The Courtesan Duchess (Wicked Deceptions Series #1)

The Courtesan Duchess (Wicked Deceptions Series #1)

4.6 18
by Joanna Shupe
     
 

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Can a bold-faced lie lead to everlasting love? One by one, the impetuous heroines in the Wicked Deceptions series intend to find out, each in her unique way. . .

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

Overview

Can a bold-faced lie lead to everlasting love? One by one, the impetuous heroines in the Wicked Deceptions series intend to find out, each in her unique way. . .

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 voila, 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?

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
02/02/2015
Shupe’s heartfelt debut opens the Wicked Deception series, a Regency trilogy featuring fearless heroines. Julia, the Duchess of Colton, disguises herself as Juliet Leighton, a well-known London courtesan, and travels to Venice to see the husband who abandoned her following their wedding eight years earlier. She believes that the only way to avoid financial ruin is to produce an heir, even if that means duplicitously seducing her own husband. Julia is tenacious and determined, and entirely unprepared to actually like her husband, Nick, whose caring nature seems at odds with his unwillingness to face his responsibilities to her. After learning that “Juliet” is his wife, Nick struggles to reconcile his anger over Julia’s deception with his continued desire for her. Romantic tension heightens the intensity of the sensuous love scenes, as the two struggle to mend their fractured relationship. This original and alluring novel is a very promising beginning to Shupe’s career. Agent: Laura Bradford, Bradford Literary Agency. (Apr.)
Library Journal
04/15/2015
Forced into an arranged marriage when she was only 16 and promptly deserted by the groom, Julia Seaton, Duchess of Colton, hasn't seen her libertine husband, Nicholas, in eight years. Now, shunned by his family and nearly destitute, Julia devises a daring scheme to become pregnant and secure her future by transforming herself into an irresistible courtesan (with the help of Pearl Kelly, one of London's best) and seducing her unwitting spouse. To Julia, it's the perfect plan! Then their emotions explode, the duke learns the truth, and everything begins to unravel. Explicit sex singes the pages, and real danger lurks in the shadows as Julia and Nick battle distrust and resentment as they try to forge a future in a lively story liberally enhanced by Miss Kelly's sage advice. VERDICT A naïve, desperate heroine and a thoughtless, rakehell hero mature delightfully as they come into their own in this steamy debut that is the first of a back-to-back trilogy and skillfully sets the stage for the stories to come (The Harlot Countess in May and The Lady Hellion in June). Shupe lives in South Orange, NJ.
From the Publisher
"This original and alluring novel is a very promising beginning to Shupe's career." —Publishers Weekly

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781420135527
Publisher:
Kensington
Publication date:
03/31/2015
Series:
Wicked Deceptions Series , #1
Pages:
352
Sales rank:
270,682
Product dimensions:
4.10(w) x 6.70(h) x 1.20(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

Read an Excerpt

The Courtesan Duchess


By Joanna Shupe

KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP.

Copyright © 2015 Joanna Shupe
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4201-3553-4


CHAPTER 1

A smart woman may transform herself into whatever the situation requires.

Miss Pearl Kelly to the Duchess of Colton


Venice, November 1816

The first time the Duchess of Colton saw her husband since their hasty marriage, she found him seated at a card table with a buxom woman draped across his lap, her legs dangled over the side of his chair. Julia could see them both quite clearly from across the gaming room. The woman was ... pleasuring herself while the duke had one hand inside the woman's bodice, his fingers moving beneath the fabric to casually caress her breast. His other hand, along with his attention, remained on his cards.

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. But then, she reasoned, what else would one expect of a man dubbed the Depraved Duke? She swallowed her embarrassment and continued to watch the scene unfold.

He was handsome, she realized. Julia had seen him briefly during the wedding ceremony, but they'd both been younger, not to mention she'd been a shy and terrified sixteen-year-old. Now he appeared older and ... much bigger. 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.

Some women might be consumed with jealousy at catching their husband in such a fashion. Not Julia. The man was a stranger to her, and she felt nothing but a combination of anger and annoyance. Anger that Colton had ignored her for eight long years, and annoyance that she'd been forced to create such an elaborate ruse and travel across the Continent to carry it out.

Julia watched as the trollop on his lap began gasping for breath. The woman closed her eyes and shivered from head to toe, her head thrown back in ecstasy. Colton's expression revealed nothing about his companion or his cards, while the other players appeared nonplussed as they studied their own hands. Save Julia, no one else in the room paid a bit of attention to them. A woman was ... finding release on his lap and no one even turned to stare. Was this a regular occurrence, then?

