Read At Your Pleasure by Meredith Duran Online

at-your-pleasure

By candlelight she lures him...Glittering court socialites and underworld cutpurses alike know that Adrian Ferrers, Earl of Rivenham, is the most dangerous man in London. Rivenham will let nothing—not the deepening shadow of war, nor the growing darkness within him—interfere with his ambition to restore his family to its former glory. But when tasked by the king to uncoverBy candlelight she lures him...Glittering court socialites and underworld cutpurses alike know that Adrian Ferrers, Earl of Rivenham, is the most dangerous man in London. Rivenham will let nothing—not the deepening shadow of war, nor the growing darkness within him—interfere with his ambition to restore his family to its former glory. But when tasked by the king to uncover a traitor, he discovers instead a conspiracy—and a woman whose courage awakens terrible temptations. To save her is to risk everything. To love her might cost his life.At swordpoint she defies him...Lady Leonora knows that Rivenham is the devil in beautiful disguise— and that the irresistible tension between them is as unpredictable as the dilemma in which Nora finds herself: held hostage on her own estate by Rivenham and the king's men. But when war breaks out, Nora has no choice but to place her trust in her dearest enemy—and pray that love does not become the weapon that destroys them both....

Title : At Your Pleasure
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9781451606959
Format Type : Mass Market Paperback
Number of Pages : 387 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

At Your Pleasure Reviews

  • Lyuda
    2018-11-06 12:23

    4.5 starsOne of the most emotionally intense HRs I've read in a long time.Across England, 1715 was a year marked by treasonous rumors, riots, and repressions… and, ultimately, war.It takes such a masterful author as Meredith Duran to bring the turbulent and fascinating time period in English history to life. This is what I liked best in the story- the vivid atmosphere that the author created. It made me hold my breath with anticipation. It forced me to leave my 21st century sensibilities behind to understand the characters’ behaviors and motivations better. The history in this book is not just some theatrical prompt, or endless recital of historical facts but living, breathing, and ever changing stormy surrounding. And in the middle of this historical storm are our main characters with their conflicting loyalties, often opposite motivations, fighting for what they think is right and just, torn apart by internal and external forces. This is the second chance story. Adrian and Nora had been cruelly separated by their families due to religious differences and politics. She was forced to marry someone else, he had abandoned his Catholic faith and aligned himself with Queen Anne and later King George I. When they met again six years later, she is a widow bound to protect her family home while her father and brother, political opponents of the Hanoverian monarchy, flew to France to escape prosecution but were plotting to return and install the rightful English King, James Stuart, on the throne. Anticipating a secret return of Nora’s brother, Adrian has been sent to arrest him and bring to London to face a trial for treason. Right from the start I wanted to sympathize with Nora who was caught between a rock and a hard place. Her family loyalty were in direct conflict with her love for Adrian. She is a strong, brave and determined woman who has suffered through pain and sorrow but continued to show courage, who will do anything to protect her family and land. The more the story progressed the more it became evident that her father and brother are using Nora to play dangerous political games. And because Nora didn’t want to see it or didn’t want to admit it or didn’t want to believe it, I really became impatient with her. I wanted to shake her, wanted to yell: “Open your eyes, they are using you as a pawn in their treacherous game.” But this is me in the 21st century and wanting her to behave accordingly. The power of the author’s characterization is how with all the annoyance and impatience I felt for Nora, I still could understand her motivations and eventually could admire her resolve and “coming to see the light” transformation. Adrian is a very compelling hero. His love for Nora is one constant in the ever-changing sea of intrigues, plots, and revenges. He’s a wonderfully complex intelligent character capable of tenderness and compassion, ruthlessly protective of what is his. Some may find his approach to remove Nora’s blinders somewhat objectionable but desperate times called for desperate measures.Beautifully written, carefully constructed this is a historical romance at its best.If you’re a fan of lighthearted HRs with flawless characters, this may not be your cup of tea. If, on the other hand, you like darker and more intense HRs with fascinatingly flawed characters, try this for sure.

