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How to seduce an estranged husband—and banish debt!—in four wickedly improper, shockingly pleasurable steps... 1. Learn the most intimate secrets of London’s leading courtesan. 2. Pretend to be a courtesan yourself, using the name Juliet Leighton. 3. Travel to Venice and locate said husband. 4. Seduce husband, conceive an heir, and voilà, your future is secure! For Julia, the How to seduce an estranged husband—and banish debt!—in four wickedly improper, shockingly pleasurable steps... 1. Learn the most intimate secrets of London’s leading courtesan. 2. Pretend to be a courtesan yourself, using the name Juliet Leighton. 3. Travel to Venice and locate said husband. 4. Seduce husband, conceive an heir, and voilà, your future is secure! For Julia, the Duchess of Colton, such a ruse promises to be foolproof. After all, her husband has not bothered to lay eyes on her in eight years, since their hasty wedding day when she was only sixteen. But what begins as a tempestuous flirtation escalates into full-blown passion—and the feeling is mutual. Could the man the Courtesan Duchess married actually turn out to be the love of her life?


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How to seduce an estranged husband—and banish debt!—in four wickedly improper, shockingly pleasurable steps... 1. Learn the most intimate secrets of London’s leading courtesan. 2. Pretend to be a courtesan yourself, using the name Juliet Leighton. 3. Travel to Venice and locate said husband. 4. Seduce husband, conceive an heir, and voilà, your future is secure! For Julia, the How to seduce an estranged husband—and banish debt!—in four wickedly improper, shockingly pleasurable steps... 1. Learn the most intimate secrets of London’s leading courtesan. 2. Pretend to be a courtesan yourself, using the name Juliet Leighton. 3. Travel to Venice and locate said husband. 4. Seduce husband, conceive an heir, and voilà, your future is secure! For Julia, the Duchess of Colton, such a ruse promises to be foolproof. After all, her husband has not bothered to lay eyes on her in eight years, since their hasty wedding day when she was only sixteen. But what begins as a tempestuous flirtation escalates into full-blown passion—and the feeling is mutual. Could the man the Courtesan Duchess married actually turn out to be the love of her life?

30 review for The Courtesan Duchess

  1. 4 out of 5

    Feminista

    What a disgusting plot. This is definitely one of the worst books I have ever read. The hero marries the heroine and then leaves her and sleeps with countless other women. The heroine being a good girl, remains faithful and a virgin and decides to beget an heir from her husband because while her husband is around gallivanting, she will do the right thing and not sleep with another man. Then the hero finds out that the courtesan he sleeps with is really his wife. He gets angry because he thinks tha What a disgusting plot. This is definitely one of the worst books I have ever read. The hero marries the heroine and then leaves her and sleeps with countless other women. The heroine being a good girl, remains faithful and a virgin and decides to beget an heir from her husband because while her husband is around gallivanting, she will do the right thing and not sleep with another man. Then the hero finds out that the courtesan he sleeps with is really his wife. He gets angry because he thinks that she was not a virgin when she came to him and that she is carrying another man's baby. He tells her that she won't give the bastard that she is carrying his name. So what, his wife is supposed to die a virgin? Not be with any other man, but remain faithful to him until the end of her days, while he is out sleeping with god knows how many women and doing god knows what. What was really disgusting was that after a little sex, the heroine fell in love with him. I am not kidding. A little sex and everything is all love and sunshine and puppies. Forget about the way he treated her and their wedding vows. Oh, no everything is forgiven because he only left to teach his father a lesson. He HAD A REASON, everyone. Who cares that he left behind his wife, an innocent who married him and whose life he ruined by leaving, because a wife during those historical times had little power, she would not be able to marry another man and hell he called her a whore because he thought she slept with another man. So what was she supposed to do with the rest of her life? Knit (not that I have anything against knitting) and aimlessly wander through life waiting for her husband to come back. If it was up to him, he would have selfishly ruined a woman's life in his quest for revenge. But hey, love forgives everything.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Daniella

    Reading is a risky game. There is always that chance of you investing too much in a story, only to get yourself burned in the end. I took a risk with The Courtesan Duchess. And I got burned. So badly in fact that I had to watch cat videos to calm myself down. Before I rant, I'd have to applaud Ms. Joanna Shupe for her writing prowess. It's not everyday that I'm this impressed by new writers, since normally, their inexperience shows in their inept grasp of the technicalities. There is usually that Reading is a risky game. There is always that chance of you investing too much in a story, only to get yourself burned in the end. I took a risk with The Courtesan Duchess. And I got burned. So badly in fact that I had to watch cat videos to calm myself down. Before I rant, I'd have to applaud Ms. Joanna Shupe for her writing prowess. It's not everyday that I'm this impressed by new writers, since normally, their inexperience shows in their inept grasp of the technicalities. There is usually that great flaw in the plot structuring, the pacing, or the planning that screams "fledging writer"--pardon the term--but I didn't find that in this book. In fact, it actually seemed as though Ms. Shupe has been writing novels for years, with the masterful way she wrote the story. But a good grasp of the writing technicalities is not enough to produce a good book. If it has no soul, if there is no connection with the characters, if the story is not believable, then everything is all for naught. I have two main issues with this story. The biggest problem with this book is that I could not stomach the hero, Nick. Reading about him was a big test on my endurance. For one, his way of thinking, his logic, was ridiculous! The author's justification or excuse for his actions was a flimsy one, and downright illogical. Okay, let's talk facts: During his wedding, Nick's impression of his wife was that she seemed like an innocent girl. What he did: Nick abandoned her after the wedding, justifying himself with the excuse that she was his father's pawn. Whenever his wife was mentioned, he got angry. My thoughts: If Nick believed that she was innocent, why would he assume the worst about her? What right did he have to get angry at his innocent wife? And if he planned on abandoning his ducal responsibilities, why get married in the first place? Why did he have to get married BEFORE going abroad? Why not go abroad BEFORE the unwanted marriage????? Another thing: Simon ("Winchester" as he was called), Nick's best friend, has told him repeatedly over the years that his wife was suffering. Nick knew his family was cruel. Nick met Julia, who was pretending to be a courtesan. He wooed her. He got to know her. Then, he found out that Julia was actually his wife. His reaction: That whore. It had all been a game. The rumors, the flirting, the kissing. She’d merely wanted him to chase her, to fall at her feet. And he had, goddamn nitwit that he was. It was some sort of revenge for ignoring her for eight years. God, and the things he’d told her. Nick had revealed parts of himself to her that he hadn’t shown anyone, ever. And she and Winchester had been laughing at him the whole time. My thoughts: How could he assume the worst of Simon, his best friend? Shouldn't the NORMAL reaction would be to give his best friend the benefit of the doubt? Given their extensive history together, you would have thought that Nick would know that Simon wouldn't stoop so low. Also, given that he actually got to know Julia over the days they spent they spent together, I expected him to give her the benefit of the doubt as well. ESPECIALLY since Simon has hinted so many times that she was suffering. Why didn't he even think, for once, that Julia could be experiencing hell with his family???? I'm sorry, but Nick was not justified at all. He was so NARROW-MINDED, so consumed by angst, that I wanted nothing more than to punch him in the face. CAN YOU TRY TO BE LESS SELFISH, NICK? PLEASE FOR FUCK'S SAKE THE WORLD DOES NOT REVOLVE AROUND YOU!!!!!! After that fuckery, there was no redemption for him. I was killing him in my head with every page. The other problem with this story was that the justification for the story itself was not convincing. A virgin pretending to be a courtesan without the man knowing it? Umm right. I'm not buying it. While the writer gave a valiant effort at justifying the story, I'm not convinced. I think I would have been more forgiving if Nick wasn't such a fucking asshole. Sorry, but yeah, I blame Nick for this 1 star rating. He was awful. Just fucking awful. I have ZERO tolerance for disrespectful, immoral and hypocritical MOTHERFUCKERS like him. He can burn in hell for all I care.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Cristina