Once the woman caught her breath, she leaned in to whisper in Colton's ear. He smiled, politely assisted her off his lap, and gave her backside a small slap before dismissing her. His attention turned back to the game.

Julia's good friend, Simon Barrett, the Earl of Winchester, appeared by her side. "Are you certain about this? It's not too late to back out, you know."

She shook her head. "No. I've come too far to stop now."

Simon was quite a handsome man in his own right, more so tonight with his fair hair and blue eyes contrasting nicely with his black evening clothes. He'd insisted on accompanying her to Venice, to pose as her current lover, allowing him to both escort her and protect her. Deep down, Julia was grateful for his help.

She smiled at him. "And after what we've just seen, I'd say my plan is perfect."

"I was afraid you would say that."

She sobered. This wasn't Simon's battle, and it seemed only fair to offer him the same chance of escape. "Simon, as I've said many times, I can do this on my own. Your friendship with Colton need not suffer because of your participation."

Simon glanced across the room to the duke. "I have my own reasons for helping you. I'll deal with Colt's anger, if the time comes."

She leaned up on tiptoe and placed a kiss on his cheek. "You're a good friend." Her heels came back down to the floor as she gently reminded him, "Now, I'm the incomparable Mrs. Juliet Leighton, London's most notorious courtesan. Allow me a few moments with him but no more."

"Fine. I only hope I can recognize you."

Learning of her wayward husband's preference for red-haired women, Julia had procured a dye to temporarily turn her light yellow locks to a fiery red.

"What matters is catching Colton's eye."

"Oh, I shouldn't worry about that." Simon held out his arm. "Shall we?"

She nodded and accepted his escort. The card tables lined the back wall, so she and Simon were forced to amble through the clusters of guests and footmen passing glasses of champagne in order to reach their destination. Though Simon had warned her what to expect at a private party of loose morals, Julia had a hard time not staring at the goings-on around her. No wives were in attendance; instead, the women were mistresses, actresses, and prostitutes. And the men, mostly former members of the Venetian government or wealthy merchants, seemed eager to take advantage of the situation. Couples openly kissed and touched one another boldly, the air thick with smoke, lust, and sweat.

Her confidence grew as they crossed the room. No one they spoke with suspected her an imposter, and they treated her informally—as a courtesan, not a duchess.

Despite her nerves, there really was no choice in the matter. This plan must succeed. 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. Only then could she thwart Templeton's designs on the dukedom.

Her plan was foolproof. Six months ago, Julia had sold off all her remaining jewelry in order to secretly hire Pearl Kelly, London's true reigning courtesan, to offer advice. Pearl had proved a veritable fount of information, telling Julia precisely how to dress, act, speak, and flirt like a Cyprian.

Pearl had even helped design Julia's gowns along with the courtesan's own modiste. The resulting wardrobe was luxurious and elegant with sumptuous fabrics and daring necklines, such as the deep emerald green gown she wore tonight. The undergarments had been ordered from Paris, and they still made Julia blush. Her jewelry had posed a problem, since every good piece she'd owned had been sold off over the past two years. So Pearl had graciously loaned Julia several stunning sets, which included the expensive diamond and pearl necklace now around her neck.

Julia had also learned how to use creams and paints to best enhance her features. Earlier, she'd applied a dusting of white pearl powder on her face, rose pink rouge on her lips and cheeks, and a light coating of lamp-black on her lashes and eyebrows. The enhancements combined with her red hair made her completely unrecognizable to anyone familiar with the blond and understated Duchess of Colton.

They ventured near the duke. After a moment, Colton looked up and his face registered surprise. "Winchester!" He threw his cards on the table and unfolded his lanky frame to stand before them. "I can scarcely believe it. Why didn't you write to let me know you were coming?"

Simon managed to look surprised, then slapped Colton on the back. "I'd heard a rumor you were still here, old man."

"I cannot find a reason to leave." Colton turned to Julia, focusing on her with polite interest. "I see you are not alone. Pray introduce me."

"Of course. Colton, meet the inimitable Mrs. Juliet Leighton. Juliet, this wastrel is my oldest friend, the Duke of Colton."