  • Anne
    2018-10-24 14:21

    This is not the sort of book one picks up on a whim. It's the kind of book that weaves a dark complicated spell on you. It entwines you in the complex, and can I say volatile, relationship of two people destiny has forced apart. A couple taunted by fate, with its twists and turns and intrigue is determined to keep apart. Star crossed lovers = Nora and Adrian. Make that sun crossed, moon crossed and any other kind of astrologically crossed too.So I am an English major, love historical fiction and romance, and this book -- oh it captivated me. It's dense with emotion, rich with description, sizzles with chemistry -- all with historical accuracy and the tendrils of court intrigue and period historical details. I was a goner as soon as I realized it was about the Hanover period and touched on the 1st Jacobite rebellion. Sigh. Anyway, it adds to, it doesn't detract from the story line. The story is complicated by Nora's family, which of course is on the opposite side of the rebellion from Adrian. The same Adrian who has made it his life's work to reveal Nora's father and brother as the traitors they are. Nora feels a threat from Adrian -- a threat to her family, and to herself, because when she is near him she could risk anything again -- and be devastated again. And I kept saying to her "yes! He's a good man! Trust him! Dump your idiot brother and your dad who have done nothing but make your life miserable!" She is blinded by the hurt she feels about the way she believes Adrian treated her. She married a vile, older man who abused her. The fact that she can still believe in love, still honor her family, is testimony to its importance in her life.Adrian, well he's one deep, tortured and dazzling man. His ties to his family, his religion, and desire for revenge, or an accounting of the way Nora's family screwed up his life are integral to him as a character. But his love remains for Nora, and it blindsides him. Sigh. Thank goodness for happy endings. I adored this book. Buy it if you need to be captivated. Skip it if you want to be amused. Meredith Duran I am anxiously awaiting whatever comes next because you never cease to amaze me.

