The second in the series of our Avon Romance Virtual Book Club was The Duke and the Lady in Red by Lorraine Heath.
When Rosalind Sharpe gains the attention of the deliciously wicked Duke of Avendale, she’s torn between her distracting attraction to the notorious rogue and the knowledge that he—rich as Croesus—is the perfect target for a deception that will put her swindling days behind her.
However Avendale is no fool. After he discovers the tantalizing lady packing up to leave London with his coins in tow, he confronts her with a scandalous proposition: she can have all the money she requires…for a week in his bed.
Desperate for the funds, Rose agrees, but on one condition: he must never question her motives. Avendale quickly sees beneath her mask and discovers she is more than passion and pleasure—she is everything he has ever desired. But claiming her requires he unveil her secrets and lose her forever. Unless he can put his own dark past aside and risk everything for a chance at love.
We asked our trusty reviewers to share their thoughts on this dark romance.
“Where to begin. This story is yet another new experience for me, as historical romances are a genre I have yet to explore. And let me just say I am glad this one was my first.
With all the secrets and suspense that Heath doesn’t just keep from the characters but the readers aswell it made me want to turn the pages faster and faster till those secrets were revealed. A powerful story not just of love but of beautiful friendships and emotional spirals that you cannot help but fall into the story with such dedication that you want to be in the story with the characters.
And I cannot believe how much I cried; this book could give the fault in our stars a bit of competition as I fell in love with Harry at the very moment he was introduced and throughout his last adventures. Even the last line in the book had me in uncontrollable tears and as I write this I get emotional just being reminded of poor Harry.
This book teaches you to love who you are and to accept others as they appear so as to discover the hidden beauty within. So thank Lorraine Heath for this marvellous tale and I am glad to have gotten to know both Rose and Avendale.”
– Danielle J
“I was a little apprehensive when starting this book as it is the final book in a series, a new author to me and a historical title, which I rarely read, so I had no idea what to expect. What I found was an enchanting tale with larger than life characters, intriguing mysteries woven through their interactions and a need to discover what exactly everyone’s motives were and to get to the bottom of what was going on.
I absolutely loved this book, some books touch you in a way that you know they’ll stay with you and this is one of them. I cried, big ugly tears but I also felt the love and acceptance and let’s face it, that’s what we all want in the end. I really liked the main characters, Rose and Avendale, but for me it was their interactions with those around them that captured my heart. I loved the diversity of the characters and how the author made me fall in love with them all, from the gruff Merrick to the gentle Harry, I was rooting for everybody to get their happy ever after. The main story was thoroughly enjoyable too, I couldn’t wait to read each chapter to discover just what would happen between Rose and Avendale. I enjoyed their early interactions, but as we got to know them better and their secrets came to light, I truly got invested in them and their stories. I would definitely read more books by Lorraine Heath.”
– Michelle M
“I was very surprised to find I actually enjoyed this book. Two flawed people finding love and acceptance. Like all romance novels nothing is ever as straight forward as it seems and it’s just the same with this one.
The main characters are well rounded and the voices sound real and unforced like some romance novels. Lorraine Heath has a flair to her writing that makes reading it so easy.”
– Nikki B
“I was nicely surprised by this book and very much enjoyed the story it told. Historical romance is not a genre I usually read so naturally I was a bit apprehensive about leaving my comfort zone but I am very glad I did!
There is a certain amount of mystery to the main characters that nicely carries on throughout the book as they both try to keep their pasts secret. We learn the truth as we get further in and watch the characters grow.
Rose is a very brave women, who sacrifices a lot for love. There is a very realistic quality to her and how she sees herself compared to how others see her.
Avendale is interesting because no matter what he does for others he always manages to convince himself that he is doing it for his own selfish needs…until he is forced to face his feelings.
I must admit that my favourite character is actually one of the secondary characters. His story is one that most of us have heard before, in variations, but the way in which it was written in this novel was very moving and I freely admit that I shed a few tears for him at some parts.
I would recommend this book, in fact I already have mentioned it to a few people I know, and I will definitely be re-reading it in the future.”
– Sarah C
“I have to admit it took me a while to get into this book. I don’t normally go for historical romances but I was pulled into this one, wanting to find out what was going to happen between Rose and Avendale, what she was keeping secret and how everything would turn out.
When Rosalind Sharpe meets the Duke of Avendale, she sees her next con, one that will set her up for a while, but she gets far more than she bargained for when she falls for him. The Duke of Avendale knows from the moment he sees the woman in red that he has to have her, and the fact that she doesn’t seem to want him makes her even more attractive to him. Theirs is a journey full of lies and secrets and I became pulled in trying to unravel understand them.
I loved the interactions between Rose and the Duke, the way their relationship developed and how invested in it I became. The further I found myself in the story and the more of the Duke’s character that was revealed, the more intrigued I became. The Duke is not the man everybody believes him to be and the kindness and care that he shows for Rose and her brother made me like him all the more. This is not just a love story between Rose and the Duke, but also a story of the love Rose has for her brother and the small family she has created, as well as the affection that the Duke shows to Rose’s brother.
I kept finding myself on the verge of tears when Harry was fully introduced to the story, from his situation and the way in which he handles it, to what he has to go through in his life and the excitement that he derives from the little things. Rose’s love for her brother and willingness to protect him at all costs, mixed with The Duke’s kindness extended to him really touched me and the tears were flowing by the end. It makes for a brilliant read.
Heath has delivered brilliant characters, a charming love story along with some heartbreak and an exciting back story, all rolled together to create a book I really enjoyed. I will definitely be broadening my to-be-read pile to include more of her books.”
– Jennifer K
“Wow, wow, wow – this book is awesome! If you’re looking for a fresh and passionate historical romance with engaging writing then this is the kind of book you need.
This book is the third in Lorraine Heath’s ‘Scandalous Gentlemen of St. James Place’ series but there’s no need to have read the first two book to read, understand and enjoy this one. I can guarantee that once you’ve finished this book you’ll want to go back and read the first two if you haven’t already.
The whole story was exciting, interesting and surprisingly emotional. How I cried! I adored the interactions between Rose and Avendale – both are flawed characters but with great strength and depth. You can’t help but love them both and will them both to work things out with each other
For a story that is packed with great characters, heartbreaking emotion and passionate forever kind of love, then I would highly recommend this story. Lorraine Heath is a genius in historical romance.”
– Joanna L
“A fantastic story of a lady in need. The ups and downs of her life and the love of her life. made me smile, laugh at times also made me cry a little. spell-binding from the first page until the last. Many thanks for a lot of enjoyment Lorraine Heath”
– Helen S
Thank you once again to all of our readers who gave us their insightful thoughts on The Duke and the Lady in Red by Lorraine Heath, which can be purchased here. If you wish to become a member of the Avon Romance Virtual Book Club, drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll be glad to get you involved!
June Book Club title: All of Me by Jennifer Bernard.