She dropped into a deep curtsy and watched from under her lashes as her husband took in the shockingly low neckline of her gown, where her ample bosom threatened to make an appearance at any moment. "Mrs. Leighton, your reputation precedes you," the duke said as she rose. "I've heard nothing but accolades to your beauty and wit. It is said you are the woman who holds all of London in the palm of her hand."

Julia was relieved to hear the rumors they'd started had reached her husband's ears. "Perhaps not all of London, Your Grace, but a fortunate few have indeed felt the palm of my hand."

A black eyebrow shot up, and he gave a devilish grin that would surely melt the insides of a weaker woman. "Winchester, I am beginning to envy you," Colton murmured, his smoky gray gaze never leaving hers.

"As you should. I am entirely at Mrs. Leighton's whim." Simon's intimate smile left no doubt as to the nature of their relationship.

"You flatter me," Julia said in her best coquettish voice. "Simon, darling, please leave His Grace and I alone for a few moments. Be a good lad and fetch me some champagne."

Simon flashed her a besotted glance that would've had Julia laughing under any other circumstance. "Anything for you, love." He walked away to leave Julia alone with the husband she hadn't seen in eight years.

She should be tongue-tied, she thought, as she regarded the man who wielded enormous power over her, even from such a great distance. But considering the hot gleam of male interest in Colton's eyes, the way he studied her carefully, Julia knew the control now lay in her own hands.

"Your Grace," she started, then boldly moved closer and took his arm. "I feel as if we already know one another." Julia led him toward the terrace doors.

"Do you?" He deftly maneuvered them around other couples and placed his large hand on the small of her back as they continued outside into the cool darkness. "If we had met, Mrs. Leighton, I am quite sure I would remember."

"Oh, you must call me Juliet. All my good friends do."

"Then, by all means, you must call me Nick. I've never been fond of my title." Tall and lithe, he leaned casually against the terrace railing, the backdrop a surprisingly clean stretch of canal. He was even more handsome up close. His shoulders were broad, and power lurked beneath his finely tailored clothing. She suddenly felt so ... alive and edgy in his wickedly alluring presence. Little wonder her husband had become such a rake and scoundrel.

"If you insist, Nick," she drawled while noticing the way he studied her lips. "Are we to be friends, then?"

"I certainly hope so." His face softened with a flirtatious smile and her knees went weak, the power of that small gesture warming her down to her toes. "Are you enjoying Venice, Juliet?"

"It is a lovely place. This is my first trip, and I must confess it's nothing as I imagined. The food is superb and they are passionate, friendly people. And you? Have you been here long?"

"About three years. Before that Vienna, Cologne, Paris...."

"And do you plan to return to our fair England one day?"

His features tightened ever so slightly. "No. I have no plans to return. There is naught there for me now."

Rage blossomed in her chest, hot and strong. How dare he. Naught there for him—even a wife? Although her hand itched to smack his cheek, Julia forced what she hoped was an intimate expression and dropped her voice to a husky purr. "My luck, then, in meeting you here."

"Indeed. And just when I'd thought Venice had grown boring. Have you known Winchester long?" "No, not long. Though he's spoken of you. I understand you've been friends forever."

"It's true. Since Eton, actually. We—"

"Here you are, love." Simon appeared with a glass of champagne.

"So, Winchester," the duke began, "tell me how you've been getting on the last two years."

Two years! Julia gasped and almost choked on a mouthful of champagne. Simon had seen her husband two years ago? If Colton weren't standing here, she would give Simon a good kick in the leg for not telling her.

"I find myself remarkably well. And you?"

"I enjoy it here," Colton responded lightly. "The Venetians are quite pleasant, despite the resentment of the Austrian presence. I had thought, however, to travel to St. Petersburg next year."

"It's been eight years. Do you not think enough time has passed—"

"Do not say it." Colton's voice took on an edge and his face darkened. "After our last row, I thought you agreed to cease hounding me to return."

"But really, Colt. Your wife deserves—"

"Oh, you mean my father's pawn?" He straightened to his full height. "Cease immediately. Do not make me regret keeping you informed of my whereabouts all these years."

Pawn? What on earth? Julia could scarcely wait to get Simon alone in order to get answers.

Simon held up his hands in surrender. "I have no wish to quarrel with you. Especially in front of such a beautiful woman." He slid his arm around Julia and gave her shoulders a reassuring squeeze.