  • Caz
    2018-11-17 17:29

    I picked this up in response to this month’s TBR Challenge prompt:Read a book by an author who has more than one book on your TBR pile.It’s true – while I’m a huge fan of Meredith Duran’s writing, I have more than one of her books I still haven’t read. In my defence, it’s because I save them up for when I’ve had a run of mediocre reads and can’t face another one! But the TBR Challenge was a good reason to pick one of them up – and I had no hesitation whatsoever in deciding that it would be this book. It’s set at a time which is not often featured in historical romance or historical fiction, which made it a shoe-in.I freely admit that the transition from Stuart to Hanoverian monarchy is a period of history I don’t know much about, for all that I regard myself as a bit of an amateur historian. But I didn’t need to keep one eye on Wikipedia as I was reading, because Ms Duran does a splendid job of explaining why the characters have adopted their particular loyalties, why the conflicts between them exist, and weaving all the necessary information about the complicated political situation into her story without making it seem like a history lesson.But given this is a book in which the main cause of the conflict between the two central characters is political and religious, I wanted a little more historical context and background. It’s absolutely NOT necessary in order to enjoy the book – it’s just me :)This next part is me indulging in historical geekery, so please feel free to skip the next couple of paragraphs to the actual book review!The novel is set in 1715, the year after the death of the last Stuart monarch (Queen Anne). In the last years of her reign when it became apparent that she was not going to be able to bear an heir to succeed her, negotiations were undertaken with her second cousin, George of Hanover, who subsequently became George I. George wasn’t her closest living male relative, but he was the closest one who was acceptable to the British government and the British people, by virtue of the fact that he was a Protestant.This was another period of great unrest and uncertainty in Britain, less than one hundred years after a bloody civil war which led to the execution of the king and the brief establishment of a republic. The Jacobite cause, which wanted to see the son of James II upon the throne, was principally supported by Britain’s Catholics (James had been deposed in 1688 because of his espousal of that religion), but he also had his supporters amongst the (Protestant) English political elite. And now, with discontent brewing over the choice of Anne’s successor, it seemed as though the country was in for another war, or even a revolution.The situation of Catholics in England at the time was still a precarious one, despite the supposed religious freedoms introduced under Elizabeth I and taken further under Cromwell. Catholics were not permitted to hold positions of political power or vote, they could not worship openly, and they still risked fines, confiscation of property and imprisonment.Here endeth the geekery!Amidst all this political unrest and subversion, Ms Duran spins a terrific tale of love and betrayal, forgiveness and redemption. Leonora, the widowed Lady Towe, is the daughter of Lord Hoxton and sister of David Colville, both of whom have been stripped of their lands and titles because they have been plotting against the new king. The family is not Catholic, but rather, are political opponents of the Hanoverian monarchy, and father and son have fled to France where they continue to plot, basically abandoning Nora and leaving her alone to manage Hodderby, the home for which she has a deep and abiding love. Hoxton is settled at the Court of the Pretender in France, but Nora is in daily expectation of her brother’s return, even while knowing how dangerous it will be for him to set foot in England.Adrian Ferrars, Earl of Rivenham has been sent to arrest Colville and bring him to London to face trial and, almost certainly, execution for treason. Nora is stunned at Adrian’s unexpected appearance, and not just because she knows the danger he represents to her brother. Their family estates border each other, so Adrian, David and Nora grew up together; and six years earlier, Adrian and Nora had fallen deeply in love and had a brief affair. When Nora’s father discovered their relationship, the pair were brutally separated, for Adrian was a Catholic, and thus not a suitable husband for the daughter of a high-ranking, Protestant family.Their short-lived affair ended bitterly and violently, with Nora believing Adrian abandoned her to the fate forced upon her by her father (marriage to an older, abusive man) and Adrian believing she deserted him in order to do her father’s bidding and marry a rich man of his choice.Adrian barely escaped David’s brutality with his life, and was then bundled off to France by his family for his own protection. Upon his return some years later, he renounced his faith and by virtue of his intelligence, charm and wits, rose quickly through the ranks of the court to become a trusted advisor to Queen Anne, and has retained his position under the new king. The few times Adrian and Nora crossed each other’s paths at Court, he ignored her, causing her to believe he hated her; and the only way she can deal with that is to tell herself that she despises him. Their reunion is barbed and bitter, both of them haunted by memories of betrayal and heart-break and determined to convince the other of their utter indifference. Adrian is cold and cruel and Nora meets his harshness with sharp-tongued defiance, determined to protect her property and her brother, sometimes to the point of stupidity. What she doesn’t know is that Adrian is walking a political tightrope. He became a recusant in order to keep his own family safe from the sort of brutality inflicted upon him by the Colvilles – but he is still regarded with suspicion by many (especially those who are jealous of his position and influence) and has been given the job of bringing in David Colville as a way of proving his loyalty. If he succeeds, he will further cement his position of power at court – if he fails, his enemies will immediately accuse him of collaborating with Colville. And the Jacobite supporters want him out of the way so they can continue in their mission to restore a Stuart to the throne. With his political enemies prepared to join forces in order to bring Adrian down, he is prone to attack from all directions and decides there is only one way he can do what he must and keep Nora safe at the same time.With the undercurrent of attraction that still swirls between them proving harder and harder to deny, the two begin an uneasy rapprochement. The devastating truth about what happened six years ago is revealed, and the barriers between them – barriers not of their own making – begin to break down. But even so, Adrian must ignore Nora’s wishes and act to protect her in a way which threatens to destroy their re-kindling relationship; to protect her from herself as much as from those outside forces which seek his destruction.Ms Duran’s story is utterly compelling, as are her two central characters. Adrian is a wonderful hero, a man who can be ruthless and uncompromising when he has to be, but who also shows a remarkable capacity for tenderness and consideration. The depth of his love for Nora drives him to desperate measures, it’s true, but that love is never in question. Nora is a little more difficult to warm to, primarily because of the blind loyalty she shows toward David, who has put her in danger time and again. I found myself frequently wanting to scream at Nora to just cut the cord and leave him to fend for himself! Even though he is preparing to marry her off to another man to further his own ends, and after Adrian has revealed to her the extent of his duplicity six years before, she can’t bring herself to wash her hands of him. Loyalty is an admirable trait most of the time, but in this, Nora really is her own worst enemy.Much mention is made of the helplessness of women in the society of the time; Nora, like most well-born young women, was regarded by her father as not much more than property, a useful pawn to be used in order to secure wealth, position and influence, and she is constantly frustrated by the way she is so often dismissed and treated as though she is not a person in her own right. Yet she is clever, stubborn, and courageous; her motives might not always be clear-sighted or in her best interests, but she possesses a great inner strength:“He could not admire her destructive loyalty to her brother. But it was born of the steel at her core. As a girl, she had not disguised that steel, speaking boldly, daring the world to cross her. But now that she carried it concealed, it took on a new element of power, like the hidden stiletto that could save a man's life when all else was stripped from him ... men too often mistook bravado for courage. Her courage was not wasted on display.But what a wealth of riches she offered to those who possessed her loyalties. She put her whole self into their defense and never accepted defeat. Even if her wits saw the weakness in a cause, she would sacrifice herself for the sake of honor.” At Your Pleasure is a beautifully developed romance with real emotional depth set against a fascinating historical background. I found it to be an intense read with very little to lighten the tension and there are some scenes which make for downright uncomfortable reading - but I loved the intrigue and that feeling of walking the thin line along with the characters. The writing itself is gorgeous, and I applaud Ms Duran for the way she shows us the grey areas that are part of the lives of these characters and the tough decisions they have to make.

