Your typical, juvenile Regency romance fare. Must. Stop. Reading. These! When will I learn?
Although the book features a very juvenile romance story, the characterizations thankfully aren't as childish as I've grown to expect from such common Regency romances. I would rank Caskie's HOW TO SEDUCE A DUKE a slight cut above Julia Quinn's THE DUKE AND I, Kresley Cole's THE PRICE OF PLEASURE, Medeiros' THE BRIDE AND THE BEAST, and Paula Quinn's LORD OF DESIRE, all of which I consider as weak, boring and annoying in the worst ways; worst in terms of: romance, characters, plotting, settings.
HOW TO SEDUCE A DUKE contains two distinctly disparate plots, both mired by sluggish pacing and uninteresting events. One, that of the romance between our tall, dark and handsome Duke of Blackstone Rogan Wetherly and the beautiful Miss Mary Royle. And two, the setup of all three Royle sisters (Mary, Anne and Elizabeth), the Old Rakes Gentlemen's Club, and their combined investigation into the Royle sisters mysterious parentage. The Royle sisters have some clues from a box their alleged father left them, and Anne is already convinced they're all princesses. The book works its way through a couple threads in the later parentage plot, but the parentage is never completely resolved at the end of this book, and supposedly later books address that subject further. I for one didn't care for these random and ambiguous plot threads dealing with their parentage; I mean it's clear they're princesses, it's only a matter of proving it to the rest of Society I suppose. Certainly, this book didn't make me want to read more books in the Royle sisters line to find out what happens in that regard, or any regard for that matter.
The beautiful Miss Mary Royle (intentional play on words) has her sights set on marrying the handsome and honorable Viscount Quinn Wetherly, the Duke of Blackstone's younger brother. For the upcoming Season, Mary is prepared to press her cause. In fact, she's already begun to do so by batting shy eye lashes at the Viscount at a certain time of day their paths cross every day. Mary is one who gets what she wants, but unfortunately, the Duke of Blackstone gets in the way.
Tall, dark and handsome Rogan Weatherly, Duke of Blackstone, is a rogue, scoundrel and your common flavor of Regency rake. He has some issues about trusting women and vows to protect his younger brother Quinn from money-grubbing women. When he discovers that Mary targets his younger brother, Rogan intercepts Mary at every turn, thinking to protect Quinn from what he believes another money-grubbing miss in Mary. Mary however is just very frugal, not the devious, greedy woman Rogan unfairly judges her to be.
When Mary realizes Rogan is keeping her from Quinn, she plays a dangerous game of dare hoping to send Rogan running with her virgin wiles of seduction. Both dare each other to go to the next level in their dangerous game which ends in a night of passion.
The rest of the story is a bit of blur as the story seems to ping-pong between the quest for the Royle sisters' true parents and a dry game of dare between Rogan & Mary. Both plots are equally unimaginative and uninteresting. Still, the characters aren't as immature as I often find in such stories, so that was nice. Our lead pair seemed to confide in each other at the right time.
The ending isn't anything special at all, and very dry. Seemed like the book was reaching to concoct something in the romance as Mary leaves Rogan just when both are about to marry. The ending actually spent more time trying to set up the parentage plot for the next book. I really didn't care.