Her face a mask of polite civility, she focused on the duke. "Your Grace, we plan to attend the performance of Tancredi at La Fenice the evening after tomorrow. Perhaps you would care to join us?"

"I had already planned to attend, in fact," Colton replied, his posture once again relaxed. "I would be honored if you both would join the party in my box."

Julia tried to look surprised though she'd already known his plans. Simon's valet had convinced one of the duke's maids to give them information on Colton's daily social schedule. More chance meetings with Mrs. Leighton were in Colton's future. "That would be lovely, Your Grace. I shall look forward to it."

* * *

Nicholas Francis Seaton, the seventh Duke of Colton, watched covertly from his seat at the card table as Winchester and Mrs. Leighton took their leave. Since returning from the terrace, he'd hardly been able to take his eyes off his friend's companion while she charmed every other man at the party. She was good. The best, if the rumors of her superior wit, charm, intelligence, and passion were to be believed. But Nick had never placed much credit in rumors. Not after his own life had been turned upside down by gossip and innuendo, and he'd been forced to leave his home and country.

No, Nick was much more interested in discovering the woman's talents for himself.

If he had to conjure up a vision of the perfect woman, the exquisite Mrs. Leighton would be it. With alabaster skin and clear blue eyes, her fiery hair, delicate features, and lush figure were all artfully arranged and displayed to her best advantage. Bloody hell, she was a goddess in every way. The low-cut dress had barely contained her ample breasts, and Nick swore he'd caught sight of one dusky areola.

And her smile ... With lips tilting up mysteriously at the ends, her mouth teased and tempted. Begged a man to run his tongue along the edges in the hopes it tasted half as delicious as it looked. He'd seen a woman's beckoning smile a hundred times before, but never one quite so charming as Mrs. Leighton's. It had almost seemed as if she'd been amused by him at the same time she flirted with him.

No wonder Winchester appeared so unnaturally besotted. While growing up, many a woman had hopped from his bed to Winchester's and vice versa. It had all been a game. But the tender way Winchester looked at Mrs. Leighton tonight had been surprising. So Nick would need to gauge Winchester's feelings for the woman before making a move. Even though she had overtly flirted with him, he'd not offend one of the few men he still considered a friend.

Three-quarters of an hour later, he tossed in his hand. It had been a profitable evening and he was tired. Too many recent late nights. He collected his winnings and then departed.

Once on the street, Fitzpatrick, Nick's valet and self-appointed guard, stepped out of the gloom. "Evenin', Your Grace."

"Christ, Fitz. Stop calling me that."

"Just because you don't want to hear it don't mean it's not true," Fitz said in his raspy brogue and began leading the way to the gondola.

Nick muttered an obscene curse under his breath and Fitz chuckled. Nick knew Fitz would always use the proper title, no matter how many times he told the Irishman not to.

Seven years ago, Nick had rescued the giant man from a nasty fight in a Dublin back alley. Two ruffians had been holding Fitz down, while a third man used a knife to slice open Fitz's face. Nick had recognized them all as local thieves, so he stepped in to help even the odds. In those days, Nick had been eager for any fight he could find, and he and Fitz made short work of the three criminals. Unfortunately, Fitz had been badly cut in the fray, scars he still bore to this day.

Fitz believed Nick had saved his life. Since then, he'd attached himself to the duke, and Nick soon learned it was easier to employ Fitz than to try and get rid of him. The Irishman started as Nick's valet, but trouble followed Nick everywhere. Fitz had taken it upon himself to also look after Nick's safety and had repaid the favor with Nick's own life many times over.

They turned a corner and onto a relatively desolate street with little light. A pair of men approached, and Fitz slid a hand inside his coat, ready to produce the pistol tucked inside his waistband. The men, however, remained in deep discussion and passed without incident. Fitz relaxed and they continued walking toward the water.

"You're overly concerned," Nick told him. "We haven't had a scuffle in eight months."

"Three separate attacks in two years. Not to mention the mishap in Vienna. Perhaps you should be a little more concerned, Your Grace."

This was a familiar conversation, and Nick knew he wouldn't be able to dissuade Fitz from the notion that danger stalked him. He stepped into his gondola.

"How many times must you save my miserable life before you realize I'm not worth it?" Unworthy, ungrateful whelp, his father's voice sneered. Nick beat back the memory, like so many times before. "You could be living a comfortable life in your homeland, Fitz. You're a fool to exile yourself on my account."