  • Elis Madison
    2018-11-07 11:46

    My first thought…Yay!! It's not a Regency!!! I hadn't realized how weary I was of them until I picked this up. And the second bonus—this story takes place in a period that isn't much written about. Queen Anne has recently died, and, though there are dozens of closer relations, they're all Catholic. Problem is, this is just around the time Catholics were debarred from the throne. So the nation has to reach all the way to Hanover…to find a Protestant heir, George I, who didn't even speak English. (And kinda looked like a guy(?) who might not beget heirs anytime soon…)It was a tetchy time in England, and a good many aristocrats preferred James III and VIII. Rebellions and war loomed in every directionAdrian, Earl of Rivenham, had renounced his Catholic faith awhile back to protect his family, and has become a powerful, much-feared servant of George I. He's sent to occupy the Colville estate—the last lands remaining to the family—and root out suspected traitor David Colville, who was once a friend of his. Instead, he finds that David's sister Nora lives there and holds down the fort for her absent brother. Naturally, there's history there. Nora and Adrian were lovers once, but when his affections for her became known, her brothers (including David) chained, beat, and damned near killed him, and when he escaped and went to rescue Nora, he found that the girl he'd assumed would be faithful to the end had already wed another man. Since that day, Adrian has been a cold and bitter man, and now he wants…In other words, he won't hesitate to hand Nora to the flames and David to the headsman (how's come women had it so much worse?) once he proves they're traitors.So yeah, Adrian's jerk for a good bit of the book, subjecting Nora to Gitmo-style inquisition methods until she shares a few dark secrets—not about David, but about what happened to her after (she was told) he deserted her. Then he's still an ass, but at least it's for a better reason.This one gets three stars because I liked the characters (by the end—not so much at the start, but character growth is an awesome plus), an extra star because it's not a Regency, and another extra star because by God, the author actually used real history to progress the plot! Yup, this is one of those rare books that earns a place on my keeper shelves and deserves every one of its 5 stars.

  • Sarah
    2018-10-27 15:17

    This is the first Meredith Duran where the romance just didn't work for me, and I'm honest-to-god bummed out about even saying that. Her writing is still pitch-perfect, and I wish every romance novelist working in historical form could capture her sense of time and place. Sadly, this is the first time I have actively loathed a heroine. Nora has had some terrible things happen to her, it's true, but her loyalty to her family came off as sheer stubborn idiocy. While I enjoyed the trope reversal of the hero being madly in love against his better judgement, Nora just keeps doing the goddamn stupidest things up until the very end of the book. By the time she causes a bar fight by blindly wandering out into a rowdy tavern, I was ready to throttle her myself. In fact, I was never convinced that Adrian wasn't two steps from murdering her, nor that he particularly respected her intelligence.Adrian himself is a particularly interesting hero - a Catholic who has renounced his faith, and who is, as other reviews have stated, fairly villainous. I wanted to see him with a heroine like Mina (from Written on Your Skin), who I feel would've given him a better run for his money.All disappointment in this particular couple aside, I still think Meredith Duran is one of the most talented romance novelists on the scene, and I will wait just as eagerly for her next book as I did for this one.

  • Summer
    2018-10-30 16:21

    I feel like it's hard for me to rate Meredith Duran's books. Her writing is excellent, you totally feel sucked into her words and the plot outlines sound intriguing. However I feel like her books for me are a bit ... too complicated and dark? If that makes any sense. I just feel like they have too much angst for me and while the characters are interesting, I just don't feel a connection to them. Which seems at odd with the fact that the writing is still really good. It's this weird conundrum where I reeeeeeeeeally want to like her books more than I end up doing. In some instances it's not so bad and I can enjoy the book despite my grumblings and in others I can't. This books just ended up being grouped with the latter.

