Book Review: The Duke in Denial by Alexandra Ainsworth

The Duke in Denial by Alexandra AinsworthTitle: The Duke in Denial
Author: Alexandra Ainsworth
Genre: Historical Romance, M/M Romance
Sensuality Rating: Steamy
Source: Review copy provided by author
Published: May 22, 2014 by Sanguinity Press

Sebastian Lewis never expected to become a duke. But with the sudden deaths of his cousin and uncle, Sebastian’s position changes. He is determined to fulfill his new responsibilities with grace, even if it means remarrying, and even if the attractions of women, so often lauded by poets, fail to interest him.

Captain William Carlisle, newly returned from India, is elated when he meets Sebastian. Nobody knows of his inclinations, but his harrowing experiences in battle have prompted him to reach for the type of companionship he longs for. He thinks Sebastian might feel an attraction as well, but to his dismay, he discovers that Sebastian is courting his sister Dorothea.

After a semi-arranged engagement and a disconcerting romantic tangle with William, Sebastian escapes London to look after his manor, only to face mysterious thefts, a headless ghost, and the arrival of his fiancée, her brother, and his family. Sebastian’s new estate sits on the south coast, England’s most vulnerable location, and Napoleon has set his sights on conquering the area. Amid this growing turmoil, Sebastian must sort out his feelings for his fiancée’s brother and keep his home safe . . . and determine if he has the courage to reach for his own happiness in the process.

Reviewed By: J9

In a Nutshell: Good historical romance but wish the relationship development was more the focus and not the mystery plot.

The Set Up: Sebastian never expected to  become a duke but when his cousin mysteriously dies he knows his duty and agrees to it. Sebastian’s aunt sets up an engagement with Dorothea, his deceased cousin’s betrothed. Dorothea’s older brother is Captain William Carlisle, a man who barely survived his time in India and who is now determined to live his life to the fullest, including loving men as he’s always desired. Sebastian and William develop feelings for each other but with Dorothea between them and mysterious happenings at the new ducal estate, it’s doubtful they can ever have a life together.

Why I Read This Book: Historical MM romance is too rare and I gobble it up whenever I can get it.

What I Liked: Unlike a lot of historical MM romance this one felt real. The fears of Sebastian and William about their “unnatural” attraction felt real to the times and provided the tension of keeping the men apart. Likewise, their attraction for each other felt a little clandestine and full of unrequited passion and this provided lots of yearning and contemplation from both characters that I liked. But the best part of this relationship is the epilogue which showed how Sebastian and William lived their life together—realistic but lovely.

What I Also Liked: The secondary characters of Dorothea and Sebastian’s family felt very real too. Dorothea skirted the edge of a villain for a bit but the author refused to make even the secondary characters two-dimensional and instead made them as real as Sebastian and William.

Mixed Results: First, let me acknowledge that this isn’t your average MM romance. The eroticism is barely R rated and the unlike a lot of books in the genre, the men spend WAY more time outta bed then in. Sebastian and William’s relationship was slow moving, as was the story, with just enough sexual and emotional intimacy to keep my attention. I do admit though, that the author wrote arousal scenes very well. For example, William and Sebastian are riding in a carriage with other people and the touching of thighs and the sideways glances held more sexual longing than lots of bedroom antics in some books I’ve read.

What I Didn’t Like: What prevents me from giving this a full 4 frogs is that the mystery plot became the book’s focus once the leads, and story, moved locations from London to Sussex. Instead of the book staying with William and Sebastian’s relationship development it became more about the mystery plot and how it would unfold so the men could get their HEA. This slowed the book for me tremendously.

IMO: Even with my issues I enjoyed this read. I’ll also look for book two in the series as I liked this realistic exploration of an MM romance set in historical times.

J9’s Rating:
3 1/2 Frogs

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About J9: Vegan. Avid runner. Android addict. Never without a book in hand. Currently devouring MM romance but reads historial romance and paranormal romance as well. Follow J9 on Twitter.


  1. This looks really good. I also really enjoy MM Historical romances; especially when they feel more authentic. I thought Provoked by Joanna Chambers fit in that category. I've enjoyed a lot of other mm historical romances, but they definitely feel like they are set in a fantasy version of the Regency/Victorian times.

  2. Hmm I was thinking I need to try this one. Might still need to :) I haven't read full m/m yet but have read a few historicals where there were m/m relations included. It is an interesting combo for sure. Glad you enjoyed it even with a couple little things not working all the way for ya!


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