    The blurb says it all. The H is one cheating bastard that leaves his young wife behind for eight years. The h is left with no choice but to pretend to be a courtesan to get herself pregnant by the H so she can have use the baby as leverage to get some money, The funny thing is once the H knew the truth, he was mad she'd tricked him. Give me a break. The girl was 16 when he left her with no money, no word if she was alright. It was just wasn't my kind of book... The blurb says it all. The H is one cheating bastard that leaves his young wife behind for eight years. The h is left with no choice but to pretend to be a courtesan to get herself pregnant by the H so she can have use the baby as leverage to get some money, The funny thing is once the H knew the truth, he was mad she'd tricked him. Give me a break. The girl was 16 when he left her with no money, no word if she was alright. It was just wasn't my kind of book...

  4. 4 out of 5

    Stacey is Sassy

    DNF at 35% no rating as I did not finish. Well, my first attempt using my new Romance Package from Audible was unfortunately not to my liking. I checked out a few reviews and saw that I wasn't alone. Now, unlike others, I kind of knew that I'd be meeting a douchewaffle hero who has no respect for his wedding vows. Where I differ, is that it wasn't my biggest problem (it was a problem, just not my biggest problem). Unfortunately, the narration, mixed with the storyline didn't work. Now, I actually DNF at 35% no rating as I did not finish. Well, my first attempt using my new Romance Package from Audible was unfortunately not to my liking. I checked out a few reviews and saw that I wasn't alone. Now, unlike others, I kind of knew that I'd be meeting a douchewaffle hero who has no respect for his wedding vows. Where I differ, is that it wasn't my biggest problem (it was a problem, just not my biggest problem). Unfortunately, the narration, mixed with the storyline didn't work. Now, I actually liked the narrator's voice and think she did an OK job, but her reading the sex scenes made my skin crawl. Now, talking about the sex scenes...it was described as "sweet" on Audible. Bloody Hell!! If that's sweet, I'd love to see what steamy was like. The hero was smarmy and lecherous and not at all what I'm used to in my Historical Romance reads. I don't mind sexy and dirty talk but this did not get my heart pumping or turn me on at all. I suppose the justification was that he thought he was talking to a courtesan?!? Can't say I'm a fan of the hero and I don't think the rest of the story was long enough to be able to convince me that he could change his spots. I'll pass on The Courtesan Duchess and go searching for something else. Quite a few positive reviews so don't judge this story on my review alone. Also, keep in mind that I was listening not reading. It may have been a better experience if I didn't have to "hear" him.

  5. 4 out of 5

    WhiskeyintheJar

    1.5 stars For more quotes and comments - Buddy Read Courtesan Duchess Hero marries young heroine, leaves before they even consummate wedding night and stays away for YEARS. Why? His father made him get married because he wants to make sure hero continues the family line. Hero does not want to continue line because he hates his father. Why hero didn't just leave before getting married? I don't know. Heroine is left to the horrible mother-in-law who doesn't live in their home and gets a stipend cont 1.5 stars For more quotes and comments - Buddy Read Courtesan Duchess Hero marries young heroine, leaves before they even consummate wedding night and stays away for YEARS. Why? His father made him get married because he wants to make sure hero continues the family line. Hero does not want to continue line because he hates his father. Why hero didn't just leave before getting married? I don't know. Heroine is left to the horrible mother-in-law who doesn't live in their home and gets a stipend controlled by the cousin who wants the dukedom to himself. Realizing she has to do something to insure her and her aunt aren't left destitute in the streets by the getting worse cousin. Heroine decides to get hero's friend, who she has becomes friends with too, to bring her to hero in Italy and pretend to be a courtesan and get pregnant, with hopefully a boy so she can gain control of the dukedom's riches. What follows is a bunch of sex that I skimmed because the insta-lust was immediate and I didn't feel connected or that I knew the hero and heroine to let alone feel connected to them as a couple. I honestly felt the hero was trash and he never redeemed himself. After he finds out the courtesan he was hot for was his wife, he calls her a whore and then thinks she was pregnant by some other dude and was trying to pass it off as his. He stays away from her as we get massive month jumps and only shows up when she goes into labor. He was staying away because if she gave birth too early he would know the baby wasn't his. He never grows to trust the heroine's word. I do like the set-up of the abandoned wife taking charge to get hers or what seems like in this case, survival but the hero was just absolutely trash. The writing fundamentals were good but wasn't a fan of the plot or characterizations.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Caz