  • Dabney
    2018-10-30 16:38

    Dear Ms. Duran—As I read At Your Pleasure, I wondered if you will ever write a book I dislike. It seems unlikely. I love three of the books you’ve written and the two I don’t love—A Lady’s Lesson in Scandal and Wicked Becomes You—I like tremendously. I am enamored of your use of language, your deftness of plots, the complexity of your lovers’ relationships, and the crackling chemistry in your love scenes. In short, I am a big fan.So, it shouldn’t surprise anyone I think At Your Pleasure is a very good book. Its hero, Adrian, might be my favorite of all your heroes—although I am terribly partial to Phin (from Written on Your Skin) and Julian (from The Duke of Shadows.) The historical context of the novel, the year 1715, a year after the coronation of the Hanoverian King George, is an unusual and fascinating one. So often the conflict between lovers centers around class but in this book, the line that divides Adrian and Nora, the heroine, is that of religion.In 1715, in England, Catholics, even Catholic aristocrats, lived under restrictive laws. There were limits on the right to own and inherit property. Catholics paid special taxes, couldn’t have their children educated in Catholic schools, worship openly, or vote. The Settlement Act of 1701 forbad any Catholic or anyone married to a Catholic from sitting on the throne. At the same time, a significant number of the Tory peerage, most of whom were not Catholic, wanted to see a Scottish Catholic, James Stuart, on the throne rather than the current king, German born George I. It was a fraught time rife with tenuous political alliances.Your heroine, Nora, the widowed Marchioness of Towe, is a Colville and her family is fiercely Tory. The Colvilles have been punished for their abiding loyalty to the Stuart King. Her father, now stripped of his titles and most of his wealth and property, is hiding out in France, plotting with those who would overthrow the current king. Her brother, David, is on the run, hiding in France and then in England, determined, at any cost, to implement his father’s dreams. Nora is the only one of her family living openly in England, in the family seat of Hodderby. Nora doesn’t necessarily share the sentiments of the men in her family but she is deeply loyal to her brother and will do whatever he asks of her, no matter how much it risks her happiness and/or safety. One of the most deadly things David has done is fill the wine casks in the cellars of Hodderby with volatile gunpowder which he plans to use in the upcoming Jacobite rebellion. Nora can tell no one of her brother’s plans—he’s a traitor to the crown—and she lives each day in trepidation, afraid the goals of her father and brother will destroy not only her, but Hodderby which she alone loves.One night, as Nora readies for bed, a party of riders from the King arrives, led by Adrian Ferrers, the Earl of Rivenham. Rivenham, a favored Whig advisor to King George, carries a Writ of Parliament allowing him and his men unfettered access to Hodderby. Adrian has the right to stay as long as he pleases, command all who live there, and search the house freely. His ultimate goal is to flush out David Colville who will then be taken to the Tower and tried for his traitorous crimes. Adrian Ferrers loathes David Colville for more than just the latter’s politics. Adrian still feels the wound on his shoulder given to him, eight years ago, by David on the night David almost killed Adrian for the crime of loving Nora.Nora, David, and Adrian grew up together—Rivenham land abuts that of the Colvilles. The Rivenhams, however, are a Catholic family and the Colvilles are of the Church of England. Adrian and Nora fell in love when they were young and both paid a terrible price for doing so. Adrian was beaten within an inch of his life by David, and shipped, by his family, to France to escape the wrath of the then powerful Colvilles. Nora was forced by her family to marry a cruel man in order to cover up her affair with Adrian. Adrian, when he returned to from France to England, was determined, at all costs, to protect his family from the sort of violence inflicted upon him by the Colvilles and their like. He renounced Catholicism, and used his charm, intellect, and will to become a powerful man in the English Court. His Catholic background makes him a target of many in the Court—if Adrian captures David, a Tory Jacobite traitor, and sees him hung, Adrian will augment his political power in the Court.Nora is devastated to encounter Adrian again. For years, after she was married and he’d returned to England, she would see him at Court, and he never once spoke to her. She believes he hates her and, when she realizes he’s come to Hodderby to destroy her family, she tells herself she hates him too. When Adrian installs himself at Hodderby, he initially treats her cruelly, and she, terrified he will discover all she is doing for her brother, responds with defiance. Adrian is sure Nora knows the whereabouts of David and he pushes her hard, even torturing her with sleep deprivation. As the days pass, though, and Nora and Adrian begin to talk about their past which is full of tragedy and unshared secrets, their relationship shifts. They wend their way from enmity to something else, full of danger and desire. There seems no possible way they could ever find happiness together and yet, the longer Adrian is at Hodderby, the more he and Nora are drawn to one another.Please go to Dear Author to read the rest of the review: http://dearauthor.com/book-reviews/ov...

