Title: Last Night with the Duke
Series: The Rakes of St. James #1
Author: Amelia Grey
Format: Paperback & eBook, 304pgs
Published: Mar. 7, 2017 by St. Martin’s
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N
Rating: 1.5 out of 5 Wine Glasses
Could finding love be his greatest scandal of all?
The Duke of Griffin has never lived down his reputation as one of the Rakes of St. James. Now rumors are swirling that his twin sisters may bear the brunt of his past follies. Hiring a competent chaperone is the only thing Griffin has on his mind--until he meets the lovely and intriguing Miss Esmeralda Swift. In ways he could never have expected, she arouses more than just his curiosity.
Esmeralda Swift considered herself too sensible to ever fall for a scoundrel, but that was before she met the irresistibly seductive Duke of Griffin. His employment offer proves too tempting for her to resist. She can’t afford to be distracted by his devilish charms because the stakes are so high for his sisters’ debut Season. . .unless one of London’s most notorious rakes has had a change of heart and is ready to make Esmeralda his bride?
Esmeralda is a viscount's granddaughter but after her mother was disowned by the family for marrying an Irish poet, she finds herself overseeing a chaperone and governess business.
Griffin might have been a wild youth, but as the Duke and head of the family now, he wants nothing to go wrong when his twin sisters make their debut.
With the possibility of someone out to hurt Griffin's sisters he hires Esmeralda as their chaperone, thinking she has the fortitude to keep them out of mischief.
Sisters, dogs, young bucks, and finding love in a surprising place will make this a season Griffin and Esmeralda won't forget.
"Surrender, Miss Swift. I have won this battle."
Last Night With the Duke is the first in a series and introduces us to Griffin and Esmeralda. I found the beginning to be a very slow start with their first conversation taking 20-30% of the story. There was also a feeling of insta-lust/love as they were both very physically attracted to one another immediately. The slow start feed into a very slow half, the story doesn't really get going until the second part. The whole point of Griffin hiring Esmeralda is to keep his sisters in line and safe during their season debut. When Griffin younger, he and his two other Duke friends (the author acknowledges the stretch it would be to have three young and unmarried dukes at one time) committed a prank where they set up a situation where debutantes were tested to see if they would show up to meet a secret admirer. There's a rumor going around that someone is still upset over how that might have affected a debutante and is going to ruin Griffin's sisters to get back at him.
This was a good plot to create some mystery, it's brought up and worried about by Griffin, but then that was it. The danger, villain, or storyline never came to fruition and fizzled at the end. With the mystery plot not going anywhere I turned to the romance. I'm personally not a fan of insta-lust/love, so I started off on the wrong foot with this one. I also never thought Griffin and Esmeralda spent enough time together to develop any sort of relationship. Griffin was instantly an invader of Esmeralda's space and by their third conversation he was rubbing his nose against hers but since they didn't have any emotional connection, the tension felt off and misplaced. This also could have been a personal issue too, but since Esmeralda worked for Griffin, the unequal power dynamic gave his looming an uncomfortable feel.
The secondary characters of Griffin's sisters seemed nice if a little airy and spoiled while Esmeralda's younger sister seemed kind of bratty to me. Her attitude at times was obviously allowed to create angst and emotion but for me, I would have sent her to her room more than once. Griffin's friends are obviously introduced and set-up for books of their own, they didn't make a strong appearance but they were genial enough.
The biggest problem I had with this book was that I felt it was slow and nothing seemed to be happening until the very end when the last 10% rushed to wrap up the plots. Except for a very, very at the end bedroom scene, this was an extremely clean read with just a few kisses, which bedroom closed readers may appreciate.