Fitz took a seat in the back near the gondolier. "You saved my life. Until the debt is repaid, or you no longer be needin' me, I stay."


(Continues...)

Excerpted from The Courtesan Duchess by Joanna Shupe. Copyright © 2015 Joanna Shupe. Excerpted by permission of KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

Carmen Rose is an award-winning, critically acclaimed British actress. She trained at the Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama and enjoys regular work as an audiobook narrator of romance and erotica.

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The Courtesan Duchess 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 18 reviews.
gaele More than 1 year ago
In keeping with my obsession with all things historic, I couldn’t help but grab for this title. The Courtesan Duchess. This new series from  debut author Joanna Shupe promises wonderful things to come!  I love the title, so oxymoronic in the meaning and yet so wonderfully evocative. A premise of revenge and settling of old debts stars this story with a bang, in Venice.  Julia has established a life in Venice, purporting to be a famed courtesan. Her marriage eight years back was singularly unspectacular, and her husband, the Duke of Colton hasn’t bothered with her since.  There was a curious mix of naiveté  and worldliness in Julia: she wants to tease and torment her husband, but she also hopes to find that sort of love she has dreamed of, whether or not with him.  Nick, the Duke was far less straightforward: while cavorting with everything in a skirt since he left his very young (just 16 years old) wife  to fend for herself, he’s not met a moment of hypocrisy that he can’t fully get behind.  While he’s been playing the field with no compunctions, the mere suggestion of Julia being unfaithful is abhorrent. OK, so we are in titled relationships and the surety of the heir’s  parentage is important, he’s got little wiggle room.  But, Nick does have his own reasons for his bad behavior that extend past selfishness, although none really feel entirely justified in my mind. He could be terrifically hateful, and his mouth often ran before his brain was engaged.  But – I digress:  Julia’s deception worked for her, she saw the kindly and often flirtatious Nick that was so long missing in her life. And he had moments that were sweet and showed his more vulnerable side. She’s heading for that happy ending, and Nick will follow if she  has her way.  Secondary characters were lovely: the courtesan who helped Julia to navigate the life was particularly interesting, and glimpses of Nick’s devotion to his daughter also added to the story. Additionally, there are characters introduced that are sure to be stars of their  own stories: all with a rather unusual pathway to their happy ending. This is a story full of sensuality and sexuality: while connections appear quickly they do not overwhelm the plotting or forward motion of the story.   The plot is fast-paced without overloading readers with details from the past that are superfluous in the present.  A few misses with the  language use where Americanisms are used rather than British distract slightly but not overmuch, I’m just disappointed to see simple mistakes in what was otherwise a truly enjoyable and fun story.  I received an eArc copy of the title from the publisher for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review:  all conclusions are my own responsibility. 
JulieSchroeder More than 1 year ago
If you love sexy historical romance, try Joanna Shupe! Courtesan Duchess is soooooooo good, and it's her debut, so there's lots more to come! I get tired of reading the same-old but the Courtesan angle is new and fun. Shupe's writing is awesome: somehow manages to be straightforward and yet exciting and funny all at the same time, plus she does an especially great job with dialogue (which is always my favorite part in a romance). And finally, if you like your romances on the steamy side, you'll definitely enjoy Courtesan Duchess! 
LoriC5 More than 1 year ago
4.5 Stars! This is a sexy historical romance with sweetness, angst, and intrigue! This is one of my favorite time periods to read about and I enjoyed this books immensely.  Desperate times call for desperate measures. No truer words could be spoken about Julia’s situation. Married at sixteen to a man who wanted nothing to do with his title or his wife, she is abandoned and ignored for eight long years. Her mother-in-law is a tyrant and hates everything to do with her younger son and therefore, by his extension, Julia. In Nick’s absence, his cousin has been “managing” (mismanaging really) his estates and has been slowly dwindling down Julia’s income until she is forced to do something drastic, or end up in the poor house.  Her pride keeps her from going to her friend, Simon, for money. However, she does ask him to help her locate her wayward husband and find a way for her to meet him. Her plan? To find him in Venice, pretend to be a renowned courtesan, and seduce her husband in hopes of producing an heir. But, plans are just guidelines because fate has her own ideas for your future.  Nick is bitter and heartbroken over his childhood, the death of his brother, and the rumors that are a catalyst to his running away and leaving his problems behind. He roams the world (with the exception of England), gambling to survive and spending time with mistresses. He is somewhat content with this life, until he meets the beautiful and mysterious Juliet Leighton. He is immediately addicted to her and sweeps her off of her feet to spend an incredible week lost to everyone but each other.  