So, as a romance writer, I often think about deal breakers. The things that make a hero or a heroine unforgivable. There are a few that I can think of -- all pretty twisted. But there's one that many many readers identify as their personal deal breaker -- Cheating.
Infidelity is a big no-no in romance, and it's understandable, in part because there's this sense that once the hero and heroine meet, they should only have eyes for each other. It takes a very clever, very very skilled writer to make a romance about infidelity work.
Hear me, readers -- if this is your personal deal breaker, I dare you to read on. Because Lorraine Heath is that writer. Waking Up With The Duke is that book. And it is one of the best romances I've ever read. Easily on my top-5 of all time list. Here's why:
At the start of this book, our heroine, Lady Jayne, is a Marchioness in a loveless, sexless marriage. It is loveless for a number of reasons, but it is sexless for only one: her husband was in a carriage accident years earlier, during which he lost use of his lower body. Including pertinent parts.
The person driving? Ransom, Duke of Ainsley. So, when the Marquess goes looking for someone to give his wife the child she's always wanted, he turns to Ainsley and basically says, "You owe me." (In actual fact, he says "You owe me a cock!" Which is an awesomely shocking and perfectly apt line in the scene. Ainsley, wracked with guilt for both his cousin and Jayne (whom he's always had a bit of a thing for), agrees to the arrangement.
Jayne is horrified that she's been bartered, basically, but she does want a child...so she, too, agrees, with the caveat that 1) There will be no kissing and 2) There will be no pleasure.
Yeah. Good luck with that, considering this book is part of Heath's London's Greatest Lovers series.
But here's the thing. This is a Victorian-era romance. Divorce isn't a thing. So, if Ainsley and Jayne fall for each other, there's no possible way they can get their happily ever after. Of course, in Lorraine Heath's hands, it all works out. And you will be rooting for these two from the start.