    I've given this a B at AAR, so 4 stars. I have to confess that when I read the opening scene of this, Joanna Shupe’s début novel, I almost closed the book and picked up something else. In it, the heroine watches her long-estranged husband pleasuring (though not shagging!) another woman in the middle of a game of cards at a very debauched party – which isn’t really the sort of thing I expect to read right at the beginning of a romantic novel! But I reasoned that I was probably supposed to think “e I've given this a B at AAR, so 4 stars. I have to confess that when I read the opening scene of this, Joanna Shupe’s début novel, I almost closed the book and picked up something else. In it, the heroine watches her long-estranged husband pleasuring (though not shagging!) another woman in the middle of a game of cards at a very debauched party – which isn’t really the sort of thing I expect to read right at the beginning of a romantic novel! But I reasoned that I was probably supposed to think “eew”, and kept reading – and I’m glad I did, because The Courtesan Duchess turned out to be an engrossing, angsty story which, while not without flaws, was very readable. Eight years before the book begins, Nicholas Seaton, heir to the Duke of Colton, was blackmailed by his unpleasant, dictatorial father into marrying a sixteen-year-old heiress for her money. Still reeling from the impact of the death of his beloved older brother, and knowing his father quite capable of carrying out his threats, Nick had no alternative but to agree to the scheme. But that was as far as he was prepared to go, and he left the country immediately following the ceremony, leaving his young bride untouched and dependent upon his cold, uncaring parents. In the years of his absence, Nick has inherited the dukedom and has had no contact with his wife or his family, and wants none. He ignores what his friends tell him of his wife’s difficulties, and continues his hedonistic lifestyle with no thought or care for what is going on back in England, where Julia is facing penury. She doesn’t want her husband back; she doesn’t even know him other than by his reputation as the ‘Depraved Duke’, but his mother refuses to allow her to live in any of the ducal properties, his cousin is embezzling money from the estate and has drastically reduced her income in an attempt to force her to his bed – and in desperation, she comes up with a last-ditch plan to force the family to provide for her financially... You can read the rest of this review at All About RomanceShe travels to Venice, where she disguises herself and pretends to be an infamous courtesan, determined to seduce Nick, and get herself pregnant. She reasons that if she is carrying his heir, his miserly mother will be forced to at the very least provide her with an income. I’m not a big fan of the “oops – I shagged you and had no idea of your true identity” type of plotline, but this one is rendered plausible by the fact that the couple didn’t know each other before the wedding, Nick was drunk for most of it and Julia was little more than a girl at the time and her appearance has changed somewhat over the years. The bit I found hardest to swallow was the idea that she’d had “lessons” in how to act like a courtesan from London’s finest ladybird, one Pearl Kelly, whose words of wisdom can be found at the beginning of each chapter. Everything goes according to plan, and Julia and Nick spend an idyllic week together, actually getting to know each other out of bed as well as in it. The love scenes are nice and steamy, and the author writes the more tender, romantic scenes very well, showing Julia discovering that her gorgeous husband is not at all the hardened reprobate his nickname would suggest. He’s generous, considerate, and quite sweet upon occasion, and before the week is out, she is horrified to discover that she’s fallen for him. When Nick discovers the truth, he is naturally furious, and immediately suspects Julia of having seduced him in order to foist another man’s child upon him. The infamous double standard that allows a man to put it about as much as he likes and be patted on the back for it, while a woman who does the same is reviled rears its head – Nick refuses to believe Julia when she tells him the child she is carrying is his and calls her a whore. He sends her away to his estate in the country to await the birth, fully expecting the baby to arrive “early”. During their time apart, however, Nick is brought to see the truth of Julia’s situation and to realise that he has behaved very badly towards her. He still can’t forgive her for her deception, but he can’t forget her either – and he’s furious with himself for the fact that he still wants her, in spite of everything. It’s always difficult to like a man who jumps so easily to the worst of conclusions and who is ready to fling horrible insults at a woman who has done nothing that he hasn’t done himself. But then, this is an historical romance, and it’s a sad fact that women were held to a much higher standard in this regard than men were at the time this story is set. Julia, however, refuses to take Nick’s crap, and makes it clear that whatever he believes, she is his duchess and that she deserves his financial support if nothing else – and that once he’s sorted all that out, he can bugger off back to Italy with her blessing. But just as Nick discovers the reasons behind Julia’s desperation, so does she come to learn more about the circumstances that caused Nick to behave as he did. The bulk of the story is concerned with how these two emotionally bruised people find their way back to each other, and in spite of Nick’s being a git for a large part of it, I did want them to work everything out. As often happens in stories like this, the hero probably doesn’t grovel enough. But Julia is no pushover, and struggles between wanting to forgive Nick and wanting to (metaphorically) kick his arse. The book is well-written and the two principals and major secondary characters are strongly drawn, but the secondary plotline in which someone is out to do mischief to one or both of the Coltons feels like overkill. Nick and Julia have enough to contend with without external threats and the final showdown is rushed and rather too melodramatic for my taste. I also found myself shaking my head at the rather “girly” dialogue occasionally given to the male characters, such as this conversation between Nick’s friends Winchester and Quint – “he fell for her, Quint. I saw it happen. Colton and Julia fell in love in Venice. They were mad for each other – until the guilt overcame her. She didn’t want to hurt him so she left. And it’s only a matter of time before they realise how perfect they are for one another.” I just can’t hear a man talking like that! With those few reservations in mind, I’m going to recommend the The Courtesan Duchess to anyone looking for a new author to try. It’s been a while since I’ve read a début historical romance that I’ve rated above average, and while this one does have a few flaws, I’m definitely interested in reading more by Ms. Shupe.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Joanna Loves Reading

    Pros: 1. The writing 2. Spicy sex scenes (calling them love scenes would be inaccurate) (also a con because I listened to some of these at work, my bad) Bonus: good narration effort by Carmen Rose, whom I was leery to try again after the last experience. Cons: 1. The Hero a.k.a jerk ass wanker shithead 2. Not feeling the love (NOT AT ALL) 3. Stupid Villain (utterly, ridiculously stupid and also nonsensical) 4. Plot 5. The only time the h&h’s spend together in any sort of agreeable way is in sack. THAT I Pros: 1. The writing 2. Spicy sex scenes (calling them love scenes would be inaccurate) (also a con because I listened to some of these at work, my bad) Bonus: good narration effort by Carmen Rose, whom I was leery to try again after the last experience. Cons: 1. The Hero a.k.a jerk ass wanker shithead 2. Not feeling the love (NOT AT ALL) 3. Stupid Villain (utterly, ridiculously stupid and also nonsensical) 4. Plot 5. The only time the h&h’s spend together in any sort of agreeable way is in sack. THAT IS THE SUM OF THEIR RELATIONSHIP AND CONNECTION. At least it was good sex? Buddy read with WhiskeyintheJar/Kyraraker in our first real miss.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Cheesecake

    Whoa. Don't know what possessed me to buy this one! I like a good 'forgotten bride' story, but the hero has to have at least 2 brain cells to rub together. Really he was a balless wonder... This is to remind me why I don't read this author; (view spoiler)[ Why does she love him??? Really? Must be mental illness on her part cause I would have castrated him in his sleep. This book has so many of my pet peeves!; -flagrantly cheating H -double standards galore -separation that was way too long (8 years) -'lo Whoa. Don't know what possessed me to buy this one! I like a good 'forgotten bride' story, but the hero has to have at least 2 brain cells to rub together. Really he was a balless wonder... This is to remind me why I don't read this author; (view spoiler)[ Why does she love him??? Really? Must be mental illness on her part cause I would have castrated him in his sleep. This book has so many of my pet peeves!; -flagrantly cheating H -double standards galore -separation that was way too long (8 years) -'love' that springs out of sex and not romance -H is a self-pitying douche -so h does all the work in the relationship -H believes the lies of a woman he already knows to be deceitful. -Oh yeah, and the big kicker... Nick says at the end, "God, I think I fell in love with you the minute I met you." what utterly unbelievable horseshit! (hide spoiler)] Anyways, read but skimmed through parts I cringed at. Reminder to self, writing good, story unromantic/bad.. do not read author again.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Valerie Bowman

    One of the best debuts I've read in years. Joanna Shupe's The Courtesan Duchess is fast-paced, compelling, and super sexy. You won't be able to put it down. One of the best debuts I've read in years. Joanna Shupe's The Courtesan Duchess is fast-paced, compelling, and super sexy. You won't be able to put it down.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Debby*BabyDee

    Well, this one just didn't hit home for me with the plot, the H nor the h. This was an audiobook listen of this story and although I enjoyed the narrator, I did not care for the story plot and especially the H in the book. Thought he was a total jerk, especially if he couldn't remember a woman he married. I also did think the heroine had to much sense either to sit and watch her husband get his kicks off with a barmaid right in front of her face without confronting him. Not sure if I've read anyt Well, this one just didn't hit home for me with the plot, the H nor the h. This was an audiobook listen of this story and although I enjoyed the narrator, I did not care for the story plot and especially the H in the book. Thought he was a total jerk, especially if he couldn't remember a woman he married. I also did think the heroine had to much sense either to sit and watch her husband get his kicks off with a barmaid right in front of her face without confronting him. Not sure if I've read anything by Joanna Shupe before, but if I did, this one just didn't win me over.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Salma