After the magical week, Mrs. Leighton or Julia, as she is better known, realizes that she has made a huge mistake by duping her husband. She has grown attached to him and he has confided in her enough that she’s knows her assumptions about him were wrong. In an effort to keep her deception from going any further, she disappears without a word. Well, not a word from her, anyway. When Nick realizes the truth of what has happened, he feels as though he has been played the fool and due to his already cynical nature, he believes the worst of Julia. These two strong willed lovers are at odds, both being justified in their anger toward each other. However, Nick takes it too far and he endangers any future he might have with Julia by doing and saying things that are potentially unforgiveable. All the while, they must figure out what is going on around them, because every day, it appears more and more likely that both Nick and Julia’s lives are in danger.  Nick and Julia are great leading characters. So full of life and personality that they keep you interested in their story. They are both hardheaded, independent, intelligent, and despite their wish to believe otherwise, incredibly loving. During their time in Venice, they have a wonderful repartee that made me smile. Their romance was sweet at times and incredibly steamy at others.  The secondary cast of characters definitely help to shape the story. Simon, Aunt Theo, Fitz, and Sophie are little burst of light and laughter among the angst of the hero and heroine. The mystery in the book is good, although it takes a backseat to the relationship of the leading man and lady. That’s not a bad thing, however, I felt the story would have gripped me a little stronger if it had been more prevalent. I figured out who the bad guy was pretty quickly, hut it did not take away from my enjoyment of the book.  If you like historical romance, I highly recommend this book. I am looking forward to continuing the series and reading about the lives of a few of the characters we have been introduced to! Excellent read, 4.5 stars!
JensReadingObsession More than 1 year ago
Amazing debut! Julia is one of my favorites heroines - she's smart, brave, passionate and goes after what she wants. I started out hating Nick, but he won me over by the end once his secrets were out. The story flows perfectly and the love scenes are HOT! Their friend Winchester's story is next and I can't wait to read it! ARC via NetGalley
Mirabelle8 More than 1 year ago
Wonderful historical romance! The Courtesan Duchess had everything to please me! Written, by new to me author, Joanna Shupe, it's her first story in her series Wicked Deceptions. What a bautiful debut for this historical romance! I loved her main character Julia, the Duchess of Colton, AKA Juliet Leighton, one of London's notorious courtesan. I love stories that has a courtesan heroine. As we start the story, she is sweet and a little naïve, but soon becomes smart, sexy and determine. It tells the story, of Julia, had married Nicholas Seaton, the seventh Duke of Colton. Eight years have passed, since she has seen him, while Nick is having fun with other women in Europe. Now, she wants him in her life, pretending to be a famous courtesan. Will her plan work? Will she seduce him? I really enjoyed this story, it was well written and fun to read! I'm looking forward to read her next book The Harlot Countess. I received a copy of The Courtesan Duchess from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Justpeachy1 More than 1 year ago
Joanna Shupe brings readers the first book in her Wicked Deceptions series, The Courtesan Duchess. Readers who love historical romance will find this one enchanting. What do you do when you husband runs away after he says "I do"? That is the question this book answers in a fun and sensual way. Shupe's attention to detail is meticulous and she brings the period into vivid focus. The characters are multi-faceted and full of surprises. This is one of the best I've read this year and the genre. Reader's won't want to miss it. There was just something about this book. This was first experience with Joanna Shupe's writing and I was captivated. Shupe gives readers a rather interesting premise for this book. The groom runs away from the bride and the bride hatches a plan to seduce him. Add in some advice from a lady of the night, a title in peril and danger around every corner and you've a formula for success. This was a really amazing book. Shupe drew me in and didn't let me go. Historical romance is one of those genres that has to get under your skin. A lot of the titles are set in England, as is this one, and the general storylines are very similar. It takes a creative and talented author to put a new spin on it and Shupe certainly does that with this book. It was refreshing and very original. I liked very thing about it. The characters were so life like and entertaining. I just wanted to know more an more about them and Shupe didn't disappoint. Julia is tired of being left alone. She has a husband, but he doesn't really know anything about her or want to be with her. What would you do? I'm not sure I would impersonate a women of ill repute, but that could possibly work... LOL! I does in this story in a magical way. When Julia goes undercover as a courtesan, she takes all the pressure off Nick. He doesn't have think about