The duke described in our title is Alexander Moncrieffe, and he's out for a little revenge sex. Because, you see, Ian Eversea almost slept with Moncrieffe's (now ex) fiance, and so Moncrieffe thinks that the perfect revenge will be to deflower and abandon Ian's beloved sister, Genevieve. Genevieve, however, proves to be more than a match for the duke in terms of intelligence and perceptiveness, and he finds he feels some real emotion for her. Not to mention that Genevieve is feeling a bit melancholy, and nursing a broken heart after Harry (her best friend, and the love of her young life), tells her that he plans to propose to another girl.
There are a lot of good things to be said for this book, but many of them can't be said in a spoiler free review. What I can say, in general terms, is that I really loved the characters, and as a result I really enjoyed their romance. I loved Genevieve for her quiet wittiness. I loved how misunderstood she was--seemingly shy and plain, but secretly in possession of very strong and passionate feelings. We learn this when she describes her love for art, and for brightly colored flowers, and so forth. Her family and friends never see her in this light, but the duke does. Moncrieffe is an older hero, and he's loved and lost before. I loved how good he was at reading and knowing people.
I love the rest of the cast, too. I though Ian was rather hilarious. Like many very young men, he's all sex drive and no sense. Harry annoyed me a bit, but again much of his flawed character can be attributed to immaturity and inexperience, and I feel that he could easily be redeemed once he grows up a bit. Initially Harry seems like a good match for Genevieve, but once you get to know them you realize that they aren't quite on the same playing field. Genevieve is ready to be challenged by love and enter a commitment, while Harry is still dealing in crushes and mind games as one does in high school.
I liked the touches of humor in this book. From the witty thoughts of our main characters, to the silly behaviors of our side characters, there's a great deal to make the reader smile.