    I love it I LOVE IT SOOO MUCH .. you may predict some of the events still the Author will blow your mind by other super unexpected things . Nick & Julia were adorable .. more so were her funny aunt Theo & the incredible Hulk : fitz Julia's and Nick's best friend Simon was something else i must know his secret so see you in next book Si ;) I love it I LOVE IT SOOO MUCH .. you may predict some of the events still the Author will blow your mind by other super unexpected things . Nick & Julia were adorable .. more so were her funny aunt Theo & the incredible Hulk : fitz Julia's and Nick's best friend Simon was something else i must know his secret so see you in next book Si ;)

  12. 5 out of 5

    Julie

    Check out my other reviews at Little Miss Bookmark! OOH!! This is a good one! Okay ... The Courtesan Duchess. So very good! First, for those of you that don't know what a courtesan is ... it's basically a prostitute for rich fellas back in the day. It was no secret that dudes went outside of the marriage for ... things that they didn't want the mother of their children to do and/or basically to just be a dog. And it was okay back then, women didn't talk about it, courtesans were just a part of th Check out my other reviews at Little Miss Bookmark! OOH!! This is a good one! Okay ... The Courtesan Duchess. So very good! First, for those of you that don't know what a courtesan is ... it's basically a prostitute for rich fellas back in the day. It was no secret that dudes went outside of the marriage for ... things that they didn't want the mother of their children to do and/or basically to just be a dog. And it was okay back then, women didn't talk about it, courtesans were just a part of their lives. Well, not that I know for SURE that is how it was done ... that is how it is done in the hundreds of historical romance novels that I have read. Anywho ... this is about a woman named Julia who was basically abandoned by her husband after she said "I do" to him. She just deals with this abandonment for eight very long years. Then she comes up with a plan ... she is going to seduce her husband. She gets all of these tips from a lady of the night on how to seduce him and after she disguises herself, she sets the plan into motion. That's it. And what happens is nothing short of a fabulous read! I just adored this book from the very first page. I don't know what it was ... the writing style, the characters, the whole premise ... it was just awesome. I loved the sassy gumption that the main character had, it knocked the story up a few pegs. If the characters aren't interesting or if they are just ... normal ... it's not interesting to me. I really didn't have to worry about that with this one. Joanna Shupe did an amazing job of introducing you to the characters but not bogging you down with too much background info on them and just let the reader find out for themselves what really makes each character tick. The way that the story played out, you were really lead to hate Nick (the husband) and I LOATHED this fictional man with everything I had. I really wanted Julia to make him suffer. I won't say whether she did or not because it's something that you have to experience when you crack the spine on this one. The premise was amazing, the execution was amazing ... the whole damn thing was amazing. I've never read anything by this author but I know that she has quickly become a staple in my life and I'm excited to see what the other two novels in the series are like. If they are anything like this one, I know I'm in for a wild ride!

  13. 4 out of 5

    Esther

    First time reading this Author and she just gained a new reader. This book starts in "steam" mode and doesn't let up for about 1/2 of the book. Hot!! Not going to really go into details about the synopsis of the book. The summary pretty much covers it. Nick (the Hero) was forced to marry Julia by his Father, who he hated (I hated him too). He's bitter and leaves for EIGHT YEARS, right after the "I do's". Julia is treated horribly by his family during the time he's away by his family. Thank goodnes First time reading this Author and she just gained a new reader. This book starts in "steam" mode and doesn't let up for about 1/2 of the book. Hot!! Not going to really go into details about the synopsis of the book. The summary pretty much covers it. Nick (the Hero) was forced to marry Julia by his Father, who he hated (I hated him too). He's bitter and leaves for EIGHT YEARS, right after the "I do's". Julia is treated horribly by his family during the time he's away by his family. Thank goodness for her Aunt which I loved by the way. Julia then decides it's time to do something to survive these horrible in-laws and devises a plan. She seeks help by the best courtesan to entice her husband and accomplish her goals for survival. And Julia and Nick together...WOW!!! This was a well written and engaging read. The story pulled me in from the first page and didn't let up till I read the last. The characters had great depth and evolved as the story progressed. There's lot's of steam, action, chemistry and a good plot. Again well written story. I hated Nick at times. SPOILER!!!!!!!!!! (there is a part in the book that really made me mad. He was mad at Julia and proceed to find someone to help him forget. So he goes and finds a prostitute and proceeds get a blow job but realizes he's only thinking of Julia and walks away. But really Nick...geez). But as the story progressed and you learn what Nick had to endure from his Mother and Father you see why he behaves as does. He character grows and you begin to see how Julia brings out the good in him. Julia, she's strong, sweet, beautiful, faithful and determined. I liked how she stood up to Nick. Julia also grew as a character throughout the story. I enjoyed the secondary characters and am looking forward to future books about their stories. Netgalley for an honest review.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Aly is so frigging bored

    3.5* It was an enjoyable read, I can't say that I was blown away though. I liked both characters, they had flaws and made mistakes and they felt human. That being said, the hero was a complete asshole for at least 50% of the book. Many people know that I liked assholes, but this guy... he couldn't even admit he was mistaken and apologies, that made me rate the book less. All in all, I enjoyed myself and I'm definitely reading the next one. I'm hoping the author will write the story of the courtes 3.5* It was an enjoyable read, I can't say that I was blown away though. I liked both characters, they had flaws and made mistakes and they felt human. That being said, the hero was a complete asshole for at least 50% of the book. Many people know that I liked assholes, but this guy... he couldn't even admit he was mistaken and apologies, that made me rate the book less. All in all, I enjoyed myself and I'm definitely reading the next one. I'm hoping the author will write the story of the courtesan that Julia studied under, she seemed fascinating.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Sammy Loves Books

    Julia, the Duchess of Colton I love it when a couple falls in love after they say "I do"!! Julia, the Duchess of Colton I love it when a couple falls in love after they say "I do"!!

  16. 4 out of 5

    Luana ☆

    While I dislike the hero's attitude for most of the book I couldn't help but like him. It was the oddest feeling. He was horrible to his wife due to having had a horrible life and everything was so unfair. That being said, I was surprised by how entertaining this read was. He had to work a loooot for her forgiveness, and although I don't like when things drag for too long, I enjoyed this book. It was a super steamy romance, a lot of angst, mistrust, lies, danger, travel. I will be reading more o While I dislike the hero's attitude for most of the book I couldn't help but like him. It was the oddest feeling. He was horrible to his wife due to having had a horrible life and everything was so unfair. That being said, I was surprised by how entertaining this read was. He had to work a loooot for her forgiveness, and although I don't like when things drag for too long, I enjoyed this book. It was a super steamy romance, a lot of angst, mistrust, lies, danger, travel. I will be reading more of Joanna Shupe in the future.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Obsidian

