Review: The Duke’s Perfect Wife by Jennifer Ashley

The Duke's Perfect Wife (Highland Pleasures, #4)The Dukes Perfect Wife by Jennifer Ashley (Highland Pleasures #4)
Historical Romance
April 3, 2012

Reviewed by Mandi

I adore these Mackenzie boys, and Hart’s book was a much-anticipated read for me. Hart is so … Hart. Arrogant, powerful, wealthy, and in love with Eleanor. I think the opening paragraph of the book explains Hart quite well:

Hart Mackenize.

It was said that he knew every pleasure a woman desired and exactly how to give it to her. Hart wouldn’t ask what the lady wanted, and she might not even know herself, but she would understand once he’d finished. And she’d want it again.

Hart was once in love with Eleanor Ramsay. So in love, they were engaged. But then Eleanor was confronted with Hart’s former mistress and learned of Hart’s dark, erotic ways that would take place in a separate house. Eleanor didn’t like what she heard or how Hart treated these women. It was too much, and she broke the engagement. Devastated, Hart has been set on getting her back.

Hart has much more going on, though, besides winning back Eleanor. He is working hard to become the next prime minister, setting goals for himself and achieving them as only Hart can. But when Eleanor makes a surprise appearance in his life, it throws him off track.

Eleanor has been anonymously sent a picture of a much younger Hart – naked. She knows this could spell trouble for the very public duke. She learns Hart posed for many of these types of photos with his former mistress, so she drops into his life with a proposition: She will hunt down the remaining erotic photos, if he pays her a small salary. Eleanor and her father do not have much to live on, and she needs money. Hart now realizes that Eleanor is close within his reach, and will refuse to let her go no matter what.

He actually had plans to marry her once he became prime minister. Hart is extremely goal-oriented. He plans every detail, he steers everyone in his family and he expects everything to be done according to his wishes. When Eleanor shows up, it throws him off. But he still knows he wants her above everything else.

Eleanor is a wonderful heroine who is very smart and witty, and seems happy in her life, even if she is more destitute than is comfortable. As with all the books in this series, this book is very sensual. The sexual tension is high and stays high through most of the book.

There are two points I was disappointed in. First of all, Eleanor breaks her engagement with Hart when she learns of the house he keeps where his more kinky side is explored. Now, he gave up his mistress and supposed kinky side the day he met Eleanor. But Eleanor was very disappointed in how he was treating these women, and I think his behavior might have shocked her, so she decided to leave him. I don’t think her acceptance of this type of behavior and her coming to terms with her feelings about it were explored very well. They both definitely still love each other, but I wanted Eleanor to come to terms with WHY she left Hart before she decided to have her happily ever after with him.

Also, along these lines – when I say Hart has a kinky side – I mean Hart has a KINKY side. If you have read the first book in this series, The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie, you know that Hart likes to perform asphyxiation while having sex. This is pretty hard-core. Has he completely left this lifestyle behind? We don’t know. In this book, Hart mentions his darker needs and how he has always had to hold back with Eleanor, implying that maybe one day he would like to try something with Eleanor. I kept waiting for something to come of this. And I was quite let down by what we get (or don’t get). Hart does imply to Eleanor that he likes to be more dominant, and shows her by tying her wrists together with his cravat. The scene is somewhat lackluster. I was very intrigued by this dark, erotic side of Hart and really wish we would have dived into this. It could have been so very intriguing. Instead, it is brushed over quickly.

I still really liked this book. I love the entire Mackenize family, and they all make appearances. And, like I say every book, Ian steals every scene. In this one, Ian gets a lot of page time. Ian and Hart have a very special, close relationship, and I think Jennifer Ashley takes her time exploring it – and it is well done.

Rating: B

Recent Reviews
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The Book Pushers – A
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Fiction Vixen – B-

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Note: This book first appeared at USA Today’s HEA Blog.


  1. says

    Oh, Ian. I feel the same way. I just eat up every page with him on it.

