The Duke I Tempted by Scarlett Peckham (Secrets of Charlotte Streets #1)
Released: July 31, 2018
Reviewed by Mandi
The Duke of Westmead,who also goes by Archer, is in need of a wife. Aren’t all dukes?? Archer doesn’t want a wife, he doesn’t even want a lover. He hasn’t kissed or slept with a woman in thirteen years! (Are we perking up now?). After tragedy strikes all those years ago, Archer doesn’t know how to handle his grief and turns to a woman who runs a very secretive business in her house – she whips, strikes, hits him and brings him the pain his mind and body need to focus and live his life. Archer visits this woman every so often as he craves the pain when the world gets too tough.
The girl left him, and he went through the ritual he had perfected over a decade’s attendance in these chambers. From the shelves along the wall, he scanned Elena’s wares. Leather straps, cat-o’-nine-tails, all manner of restraints. As always, he gathered the crisp rods of birch, kept pliant and green in a shallow tub of water, and an elegant braided whip with golden tails. He laid them neatly on a velvet cloth left for that purpose on a sideboard, and folded his clothes beside them. Nude but for his linen shirt, he knelt, facing the wall, to wait for her.
But now he needs an heir, and he knows he must marry. He meets Poppy Cavendish as his sister prepares for a big ball to find him a wife. Poppy has a passion for plants, trees specifically. Her uncle left her a cottage, and she has great plans for a large nursery – but money is a concern and moving all of her plants there is a concern. Archer’s sister begs Poppy to decorate the ball room for the ball, but Poppy hesitates. She isn’t really into decorating with flowers, but the amount of money and attention that could come out of this job would greatly help Poppy out. She decides to decorate it in a forest theme, and pulls it off. All the while, she meets and starts to spend time with Archer, who starts out cold and distant but there is definitely an attraction between them. The sexual tension is done really well…
A man with more talent for self-preservation would have removed himself from the vicinity of Poppy Cavendish immediately. He would have noted the sight of her on his sofa in front of his fire and the effect it was having on him and discovered a sudden urgent need to balance the estate accounts or rekindle his boyhood love for conjugating Latin.
He would not have moved a pile of books so he could look directly into her eyes as he said: “Cavendish, what I wanted was a very different type of kiss.”
He would not have leaned into her ear and whispered: “And if you don’t want to be embarrassed, I’ll spare you what I wanted when your thighs were wrapped around me on my horse.”
A man who did not want to drown would have gotten up the second she had whispered back: “And what do you want right now?”
He would not have answered: “This.” And put his mouth on hers with the force of all the hunger he had been fighting since the moment he first saved her from the blasted plumeria in her bloody greenhouse.
Archer realizes that he could marry Poppy in a business arrangement. He can provide her with all the funds to make however a grand nursery she wants, and she can provide him an heir – and they can just be on their merry way. It takes Poppy some time to agree to this, but the lure of a wealthy independence is too much to pass up. They are wed….and things get messy.
I love that things get messy – it’s one of the reasons I love a marriage of convenience or a marriage in trouble story. The messiness after they are legally stuck together. Poppy and Archer are friends and respect each other at the start of their marriage. They even enjoy sex and Poppy finds she is quite passionate and assertive in the bedroom. But things don’t stay this way. They don’t communicate well – Archer doesn’t open up about his tragic past or that he craves to be whipped. There are times that they both jump to the wrong conclusions and lash out.
Poppy can’t decide if she wants to fall in love with him or leave him. She is terrified that she has such strong feelings for him, and the same thing happens to Archer. Instead of talking it out, they fight and hurt each other and try to find their way back to happiness but it’s murky. I think this is the strongest part of the story. Their emotions are chaotic and run from passionate lovemaking to passionate fights – but love always finds a way and their journey is well done.
However, I do think this story started slow and dragged the first few chapters. I also think some events are rushed. The reason they marry seemed rushed. And when events play out with Archer’s cravings at the sex house, that felt a little too easily resolved. We needed more pages towards the end for Poppy to truly understand Archer’s desires and her role with that in the future.
I enjoyed this author’s voice and look forward to another book.