what it will mean to his title or anything else. He just has to sit back and enjoy the ride. The problem comes in when Julia realizes that she really does like him. I thought she was just a joy to read about. Strong, independent and definitely resourceful. But most of all she was sultry and sensual and very passionate. There are some very hot moments in this one... bring a fan and a cold drink! Nick was an interesting hero. He wants nothing to do with his estate and title. He wanders the country gambling and womanizing. I had a little bit of a hard time understanding why he was so disillusioned at first, but he is totally captivated by Julia and that was endearing. I understood his feelings of betrayal when he found out that he had been played, but he hurt her too, when he left. I didn't think he had the right to blame her completely and I was glad when things turned out all right for them. I liked Nick, but I loved Julia. Bottom Line: This is a really good book. Once you start it, you won't want to put it down. It's unique and different in a genre that is saturated with the same kinds of stories. Shupe makes her characters simply jump off the page. I liked the lead couple and found a lot of comical moments in the secondary cast. I thought the setting was drawn perfectly and really can't find anything that I didn't like. Nick turned out to be a sweetheart, even though I didn't want to like him in the beginning and Julia was a blast through and through... Read this one, I know you'll like it.
NSE More than 1 year ago
What a fabulous debut!  Ms Shupe pulled me in immediately.  I was intrigued how she would pull a Courtesan Duchess off - but wow!  Excellent.   I was cheering for this couple to find their happily ever after.  Well done.  Cannot wait for the next book in the series!
celticmaggie More than 1 year ago
This is a crazy book for a Recency story. I liked this story very much. I really must say this isn't a book for the under 18 readers. Joanna wrote a different story line than most authors. It works very well. She has developed very strong , don't get in my way people in this book. Poor Julia or Juliet. She is almost destitute as her husband Nicholas, a Duke, ran from their marriage 8 years ago. His brother is dead (Spoilers), his parents detest him and he refuses anything doing with his innocent wife. She takes it upon herself to get him back. Spoilers. She chases him to Venice wanting to have his heir. She runs home when she doesn't want to hurt him. Nick fell in love with her and hates it. He vows to not claim her child as his. He comes home to see the child and someone wants him and Julia dead. Major Spoiler. I couldn't put this book down. I loved this story and I hope you choose to read this story. Enjoy this book!  I have this book for an honest review for NetGalley.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
JoRead More than 1 year ago
Will be reading more from this author. I will admit that very recently I read a story very similar to this one so when I started reading about a duchess in search of her long lost husband I thought, haven't I read this before? Not quite so. Although there were plenty similarities in the beginning where the heroes abandon the poor wives right after the wedding leaving them to fend for themselves, here Julia Seaton, does the unimaginable; she disguises herself as a courtesan in order to get her husband's attention and procure an heir. Her husband, Nicholas Francis Seaton, the seventh Duke of Colton has a terrible reputation among the ton as he's known as the Depraved Duke, so I suppose it is understandable why she chooses to take that path to get him to notice her. The whole premise sounds absurd, but as the story progressed and the more I read, the more I found the story enticing and charming, AND steamy! Obviously the duke found his courtesan fascinating so when he finally discovered it was his wife all along it was already too late as he was already charmed by her. And Julia truly thought all she had to do was snare the duke with her charming, womanly traits but then realized he had a heart and the more time she spent with him the more she realized he didn't deserved to be hurt as much as she wanted to when she started with her games. “Well, I learned to be selfish because there's never been anyone else to give a damn.” ~ Nicholas Francis Seaton, the seventh Duke of Colton Nick has a painful past, and it's not that he didn't care about Julia as a person, he just didn't care about the circumstances that lead to their wedding and thought that caring would be giving in to his parents wishes. He didn't know what was going on with her or that she was not being taken cared of by those that were supposed to care for her (husband excluded of course). He is indeed a selfish man with no remorse for leading a life of self-absorption and debauchery. “I do not want a husband who asks permission before coming to my bed, groping me in the dark like an untried schoolboy. No, I want a man. A wicked man who enjoys my wickedness as well.” ~ Lady Julia Seaton, Duchess of Colton Julia on the other hand starts off as a sweet, well-mannered lady of society that blushed at the mere thought of sex, even when pretending to be a courtesan. However the more she practices the part, the more she likes playing it. But things got a bit out of control when her husband starts showing signs of affection for her and that's something she wasn't counting on. And the best part, she's already in love with the person she was going to take advantage of. It's how these two come to terms with their character change that make the whole story come together. Once Nick recognizes his mistakes, he does everything he can to give a better life to Julia, even if that means staying away from her . Because what better way to show one's love than sacrificing oneself for the benefit of the other? There is also this suspenseful twist thrown in almost without being noticed but very well placed that makes the story even better. So yes, the plot may have been a bit predictable but in the end it was enjoyable and the romance was good and worked for me. *** I received a copy of this story in exchange for an honest review via Netgalley ***