    Ugh. Well that's two romance buddy reads that did not end well, LOL. I love reading these books with WhiskeyintheJar Romance but wow. This one actually somehow maybe beat out the last book where we had the virgin kidnapped by the escaped convict who threatened her all the time, but somehow love happened. "The Courtesan Duchess" had two leads who should have dusted their hands off after meeting and agreeing to go live separate lives. The first few sex scenes I had a hard time with (believable scal Ugh. Well that's two romance buddy reads that did not end well, LOL. I love reading these books with WhiskeyintheJar Romance but wow. This one actually somehow maybe beat out the last book where we had the virgin kidnapped by the escaped convict who threatened her all the time, but somehow love happened. "The Courtesan Duchess" had two leads who should have dusted their hands off after meeting and agreeing to go live separate lives. The first few sex scenes I had a hard time with (believable scale didn't quite register) but then I just got bored. Nick and Julia were not engaging and as Whiskey said, besides having sex with each other, there was nothing else there. Very boring romance with a plot you could call a mile away. "The Courtesan Duchess" has Julia, Duchess of Colton traveling to Venice in order to seduce a husband she has not laid eyes on in 8 years. Julia plans on seducing the Duke of Colton, Nick, in order to become pregnant with his heir in order to call on the money that his cousin, Templeton, is now refusing to give to her. Did you follow all that? I think what kills me the most from this story is that Julia had other options, she had a very good friend who is also friend's with Nick who would have given her funds, could have written to Nick, etc. This scheme was so harebrained I couldn't do a thing but laugh at it. Julia ends up taking lessons from a London courtesan on seduction and each chapter heading has some pearl of wisdom from her to Julia. I feel like I recall this from some movie about a woman who becomes a courtesan in Italy. I am not going to go looking it up. Oh in case you are wondering why Nick doesn't recognize Julia, it's because she dies her head flaming red and I guess she grew in 8 years. I don't know. I had a hard time with that. I guess he never looked his wife in the face when he recited his vows and refused to have anything to do with her. If a romance is going to succeed, you have to want the two characters who are the hero and heroine to get together in the end. You have to want them to get past the issues and fall madly in love. Instead I wanted to shake Julia for being a moron with this plan and Nick for just being about 90 percent awful throughout the book. When Nick eventually realizes that Julia has done he takes it upon himself to banish her to the country and the time jumps in the story became ridiculous. I think from start to finish this book took place over a year. The secondary characters are not that interesting. This book also seems intent on positioning one of the characters as the main character in the next series. The writing was fine, I just did not care for Nick and honestly think he got off too lightly in this. "The display shocked Julia. Scandalous yet strangely alluring, the performance served as a reminder that her husband’s life was a world away from her own sheltered existence in London." FYI, she's a virgin at this point. I don't even get what was happening here. "His black hair a bit long, it fell down around his collar to frame his perfect features: a straight nose, bold cheekbones, and a full mouth. He was truly breathtaking." FYI, she is thinking this while watching him fondle another woman who is also "pleasuring herself" while everyone watches. "If Colton’s odious cousin, Lord Templeton, followed through on his recent threat to further reduce her stipend, in a few months she wouldn’t have enough funds to pay the servants or the rent on their small house in Mayfair. Colton’s mother had made it clear Julia was unwelcome at any of the ducal properties. Which meant she and her aunt would be destitute. Julia needed a male child, a legitimate one, to serve as the heir to the Colton estate." Another thing that kills me about this dumb plan, what if she happened to have a girl? She does get that a baby is not automatically going to be a boy because she wants one right?? "God, it had hurt. But it was done—and he hadn’t noticed. Julia felt a surge of triumph, a roar of feminine power at the success. Now the pain was receding, just as Pearl said it would, and a strange new sensation, one of delicious fullness, dawned." Of course we get the best first time ever scene. Courtney Milan has been the only who has ever written a first time scene that felt realistic to me in a romance book. The flow was up and down and that is really because of the time jumps. We go from a month, to maybe two months and all of sudden it's 9 months later. The book setting moves from Italy (which barely felt real at all) to England. I hope you enjoy Nick saying tesorina and bellissima. In my head he said everything with a terrible accent. The ending has a reveal that anyone that was paying attention could have guessed at and a happily ever after. You can read Whiskey's review Hate the Hero

  18. 4 out of 5

    Kiltsandswords

    This book is so steamy! The premise is that Julia will impersonate a famous courtesan, travel to Italy, seduce her wayward husband and return to England carrying his heir. It’s the seduction part that is really well developed. The chase and dance that Nick and Julia (or Juliet as she introduces herself) was just SO MUCH FUN! Julia was a revelation! She taunted and teased Nick and played the seductress to perfection. If you love a book where there is INSANE foreplay followed by some of the best lo This book is so steamy! The premise is that Julia will impersonate a famous courtesan, travel to Italy, seduce her wayward husband and return to England carrying his heir. It’s the seduction part that is really well developed. The chase and dance that Nick and Julia (or Juliet as she introduces herself) was just SO MUCH FUN! Julia was a revelation! She taunted and teased Nick and played the seductress to perfection. If you love a book where there is INSANE foreplay followed by some of the best love scenes written, then this is the book for you! The innuendos and dialogue between Nick and Julia as she is wooing him was amazing. This passage is just one of many: “I find myself curious about you, Juliet. I’ve never seen Winchester so bewitched by a woman, at least not before I left London. And the stories circulating about you are wildly fantastic, almost as if they’re fabricated. Then I meet you, and there’s an air of innocence about you that is incredibly alluring.” Julia’s eyes widened, but before she could respond, he continued. “I feel a…pull toward you that I’ve never experienced before with a woman. I’m intrigued.” Heavens, her husband could be charming. She fought to keep the mood light, despite the fact that her tongue felt thick with desire. “Intrigued? And here I had hoped for interested. Or better yet, infatuated.” “Oh, I am all of those things as well.” He brushed his knuckles against her cheek in a tender gesture. It’s just so rich that he is infatuated with his own wife – a virgin no less! The teasing doesn’t last long as Nick isn’t one to be put off. I was so curious to see how a virgin bride would handle a worldly man like Nick, while pretending to be a famous courtesan. If the flirting was hot, the time between the sheets (and everywhere else) was incendiary. These two have some amazing chemistry. Of course it doesn’t always go to plan. Julia is in serious danger of falling in love with Nick. She runs back to England where the rest of the story takes place. Her partner in crime, Simon, left Nick a note telling him who Juliet/Julia was. Hell hath no fury like a Duke wronged. The Nick we encounter in London is very different from the lazy, indolent lover in Venice. He storms around London like a rampaging demon. He finds the motivations behind Julia’s impetuous, yet well planned visit to Venice. While he despises what she has done, he solves the problems he left behind for Julia to face. There is so much more going on with this story that just flirting and sex. Nick is a really complex character. For a Duke, he has despised his position and the reasons why are the kind of things that can haunt a person their whole lives. Nick has crazy demons, but the author doesn’t let him off the hook for being an ass to Julia. Julia has endured a lot in the past eight years since she married Nick. She has had to deal with banishment, being preyed upon and sexual harassment. Julia is one of the strongest characters I have read in a while. She manages to find a way through things and has incredible determination. While they are back in London, one thing that hasn’t changed is the attraction they feel for each other. Julia and Nick feel that lurid clawing passion that makes you do crazy things. Such as ignore each other or be cruel because you are hurting. I wanted them to hurry up and reconcile, but what would be the fun in that? This was a fantastic book. I stayed up until 4 AM reading it. I’m amazed I’m even coherent to write this today. All I know is that I had a wonderful time spending time with these characters. I loved the plot, the sexiness and the twists and turns. This is a great story and I highly recommend reading it! Reviewed for www.kiltsandswords.com This book was provided by Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions and thoughts are my own.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Kimberly Rocha~ Book Obsessed Chicks

