for me.  Lately, Jillian Hunter has been hit or miss - I loved her early books, but her latest works have made me yearn for days gone by.

I will be blunt: this book was like watching a play with actors who are wandering all over the stage trying to find their marks. I had an issue with the narrative and numerous times found myself backtracking to see if I had missed something. Coupled with that was a bonehead hero who stepped on every single one of my nerves.

We have our heroine, Ivy Fenwick, the eldest of the four Fenwick sisters and the Fenwick series starter. When Ivy was at her masked debut ball she was kissed by an obnoxious, "I want you, you want me" guy who was going to war the next day. Of course, he turns out to be our hero, James the Duke of Ellsworth. However, things happen to Ivy that night besides the kiss - her father is accused of cheating and is shot in a duel. This leaves the Fenwick sisters destitute and isolated in a rundown Tutor cottage until five years after the ball when our hero spies the cottage and wants it for his soon-to-be mistress. When he steps onto the Fenwick land, he is run off by the four sisters. So, he goes to his estate where he finds that his brother Curtis' children have been dumped there. Well, he's about to have a visit from his soon to be mistress, Elora, so he can't have kids getting underfoot. He puts an ad in the paper for a governess. Guess who needs the job/money? Yep, Ivy. Now, because James wants Ivy and he knows that Ivy wants him, he hires her... even though his mistress is on the way.

But before Ivy can start her duties, she must go to London to buy a proper governess dress. She takes her beauteous sister Rue with her. Ah, Rue with the dark sultry eyes and dark ink hair. Rue disappears down the hallway and then returns and is downcast and silent and never tells Ivy what happened. Ivy sells her mother's pearls at a pawn shop and meets Sir Oliver Lindon, a poet who allll the ladies are gaga over. Except Ivy, who doesn't seem to notice him, which triggers Oliver's interest. He must follow Ivy back to Fenwick. Besides, he may find buried treasure there.

The Dukes house. Ivy and James are now residing at the same place. They have a talk. James tells Ivy that he wants her and he can tell that she wants him because she has a heaving bosom.

Back at the Fenwicks. Lilac, the youngest sister, has a limp and is in love with their long-lost neighbor boy. She also likes Sir Oliver Lindon and thinks his poems are the cat’s meow. But, she can never luuuvvv another.

Back at the Duke's, Ivy teaches the cardboard children Mary and Walker. James talks to Ivy. He tells her he wants her and knows that she wants him. His neighbor friend Captain Alan Wendover comes over and he and James go fishing.

Over at the Fenwicks', Rosemary, the sister with the ink-stained hands, is struggling to write a book. She likes to read it out loud to everyone. Rue is walking around quietly.

Back at the estate, James' mistress, Elora, turns up. Low and behold, Elora is an old acquaintance of Ivy's. Elora questions James' honorable intentions toward Ivy and sulks because James is no longer interested in her. But that's ok because Elora's always been in love with James' brother Curtis, but because she couldn't have the man she loved she thought it would be kind of fun to go to bed with his brother. James and Ivy go for a walk. He tells her he wants her and he knows she wants him. Ivy gets a dry mouth.

Back at the Fenwicks', Sir Oliver is staying at the guest house or something and Rue has applied for a job as a companion to some Viscountess. Rue is pale and silent. Sir Oliver is searching for treasure and being annoyed by Rosemary.

Back at the estate, Captain Wendover is watching Ivy and James with a knowing eye, giving out sage advice whenever he's not fishing. James has almost broken down Ivy's resistance. He knows that she is almost ready for him because he sees her ripe breasts and has touched her copious moisture. It won't be too long now. If only Ivy knew that James' Mr. Toad had a knob on it, maybe she would have been less copious. You know when I look at the doorknobs in my home and think of James' knob the hair on the back of my neck just stands up on end. But then maybe James needs some kind of battering ram, because Ivy seems to be one of those Romanceland heroines who have a barrier all the way up to her diaphragm. He has to "drive" a long distance to get through.

Curtis comes home. He only has one eye. There's a party. Ivy and James get married. Curtis is struck dumb by the beauty of the Fenwick sisters, especially Rue. Rue brings her employer to the party. Oliver kills a man and stops looking for treasure. The end.

This story was sooooo convoluted. It had people coming and going all over the place. Plotlines for upcoming books were not just set up, but almost completed. There was just too much going on. The different characters' narratives were never seamlessly woven together. There was toooo much information given as to who does what to whom and when that the main romance in the book was overlooked in the shuffle. And James only played one note throughout the entire book which was "he wants Ivy and she wants him." James was a self-important know-it-all who thought only of himself allllll the way through this story. Even though Ivy was a cardboard character, I liked her more than I did our Bonehead hero, James.

Time/Place: Regency England
Sensuality: Creepily Hot

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