def618 More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed this book! The heroine goes after what she needs and wants. The hero is not bad, just damaged from horrible parenting and lies about him. No plot spoilers from me, but I highly recommend it. I'm looking forward to the next 2 in this series which I'm reading ASAP.
zeeba More than 1 year ago
The Courtesan Duchess is sizzling and fantastic historical romance.It is a page turner and everything about this book is wonderful. The plot is great, love the characters and couldn't put the book down. I highly recommend this amazing historical romance. Thank you Joanna Shupe
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a must read...I've been in a reading slump latley and let's just say thank you Joanna for such a great read;) lately it seems books have not been drawing me in..they have been bland....but this writer can write...the whole book drew me in and I didn't even have to skip a page...that's a high praise for me couse all I do is read...this book has great love scenes, kinda on the erotic side..the book is about a duke who gambles, drinks and whore's...my kinda book..he was forced to marry a 16 year old and after the wedding he bolted and leaves his wife without a goodbye ...no letters, no family no support...so let's just say she takes it into her own hands and hires a famous london courtesan on lessons how to be one...tracks her whoring husband down with help from his best friend and pretends to be his lover and so that's when her husband meets her and he wants her in his bed...let's just say she did an awsome job on this book, I loved the secondary characters...the aunt was funny.. this book was about dealing with a lot of different emotions, lots of sex and felling betrayal..also had a mystery....this book is well worth 5 stars...can't wait for the next series.
Historical_Romance_Lover More than 1 year ago
This is book 1 in the Wicked Deceptions series. Having been wedded and not even bedded before her husband took off, Julia, the Duchess of Colton, has finally decided to do something about it. She travels to Venice and acts like the reigning courtesan of London to entice her husband. having been mistreated by her husband's family, she figures if she can get pregnant, her husband's family will have to give her money to support the child. She didn't count on falling for her husband. Feeling like his marriage was just one more way his father tried to control his life, Nick, the Duke of Colton, ran of to the continent without consummating his marriage. Having had many women over the years, he is surprised when the famed courtesan Juliet Leighton, makes such an impression on him. After a whirlwind affair, Juliet suddenly disappears. What will Nick do when he finds out the the woman he has been spending time with is really not a courtesan at all but his estranged wife? I really enjoyed this story. Julia dealt with the hand she had been delivered, but when things got out of her control she did what was necessary to take back her life. Nick never got to know his wife just because his father picked her out for him. He didn't want anything to do with her. Seeing the two get to know each other not as husband and wife but as lovers was an interesting twist for a romance novel. This was my first novel by Shupe and it will definitely not be my last. I loved Simon in this story and I am so happy to see his book is next! Thanks go out to Kensington via NetGalley for a copy of the book in exchange of an honest review.
JeneratedReviews More than 1 year ago
*I received this ARC via Netgallery* Joanna Shupes' debut novel The Courtesan Duchess adds a strong new voice to the world of historical romance! Well developed characters and a superb, steamy storyline make for a memorable debut and put Joanna Shupe on my must buy list of books. Treat yourself to a decadent dose of wickedness with The Courtesan Duchess!
LilMissBookmark More than 1 year ago
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!
Lashea677 More than 1 year ago
The Courtesan Duchess is a steamy read. I received The Courtesan Duchess by Joanna Shupe for an honest review. I had never read this particular author before but found this story to be an enjoyable tantalizing read. Got so hooked that I tried to finish the story in one day. The heroine in the story Julia (Duchess of Colton) has not seen her husband in eight years. Her plan is to lure her husband Nick to her side by using the skills she learns from a courtesan. An interesting idea for a story that worked overall. I will say that I was not a huge fan of Nick. He came across as a jerk most of the time. I hope to read the rest of this series in the near future.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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