Published by Entangled: Select on August 26th 2014
Purchase: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo
Miss Suri Thurston knows the pain of abandonment. Intent on confronting the grandmother who tossed her to the lions, she travels from England to her birthplace in India. Her plans run afoul when she encounters the man who, ten years prior, left a mark on her soul with one stolen kiss. But he is a duke, and far beyond the reach of even her dreams.
The Duke of Ravenswood, secret head of the British Foreign Service, has no time for relationships. His one goal is to locate and eliminate key insurgents involved in an uprising against the British East India Company before it's too late. But when Suri appears in Delhi, his resolve is tested as he finds his heart forever bound to her by the one haunting kiss they shared once upon a time.
With Suri's vengeful Indian family looking for her death, and insurgents intent on mutiny tearing their world apart, can their love rise above the scandal of the marriage they both desperately want?
~~Reviewed by AnnMarie~~
A Duke’s Wicked Kiss is the first book I have read by Kathleen Bittner Roth. The first, but definitely not the last if this book is any indication of how good her books are.
This is the story of Suri Thurston. She is an illegitimate daughter whose father was an English man who had an affair with a beautiful Indian woman. For a child to be born half-caste in India, and illegitimate to boot was a huge disgrace to the family, and to make sure that nobody would find out about Suri’s birth, her grandmother had her sent to the lions, literally. Her mother had died in child birth. Thankfully Suri was rescued and her father and his wife brought her up as an equal to her sister, Marguerite, and two brothers. After her father’s death Suri is determined to find her grandmother and any other relatives from that side of the family. He had forbidden her to do so before, and gave her very little information about her mother. After his death Sure isn’t beholden to his wishes any more, so she goes to India with every hope of finding the woman who was capable of sending a baby to it’s death.
When that has been settled she fully intends to return to England and with the funds her father left her she wants to set up a school and home for other children who are also half-caste. Nobody knows better than she what it feels like to belong to neither one race or another. She doesn’t believe anybody will want to marry her, besides which, her children would also be ridiculed and she would not allow that to happen. Much safer to never marry and have children. What better way to spend her money and her time than looking after children that are suffering the same way she has and does.
When she arrives in India she runs into John Fairfax, the man who gave her her first ever mind blowing kiss. She hasn’t seen him since that kiss, but she has never forgotten him, and she finds him just as handsome as he was 10 years ago. John is now the Duke of Ravenswood since his older brother passed away. Unfortunately John believes him to have been murdered in India, and while there, working as a Spy in Her Majesty’s Foreign Service, trying to foil an uprising from the Indians against the British, he intends to find out who murdered his brother.
All fingers point to Ravi Maurya, who also, unknown to John, is Suri’s cousin. He is the one she has found who has promised her a meeting with her grandmother. The meeting is to take place at a wedding. There is huge unrest in India and John and Marguerite’s husband want the women to return to England sooner rather than later. Suri’s determination to meet her grandmother, which is a secret to all, makes her refuse to leave until after the wedding. Her sister won’t leave without her. So they both end up staying, and they both end up in grave danger. In Suri’s case she isn’t just in danger from the uprising Indian’s either.
While all this skullduggery is going on, and with danger so close, a relationship begins to form between John and Suri. They are both still hugely attracted to each other and have been since that one hot kiss 10 years ago. Suri wants to fight the attraction because she knows she can never marry, whereas John doesn’t give two hoots about her being half-caste. Will he be able to make her see that she is the perfect woman for him, will he even have chance to? With the uprising afoot, and other dangers that face Suri, they might not get the chance to take their relationship any further.
I absolutely adored this book. From the very first kiss between John and Suri I was hooked. I love that although some of the story is set in England, a lot of it is set in India. Reading about the hopefully archaic reactions to half-caste children, and also a great deal about life in India was enlightening. I loved also reading about the beautiful saris the women wore, and even how to drape one around oneself. The descriptions of the country and it’s people was absolutely captivating. And I especially loved reading about the cheetah that John raised from a baby to adulthood that is now his faithful pet and guard. The author did her research and it showed.
This book was jam packed with so many exciting plots; the relationship between John and Suri, the uprising in India, Suri’s plans to meet her family, not to mention learning all about John’s youngest brother Edward, and the problems he has endured since his brother left home. There was never a dull moment in the book and I couldn’t read it quickly enough to see how it could possibly end happily!
I voluntarily read an Advanced Reader’s Copy of this book.