REVIEW: “Duke of Manhattan” by Louise Bay

Who knew that a fabulous love story could begin based on money and hot sex?  Louise ay that’s who.  “Duke of Manhattan” pairs up a confirmed manwhore bachelor with a divorcee who has desires a Forever After marriage.  Ryder Westbury enjoys meaningless sex with almost every woman in Manhattan and Across the Pond.  He’s made his fortune in Manhattan even though he’s in line to be England’s next Duke of Fairfax.  Scarlett King’s a 2 year divorcee who’s diligently dated attempting to find a man worth having sex with.  She left her career as an investment banker to follow her bliss and start a fragrance company with her friend.  Throughout “Duke of Manhattan” Ryder and Scarlett undergo tremendous emotional growth.  They develop trust, companionship, and finally find love.  The storyline is engaging, the characters are alluring, and the sex is oh so spicy HOT.

Scarlett and her friend, Cecily’s fragrance company is in danger of folding; they’re in deep financial straits.  The company grew faster than their finances and their dream’s at risk.  They’ve exhausted all options and their best bet’s Westbury Group.  The company’s willing to pay off all their debt but want control of the company.  They’ll keep Scarlett and Cecily as employees but not decision makers.  This isn’t something they want and plan to renegotiate before the loans come due.  Needing a break Scarlett meets her risk-taking sister Violet for drinks.  Violet advocates that Scarlett needs to get laid.  It’s been two years since her divorce, Scarlett and still not she still hasn’t had sex.  Scarlett needs a one-night-stand STAT.  Violet points Scarlett toward a handsome man at the bar staring pensively into his glass.  It turns out the man is gorgeous, flirty, British, and ready and willing for no-strings sex.

Scarlett’s never had a one-night stand and is nervous.  However once they get to Ryder’s apartment he takes complete control.  For Ryder this experience is different from the beginning.  This woman is refreshingly honest and open; she gives up control and submits like a dream.  Ryder’s taken with sounds Scarlett makes during sex. they’re genuine and not for show.  Scarlett’s never had sex like this before; Ryder is commanding and demanding definitely unlike her ex-husband.  She’s never had orgasms this strong or so often during.  He does things to her body that she’s never experienced before.  Scarlett confesses this was her first sexual experience since her divorce and just wanted to get it over with.  Adding it wasn’t as bad as she thought it would be.  Ryder’s pride is definitely bruised, women usually want to have sex with him because of his charm and good looks.

Ryder chose to hang out at a nearby bar until it was late enough to sleep off his jet lag.  He’d just returned from England after visiting his injured grandfather.  His grandfather raised Ryder and his sister and has been deteriorating in health.  The archaic rules of succession are troubling.  In theory Ryder should be receive the title of Duke of Fairfax.  But the rules say only the oldest married male can inherit.  Unfortunately, only Ryder’s greedy and malicious cousin Fredrick meets the criteria.  Making matters worse, Ryder and his grandfather made a business deal some years ago.  Legally the monies are tied to the estate.  Once Ryder’s grandfather dies the consequences of that deal get passed along with the title.  The benefits would allow the new Duke to be able to take control of Ryder’s company potentially ruining him.  Exactly something Fredrick would do.  Ryder needs a wife quick.

The day after the best one-night stand ever Ryder’s meeting with Cecily Fragrances and plans on playing hardball.  They need the Westbury Group and no one else will help them or offer a better deal.  He’s standing his ground.  Scarlett refuses to let her and her partner’s dream go.  They want to get their finances back on track and keep control of their baby.  Scarlett’s going to fight to be more than merely an employee or forced out.  She and Cecily are staying and remaining in charge.  Mr. Westbury and Ms. King face off in the conference room.  They discover they’re Ryder and Scarlett from the previous night’s one-night stand.  Ryder stands firm on his offer and Scarlett refuses to relent.  Remarkably Ryder’s still sexually attracted to Scarlett something that’s never happened before.  They find the level of sexual attraction they feel shocking.

After checking and double checking with attorneys the rules of inheritance are firm, legal, and iron-clad.  Ryder must find a wife especially since his grandfather just had another stroke.  Any potential candidates, would be after his money or the title, but not have any skin in the game.  After thinking on it Scarlett is perfect.  He and Scarlett both need something from the other so the arrangement would be mutual beneficial.  Since there’s so much at risk there’s little chance of Scarlett backing out of the deal like someone else might.  When he pitches the proposition to Scarlett’s appalled and wants to reject it.  She feels as though she’ll be prostituting herself on the other hand she needs his money.  Not surprisingly her sister Violet tells her to do it.  Unexpectedly her levelheaded sister-in-law also advises her to marry Ryder.  So Scarlett takes the deal.

The details of this fake marriage are that it has to be “real”.  They must live together, vacation together, and remain married until after Ryder’s grandfather passes away.  Scarlett objects to the timeframe and negotiates for three years.  Ryder agrees and they travel to the family estate for their wedding ceremony.  They come up with a believable story about their whirlwind romance that’s as close to the truth as possible.  Ryder and Scarlett arrive a week before the ceremony in order to show that their relationship is real.  When they arrive they learn that odious cousin Fredrick and his wife are in attendance hoping to discredit their relationship.  The other person who’s arrived is the woman who had hoped Ryder would select her to be his wife.  She also isn’t happy to meet Scarlett, and tries to make her feel uncomfortable.

Scarlett has a list of rules.  One is no sex throughout the arrangement however that rule breaks quickly and often.  But that intimacy helps facilitate their closeness in reality making them appear like a real couple.  In fact, Ryder’s grandfather tells Scarlett the true story about he and his wife’s meeting and marriage.  Their’s was an arranged marriage and they really didn’t feel anything for each other.  Then one day he realized that that unlikely arrangement led him to the love of his life.  However, his grandchildren believe their story is a grand and sweeping love-at-first-sight story. The Duke advises Scarlett to not discredit any growing feelings just because of the circumstances that initiated the relationship.

Once they get back to the United States Ryder wants to continue sharing a bed with Scarlett.  But messages get crossed.  Scarlett believes something Ryder does is to remind her that this arrangement is temporary.  This happens at an inconvenient time because cousin Frederick drops in, from England, unexpectedly.  Ryder get frustrated and makes it clear they’ll live together, share a bed, and continue to have sex nightly.  In fact, as often as possible.  Unfortunately Ryder’s grandfather passes away and Ryder has documents he must sign.  Unbeknownst to him the attorney presents Scarlett with divorce papers when Ryder wants anything but to divorce.  Scarlett leaves England without a word and refuses to return any of Ryder’s calls, texts, or emails.

“Duke of Manhattan” is delightfully charming and wickedly sexy.  Ryder is extraordinarily charming, delicious, and surprisingly sensitive.  Scarlett is tough, cheeky, yet vulnerable.  Louise Bay creates an entertaining and engaging storyline with a quick and lively pace.  Though a stand-alone novel “Duke of Manhattan” brings back characters from “King of Wall Street” and “Park Avenue Prince”.  Violet King is a fabulous secondary character:  fun, brash, and impulsive.  Ryder and Scarlett’s romance was more than I could ask for.  It has witty banter, super sexy times, and an adorable developing romance.  I recommend this book oh so very much!

I’m giving “Duke of Manhattan” 5 Lightning Bolts and a Hurricane Warning.

 

This novel was provided, voluntarily read, and honestly reviewed.

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