    "I wonder if you truly possess the skill to back up your arrogance." His eyes heated to liquid silver. "If you find a private alcove, I'll happily demonstrate my abilities before the end of the performance. After all, it's only fair to know what you're getting" ______________________________ Before I begin my review of Joanna Shupe's debut novel THE COURTESAN DUCHESS, I need to first say that this book is one of the best debuts of the year and I am not saying that lightly. Joanna Shupe is eloquent "I wonder if you truly possess the skill to back up your arrogance." His eyes heated to liquid silver. "If you find a private alcove, I'll happily demonstrate my abilities before the end of the performance. After all, it's only fair to know what you're getting" ______________________________ Before I begin my review of Joanna Shupe's debut novel THE COURTESAN DUCHESS, I need to first say that this book is one of the best debuts of the year and I am not saying that lightly. Joanna Shupe is eloquent and entertaining and her voice is relevant. I cannot wait for more from her. Having been tossed aside soon after her marriage at the tender age of sixteen by her equally immature husband, Julia, the Duchess of Colton isn't going to take it anymore, and with good reason. Julia is in need of conceiving an heir to the Colton dynasty and quickly, for she has her estranged husband's cousin is in hot pursuit of his title. In an effort to thwart Templeton's actions, Julia sells her jewelry and hires premiere courtesan Pearl Kelly to assist her in seducing said husband. Julia transforms herself from the quiet and forgotten Duchess of Colton into Mrs. Juliet Leighton, temptress extraordinaire who follows Nicholas Francis Seaton, the seventh Duke of Colton to Italy where he has been entertaining himself as of late. When Nick sees the seductress he has no idea she is the wife he abandoned eight years prior. He is however fascinated by the creature and determined to have her. Colton was never destined to become Duke, but when his brother died suddenly after a scandal involving Nick, his father attempted to bring Nicholas in line and part of that control was having him marry Julia. The Depraved Duke as Nick is known by the ton, wants nothing to do with England or his wife. He would rather her find other distractions while he finds his own. Colt begins his chase to have Juliet, for the obvious desire they share for one another will not be dashed. At first, Julia/Juliet is clearly out of her element, even with the lessons she has prepared herself with, but soon she catches on. She must remember that Colton is a means to an end, preferably an end with her living out her existence in peace as a mother. That means to an end could be so much more if the Duchess and the Duke just take a good look at one another inside. THE COURTESAN DUCHESS by Joanna Shupe is not to be missed. A wonderful story with so many twists and turns, it is clearly for the discerning reader. Watching the progression Julia and Nicholas go through to become the couple they were meant to be is a glorious challenge so brilliantly brought to light by Ms. Shupe. Having become so thoroughly captivated by THE COURTESAN DUCHESS, I am eager to dive in to the next book in the series THE HARLOT COUNTESS.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Under the Covers Book Blog

    You may have seen me talk about Joanna Shupe in videos/social media.  Last year I discovered her books when I read a Christmas anthology she was part of.  I wanted to read more of her books, especially her NYC Gilded Age stories.  But I found this gem on Audible Romance and couldn't pass up the opportunity to start yet another series.  Such is the life of a book hoarder. First things first, this book is not about a courtesan.  Our heroine gets help from a courtesan to figure out how to seduce You may have seen me talk about Joanna Shupe in videos/social media.  Last year I discovered her books when I read a Christmas anthology she was part of.  I wanted to read more of her books, especially her NYC Gilded Age stories.  But I found this gem on Audible Romance and couldn't pass up the opportunity to start yet another series.  Such is the life of a book hoarder. First things first, this book is not about a courtesan.  Our heroine gets help from a courtesan to figure out how to seduce her husband so she can get pregnant before she loses everything to her husband's cousin.  The hero and heroine married when she was just sixteen.  An arranged marriage of course and somewhat forced, especially on the hero who left town right after the wedding and hasn't seen his wife in eight years.  All part of his family trying to control him after his brother died.  She now sets out to seduce her own husband with the help and guidance of a London courtesan to make that happen.  She wasn't expecting to develop feelings for him while doing it though. If you are looking for a fun and romantic book, pick this one up.   Julia showed a strength that many women wouldn't find in trying to do whatever was necessary to help her situation.  Nicholas was the part of the story that I think could've been a little better.  He's supposed to be the Depraved Rake but I never got a full sense of that from him.  He had a lot to grovel for after he abandoned his wife without looking back and I don't know if he ever did enough of that for my taste.  But overall, I found them endearing together and had a fun time while reading this. Another thing that really stood out to me was the fact that this was Ms. Shupe's debut novel and already it felt like a seasoned storyteller.  I am looking forward to reading more of her books and continuing this series as well. *Reviewed by Francesca❤ ♡ Don't want to miss any of our posts? Subscribe to our blog by email! ♡ ❤

  21. 5 out of 5

    Yesy (The Book Vagrant)

    2.5 STARS there was so much potential for this to be an angsty, second-chance...ish romance but the hero was frustrating and a hypocrite and the pacing was weird and anticlimactic (adding an extra .5 stars because I liked Julia even if her judgement was a little... questionable, to say the least)

  22. 5 out of 5

    Cee (The Mistress Case)