    I was a tad disappointed with the whole kinky side thing. When he was finally able to unleash it onto Eleanor I was kind of like, what?? That was it?? It seemed like it was built up to be more that it really was.

  2. Lege Artis says

    Great review, Mandy! You said everything I thought about it; those two points were little let down for me too. I was craving to read how Hart get his freak on and it didn’t happened. “It was said that he knew every pleasure a woman desired and exactly how to give it to her”- well, Hart, pleasure I desired was that you explore those dark needs, darn!
    Ian’s book is my favorite, actually it’s in my top 3 historical romances ever, so naturally I liked Ian in this book. He was adorable and his relationship with Hart was masterly done.
    Looking forward to next Highland Pleasure book!

    • Mandi says

      Haha…that’s right. Hart SO didn’t pleasure US! Damn you Hart. But no – I think we were all waiting on his kinky side to at least be explored or addressed…and it wasn’t. But otherwise I really liked everything else about this book. And I can’t wait for the next one.

      • Lege Artis says

        :) I’m always back to read comments. And I love your site.
        #1 is Unraveled by Courtney Milan and I have a good reason for it. I’m working in DA’s office and I believe that sentence should fit the crime considering all the relevant facts. In reality, it doesn’t work like that always. So, Smite’s reasoning is like dirty talk for me. :)
        #2 is Dreaming of You from Lisa Kleypas. I know this is everyone’s favorite book and Derek is favorite hero. But I don’t love it because of Derek, but because of Sara. Derek was described as devilishly handsome, tough and strong man, but Sara was for me the bravest person in this book. She was the one who risked everything for uncertainty that is Derek, because she saw something in him. Although, she was in love with him, I didn’t think that was the main reason she broke up her engagement as often is in romances. She understood that if she married Perry she will lose herself; that she will not write another book, and she didn’t want to stop doing something that she loves.

        • Mandi says

          Oh this makes me smile. Unraveled is one of my all time favorite books. And I adored Dreaming of You as well. And what a great point about Sarah. It has been a long time since I read that book, it needs to have a reread :)

          For me it has to be Lord Ian, Unraveled and Slightly Dangerous by Mary Balogh – the final book in her slightly series – where I could not wait to see Wulfric get his HEA. (Also – anything by Joanna Bourne…)

          • Lege Artis says

            Everybody tells me that Slightly Dangerous is a must read. But, I have this thing for reading series in order and I’m almost over with Slightly Tempted… So many books, so little time.::sigh::
            Joanna Bourne, Courtney Milan, Elizabeth Hoyt and Meredith Duran are autobuy for me. Whatever they write, I will buy. They can’t make it wrong. When I got my paperback of Hawker’s book I did my happy dance. And, it didn’t disappoint, Adrian is one of the best romance heroes out there.

  3. says

    See, I was surprisingly disappointed with this book. I keep saying, I think Cam had more skeletons in his closet than Hart… and was more interesting for it.

    There’s a big part of me that finished the book thinking Eleanor and Hart went into their marriage with more secrets than when they started. Nothing about Hart’s supposedly dark, kinky tastes is resolved or really accepted – it’s just left to linger. Brushed over, like you said.

    I also think Ashley brushed over the topic of Mrs. Palmer. I too expected Eleanor to have more to say on the matter of Hart’s mistress – especially because Eleanor is sent proof of Hart’s happiness with Mrs Palmer in the form of those photos, in which Hart is smiling and carefree. I could not believe Eleanor didn’t want to know more about Hart’s feelings for Mrs Palmer, especially when he went back to her after their broken engagement eight years ago…

    All in all, Hart’s much-anticipated book read like a pink elephant in the room. Now I’m looking forward to Daniel’s.

    • Mandi says

      When I finished the book, those two points were definitely on my mind. But I also really enjoyed Hart and Eleanor together. I waffled back and forth on this one a lot. If she had explored Mrs Palmer and Hart’s dark side more, this would have been such an amazing book.

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