Erica Ridley offers another charming, witty, laugh out loud moments addition to her well-received 12 Dukes of Christmas series with The Duke’s Embrace. Eve Shelling is a journalist for the local newspaper in the village of Cressmouth, popularly known as Christmas. She yearns to be a true journalist, doing investigative reporting, rather than rehashing the same local news in the monthly publication. Her father opposes her wishes as he is the publisher of the Gazette and insists she writes happy stories about Christmas and its happenings and people. The local blacksmith and handsome dandy, Monsieur Sébastien le Duc, becomes captivated by Eve one day when she rebuffs him and walks away. He is very used to females fawning over him so Eve is quite unusual. Ms. Ridley did a wonderful job with how she portrayed the developing friendship between Eve and Bastien which was turning into something more than either expected. There are surprises and secrets which are revealed and challenges to overcome. Overall, this was a very romantic, sweet read. I’m looking forward to the next tale in the series, about Bastien’s brother, Lucien, and Miss Margaret Church. I was fortunate to receive an ARC of this work and voluntarily submit this review. All opinions stated are my own. I rate this work at 4 ½ stars with a mild heat level.
Less frivolous than the previous books in this series, this story nevertheless has laugh-out-loud moments interspersed with heartache and pain. Eve has an inquisitive mind and not being inclined to follow her father's dictates about what should go into the Cressmouth newspaper, she looks for ways in which to make the newspaper more interesting and relevant to the small town where Christmas is a year-round event. Despite keeping her distance, she keeps bumping into Bastien le Duc, the young Frenchman who has made Cressmouth his home. Bastien has a love for the finer things in life and with his quirky sense of fun and love for dashing clothing make him an interesting character. Eve has been fascinated by him for years, but her lack of self-confidence and focus on the newspaper have made her wary of being openly friendly. The Le Duc brothers have a driving need to return to France and reclaim their inheritance after the Reign of Terror and Bastien realises that Eve may, in fact, have the perfect solution for them to sell their forge. When the conflict between Eve and her father comes to a head, Bastien has to find a way in which to solve all their problems. I received a copy of this gentle romance as a gift and this is my honest and voluntary review.
The Duke’s Embrace by Erica Ridley is book 7 in the 12 Dukes of Christmas Series. I have loved each of Ridley’s stories. They can truly be read as stand-alone books. I think this hero was one of my favorites. Monsieur Sebastien le Duc is a dandy - an incredibly masculine dandy. That sets him apart from most Regency character heroes. In other books, a dandy ( someone who is unduly devoted to style and appearance) is generally seen as foppish. But in The Duke’s Embrace, Sebastien is an incredibly masculine blacksmith. “She let her gaze linger on the muscles of his upper arm, on the breadth of his strong shoulders, on the thrilling familiarity of his wide, firm mouth and how sensual it had felt against her own.” There is a very steamy sex scene. Looking forward to the next book in this series. I was given a copy of this book.