    A memorable and stunning debut by Joanna Shupe! Cue standing ovation for The Courtesan Duchess for bringing on the heat. It’s crucial to have a sympathetic protagonist. Not a pitiful one. Sympathetic. There’s a huge difference. Which is why it was effortless to support Julia’s cause. Can you imagine? Pretending to be a courtesan and having your husband desire you as a woman, not as a wife? A husband who hardly cares about what’s happening to you in England while he’s abroad having endless dallianc A memorable and stunning debut by Joanna Shupe! Cue standing ovation for The Courtesan Duchess for bringing on the heat. It’s crucial to have a sympathetic protagonist. Not a pitiful one. Sympathetic. There’s a huge difference. Which is why it was effortless to support Julia’s cause. Can you imagine? Pretending to be a courtesan and having your husband desire you as a woman, not as a wife? A husband who hardly cares about what’s happening to you in England while he’s abroad having endless dalliances with loose women? It’s the equivalence of a bitch slap from life. This is the case for the Duchess of Colton, whose husband left her eight years ago shortly after they had married. Julia must produce an heir to secure her future— or end up in debtor’s prison. Either that or propositioned herself. It’s not as bad as it sounds. The child part, that is. Even with the duke out of the picture, even if she doesn’t conceive a son, she will love her baby wholeheartedly and give love enough for two parents. For the time being, all she is require to worry about is putting her seduction to the test while guarding her anger and keeping her heart far from the clutches of her own husband. Sounds complicated? The Depraving Duke is the bodily form of the Seven Sins— Pride, Lust, Gluttony, Sloth, you name it all. He’s also the synonym of stupidity. Eight years ago, Nick, or Nicholas, shed his responsibilities to the dukedom and to his wife without a backward glance. He has no wishes of returning to England. Despite his jackassery his excuses for his actions, there’s no denying Nick is absolutely delicious. That’s right. Delicious. The absolutely lick-me-and-don’t-stop-delicious kind. It’s no wonder Julia lusts after him and starts to care for him. As much as the sensual scenes made me squirmed in delight, they also managed to make me wince . . . in a good way . . . Why? I can’t look passed the plain facts: She’s inexperienced. She altered her appearance (dying her hair to red is among those altercations). She goes by her courtesan persona, Mrs. Juliet Leighton. Knowing all of this, it’s transparent her husband isn’t making love to Julia; he’s making love to Juliet. And that’s truly heartbreaking. At least Nick eventually learns what he’s been missing. During the first time they made love, obviously Julia must deceive him into thinking she isn’t a virgin and so it’s difficult not to grimace when she acts like she’s enjoying some parts of their lovemaking. Not that she isn’t enjoying it. Her passion boldly levels with Nick. Mercifully to my relief, she puts on quite a performance and succeeds. The vital question: Did she succeed in carrying the duke’s baby? You’ll just have to read and find out (; This book captivated me from beginning to end. Yes, Nick is probably the worst hero in the world and a major arse. Yes, Julia is outrageously cunning (and for good reasons). They’re both stubborn and prideful human beings. But above all the flaws and shallow behavior, they are meant for each other. They belong together and had me rooting for them to the very end. Meanwhile, I wanted to strangle Nick throughout the entire book. Seriously, the entire book. He’s a coward, a moron, and every other vile insult I can think of. I like Julia. After all the years of being mistreated by Nick’s family and mocked by society, astoundingly, she still has a big heart and a soft side. Although desperate, she doesn’t succumb to pressure and harden into a self-centered, bitter imbecile. The only issue I have with this book is I’m still not sure how old most of the characters are. Nick, Theo, and Fitz, for example. Other than that, I enjoyed Pearl’s lessons and tips at the beginning of every chapter. They’re riveting secrets, hushed warnings, wise words, funny jabs at men. Why wouldn’t it be entertaining? Oh, did I mention the story takes place in Venice? Venice as in Italy? It’s merely a bonus to the romantic and sexy excitement. I’m certainly buying The Courtesan Duchess when it is released :D It’s the type of book that makes reading and reviewing fun. Without a doubt, The Courtesan Duchess is one of my favorite historical romance books of 2015! Most original too. Now I can't wait to get my hands on the second book The Harlot Countess. I need me some Simon :3 Five Exploding Stars! **ARC provided by Netgalley in exchange for an honest review** Update: Here's my review of The Harlot Countess .

  23. 5 out of 5

    Lorka

    The first half of the book was a 5-star for me, I couldn't put it down until I passed out at 3am. This is my first book by this author and she writes a good steamy story! I didn't find it to be over-the-top raunchy, or looking for shock value points... but definitely a very good steamy. She does an awesome job describing emotions in her writing, from lust to anger. It was all very believable. The last half of the book, about the point where they are back in England... it fell a bit for me. It wa The first half of the book was a 5-star for me, I couldn't put it down until I passed out at 3am. This is my first book by this author and she writes a good steamy story! I didn't find it to be over-the-top raunchy, or looking for shock value points... but definitely a very good steamy. She does an awesome job describing emotions in her writing, from lust to anger. It was all very believable. The last half of the book, about the point where they are back in England... it fell a bit for me. It was a little too much of him being too pissed, but once he would start to forgive her, then she would be too pissed at him. Back and forth a bit too much and took forever for them to trust each other. Overall a great story though, I never lost interest and was not tempted to skim ahead and cheat :)

  24. 4 out of 5

    Christy

    The Courtesan Duchess did not disappoint. It was a great story in so many ways and more entertaining than I expected. In a genre where I expect far-fetched plots, it fares along well with it’s competition. I especially appreciate a romance with zero whiny/annoying characters (don’t get me wrong - it can make for an interesting storyline - if it’s done right). This story played out nicely to dominate my Sunday afternoon (housecleaning on audio). There were no lengthy angst ridden chapters and a g The Courtesan Duchess did not disappoint. It was a great story in so many ways and more entertaining than I expected. In a genre where I expect far-fetched plots, it fares along well with it’s competition. I especially appreciate a romance with zero whiny/annoying characters (don’t get me wrong - it can make for an interesting storyline - if it’s done right). This story played out nicely to dominate my Sunday afternoon (housecleaning on audio). There were no lengthy angst ridden chapters and a good story overall. There could have been more detail into the reconciliation - which was played out quickly in the last minutes, but that’s being extra particular I suppose. Looking forward to the next in series.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Sylvia

    Nicholas Francis Seaton, the seventh Duke of Colton known as the Depraved Duke married Lady Julia Seaton because of his father wishes. He does not want anything to do with his estates or his wife. Without the Duke's direction, Julia is desperate. Julia has to take matters in her own hands and comes up with a plan to seduce her husband to get a heir. Lady Julia seeks advise and guidance from a known courtesan and pretends to be Mrs. Juliet Leighton, another known courtesan. Nick's friend, Damien Nicholas Francis Seaton, the seventh Duke of Colton known as the Depraved Duke married Lady Julia Seaton because of his father wishes. He does not want anything to do with his estates or his wife. Without the Duke's direction, Julia is desperate. Julia has to take matters in her own hands and comes up with a plan to seduce her husband to get a heir. Lady Julia seeks advise and guidance from a known courtesan and pretends to be Mrs. Juliet Leighton, another known courtesan. Nick's friend, Damien Beecham, Viscount Quint knows Lady Julia's situation and willing to help her with her plan. Will Lady Julia make her husband fall in love with her? I love this story. I love to discover new authors. It was a wonderful story. This book was heartfelt and exciting. I received a complimentary copy from the publisher thru NetGalley for an honest review.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Irene

    Bad title + worse book blurb = unforgettable, steamy story with fun leads and memorable secondary characters? Like But I would not have picked this up judging by the book title, the cover, or the book blurb. In fact, all three things made me want to put the book down. However, after coming across it in my TBR book list, I was curious and some of the nasty GoodReads reviews on here sealed the deal. I think I’m coming around to the estranged couple trope and its subtrope, estranged wife pretends to Bad title + worse book blurb = unforgettable, steamy story with fun leads and memorable secondary characters? Like But I would not have picked this up judging by the book title, the cover, or the book blurb. In fact, all three things made me want to put the book down. However, after coming across it in my TBR book list, I was curious and some of the nasty GoodReads reviews on here sealed the deal. I think I’m coming around to the estranged couple trope and its subtrope, estranged wife pretends to be a courtesan and the hero does not know. I have now read 2 books where this subtrope happens and I know there’s a third out there somewhere! I loved it all, the steam, the sob story, the conflict, the villain... Did I mention the steam? I am so glad to have discovered a new author I love! Julia, the Duchess of Colton, has decided she has no other course of action left to her but to pretend to be a courtesan to Nick Colton, her estranged husband living abroad in Venice in order to secure the heir to the ducal estate and therefore ward off the creepy ducal estate manager, Templeton, through her baby powers. If she has the next duke in her belly, there is no way that Templeton would dare to reduce her monthly stipend or make advances at her! Oh Julia. But anyways. Off she goes to Venice with Nick's friend, Simon, in tow. Simon is in on her scheme and believes Nick is a complete asshat, which is why he is helping Julia. They have long been friends and also Julia helped him one time long ago and he is ever so grateful to her for helping him... Although when you find out why in the next book, you kind of want to roll your eyes at how dramatic Simon was. Nick is named the Depraved Duke for a very good reason and he makes quite the impression on the first page so well done, sir. Nick is an amazing hero, he is complex but I also love that Julia notes how hypocritical he is in how he treats the same woman with two different roles in his life i.e. unwanted wife versus desired courtesan who is actually his wife. It's not even the jewels but the romance and simply the attention he does on a lover than his wife of 8 years. Julia was feeling the feels and the reader felt them along with her. Which is why it's so great when he does grovel at the end. And Julia must be the most convincing courtesan to be played by a virgin wife ever. If she is that smart to know how to act to be a courtesan, you'd think she'd be smart enough to come up with another scheme for saving the roof over her and her aunt's head. But then I suppose we wouldn't have a romance. This was a very fun, entertaining read and I'm now reading the rest of the series.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Rose

    I’ve been really into historical romances recently (if it wasn’t obvious from all the books I read recently😂). And I really enjoyed this one. Would give it a 3.5 stars ! The angst and storyline was ADDICTING and GREAT. The characters too! This is about Julia and Nick - they married 8 years ago and he left never to come back (arranged marriage). They barely spoke or interacted in that time. Julia runs into trouble and formulates a plan to seduce her husband to get an heir. She learns to become a se I’ve been really into historical romances recently (if it wasn’t obvious from all the books I read recently😂). And I really enjoyed this one. Would give it a 3.5 stars ! The angst and storyline was ADDICTING and GREAT. The characters too! This is about Julia and Nick - they married 8 years ago and he left never to come back (arranged marriage). They barely spoke or interacted in that time. Julia runs into trouble and formulates a plan to seduce her husband to get an heir. She learns to become a seductress, goes to Venice and her and nick start a passionate 10 day affair - he has no clue who she is! I loved the passion and the excitement I felt reading this. Why not more stars ? I didn’t like that after he found her he felt so betrayed whereas I still think he needed to atone MORE for leaving her for 8 years and having all the women in the world! He was still horrible to her and when he got his head out of his ass, I wish we saw him TRY CRAZY hard for her forgiveness. I felt his love for her and his pain but I wish it hadn’t been her fighting for him after all this time, but the opposite way. I wish we saw him cry for forgiveness at some point. And I wish she brought up all the women he had before. For safety: not safe - during the 8 years he was with OW, she was a virgin. I didn’t mind this given the times and the fact they barely spoke. After he realises her betrayal, he tries to get with one woman and she begins giving him a BJ but he stops it. And for a year or more after he’s celibate. (Until their HEA). Would I recommend this ? Yesssss

  28. 4 out of 5

    D.G.

    **2.5 stars** The Courtesan Duchess had one of those conflicts where BOTH were correct in feeling how they felt: given his abandonment, she was right in doing everything in her power to secure herself financially and he was right to be mad as hell when he discovered that she had deceived him to conceive a child. I even think he was right to wait until he could be sure he was the father (which normally would have been a pretty shitty thing to do) but hell, when a woman goes to the trouble she went **2.5 stars** The Courtesan Duchess had one of those conflicts where BOTH were correct in feeling how they felt: given his abandonment, she was right in doing everything in her power to secure herself financially and he was right to be mad as hell when he discovered that she had deceived him to conceive a child. I even think he was right to wait until he could be sure he was the father (which normally would have been a pretty shitty thing to do) but hell, when a woman goes to the trouble she went to a sleep with a dude, he was totally right to be suspicious. With a conflict this huge, I didn't like how the author kept piling issues. I didn't like how they weren't together for a good 40% of the book while she was pregnant and how the hero kept finding excuses not to be with her. "I can't be the husband you need!" "I like it kinky and that's not how you treat a wife!" (FYI...he was totally right on her going down on him when he thought she was a courtesan.) It was totally eye-rolling and the reason for the low rating on my part. I don't know why Carmen Rose has become such a popular historical romance narrator because she's average at best. She doesn't have good male voices and her posh accent is not good enough (I guess I should be glad there weren't any Welsh characters...remember Winterborne? Shudder.) Not sure yet if I'll read the next in the series.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Teresa

    This is one of those love it or hate it book. Just hearing the series name and the word deceptions, you can guess some people behave badly. It has elements to it that a lot of readers don't like, and I think the variety of ratings and reactions reflect that. I had no issues, because I thought it was real and raw and angsty and frustrating and all the things. I like to go through those feelings when I read, so this one worked for me. And it was well written. The only issue that I had was some of This is one of those love it or hate it book. Just hearing the series name and the word deceptions, you can guess some people behave badly. It has elements to it that a lot of readers don't like, and I think the variety of ratings and reactions reflect that. I had no issues, because I thought it was real and raw and angsty and frustrating and all the things. I like to go through those feelings when I read, so this one worked for me. And it was well written. The only issue that I had was some of the cartoonish nature of the villains and the way it played out at the end. Otherwise, loved it and looking forward to reading the other two.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Danielle A

    This is one of those books where the main story and couple was going to be a wash for me from the very beginning. Nothing wrong with Joanna's writing - she had a nice balance of details and pacing and I sped right through this but it just fell flat to me. Also I did enjoy how some of this was set in Venice and San Marco was talked about. It's an iconic place in Venezia. The characters were just not likable enough. I understood their povs and history but I didn't feel like they suited each other. This is one of those books where the main story and couple was going to be a wash for me from the very beginning. Nothing wrong with Joanna's writing - she had a nice balance of details and pacing and I sped right through this but it just fell flat to me. Also I did enjoy how some of this was set in Venice and San Marco was talked about. It's an iconic place in Venezia. The characters were just not likable enough. I understood their povs and history but I didn't feel like they suited each other. Below are a lot of spoilers... (view spoiler)[I can't get on board with a hero that doubts the heroine's sexual history because she was too good in bed as a virgin like ... what was that! and prior to that left her for EIGHT YEARS with his horrible family and when he finds out she's pregnant immediately suspects that she was carrying another man's child and he's so JEALOUS. Jealousy does not EQUAL LOVE. Like that mentality where he could go around screwing everyone he wants while neglecting his responsibilities but somehow she owes him loyalty was appalling. Then he wonders why she didn't call upon him during that period - um hello you left your SIXTEEN YEAR OLD WIFE alone with your AWFUL parents and conniving family members. Nick was not redeemable enough. We should've had more scenes of them making up without it being about how they can't be apart because of their attraction to another. Nick should've groveled at Julia's feet for being such a DUMB, JEALOUS, POMPOUS A-HOLE. I know they had a good enough connection based on Venice but that's when Julia was pretending to be someone she wasn't. She was purposely wooing him with the intent to seduce him. Also the part where she got pregnant despite knowing how he felt was just ICKY to me. Consent applies to men as well ! I don't care if it was a strategy. That whole storyline just could've been written differently or scrapped all together. I actually wanted the heroine to end up with the best friend Simon because he actually treated her with respect, had banter with her, and was there to support her instead of abandoning her for eight years. (hide spoiler)] Anyways, I'll still read the other books because I'm interested in Simon's story and Lady Sophia's.

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