  • Mandi Schreiner
    2018-10-28 16:46

    “A villain’s love is not a comfortable thing,” he said. “But I promise, I will endeavor to make it a pleasure to you.”And so goes our hero…a very villainous one at that. What makes it even better, is the heroine’s response to the above quote.“Wipe your face, jackanapes. Or would you prefer that I slap it off?”To her disbelief, he laughed softly. “You may try.”This comes after the halfway point in the book, which I think is fabulous because the author makes this couple work so, so hard for their HEA. But let’s back up and set up this well done historical romance.Set in 1715, this book takes place a very tumultuous time in England. The crown has passed to George I, skipping over James Stuart due to his Catholic faith. The shift in politics is extreme, and many who secretly support James Stuart start political and religious upheaval. Lady Nora Towe is in a tricky position. She is a widow with only her brother David left as family. While she is close with her brother, she knows he is involved in treasonous activities and she is caught in the middle. Trying to keep her estate safe and prosperous, but also feeling the duty to help her brother any way she can. David has become sloppy with his movements, and the crown has got wind that he has left James Stuart’s side and may be headed back toward his family home within a matter of days. So they send Adrian Ferrers and a group of men to wait at the house until he arrives, to ambush him and drag him back to London. Not only is Nora basically kept in jail at her house under Adrian’s orders, but she is now faced with the man that broke her heart many years ago.As young adults, Adrian and Nora fell in love, but it was not an easy relationship. And when he ended up forced to leave, Nora thought he had left her forever. Under duress, she married another man, only to have Adrian struggling as hard as possible to get back to her. Due to miscommunication, she thought he left her forever, and he thought she moved on quite quickly.Now six years later, he is back in her house and they both harbor ill feelings towards each other. Telling her he is going to arrest her brother and giving her orders to not leave her house does not help matters. All of those feelings of love and lust get dredged up but confused with this new, cold, harsh Adrian.At Your Pleasure has a heroine who loves her brother and feels a duty to be loyal to him, even though she knows he may be acting treasonous. But there is no black and white here. The religious upheaval is so immense and emotions and whispers of an uprising are intense. Adrian himself was a Catholic, but to save himself, and to survive he took loyalty to the new king, now his close advisor. He still walks on thin ground, knowing he has many enemies just waiting for him to make a wrong move. The tension in this book envelopes many things. Not only is David, Nora, and Adrian playing with fire with their religious and political dealings, but there is also the tension between them due to their personal lives.Adrian and Nora once had great love for each other, but due to events, they were forced apart. There is good reason for it, and a very good reason for Nora to feel such despair, but I don’t want to share that with you due to spoiling. But once Adrian hears of this news he didn’t know about, there is a shift in their relationship. Adrian goes from having such harsh feelings towards to Nora, to something else. But their relationship never becomes one of sunshine and rainbows, and that is what I love so much about this book. There are so many grey areas,that although love is eventually declared, their lives are not perfect. Things are still muddled. There is a definite HEA, one I believed in completely, but it still matched the more dire tone of the book.The writing in this book is so engaging. I didn’t want to miss a sentence. I think the dialogue both spoken and internal is so well done and smart. Nora struggles so much with her devotion to her brother, and her rising devotion to Adrian. She is a woman caught in the middle of two strong men, and she is portrayed so well. Stubborn, smart, grieving, and sometimes downright pissed off. I love that when she was in London in court, she was not witty or beautiful. She was portrayed as boring and disliked. But she ignites passion in Adrian, and as their romance unfolds, their romance is very, very sensual in this book.Adrian and Nora inspire such passion and emotion within each other. When Adrian decides he must have her as a wife, to keep her safe (they have yet to reconcile at this point), Nora has other ideas:“You did not speak of my brother on the stair. You spoke of marriage, and I will not have it.”“But you will,” he said very softly.Goose bumps rose on her skin.“Your brother will not touch you,” he continued, his words still low, as though he sought to lull her into believing them. “As a Ferrers, you cannot be touched. You will be safe, and so, this place you love: I swear it to you.”Her scoff seemed to explode, echoing around them. “Such charitable motives!”And she drove her knife into his arm.At Your Pleasure has a marvelous villain hero, which turns into an extremely sensuous romance, with suspense and action throughout. One of my favorite reads in 2012 so far.Rating: A

  • Janga
    2018-11-16 17:28

    Meredith Duran is quite simply one of the best writers I’ve read. Her characterization is superb, her plots compelling, and her prose lucid and powerful. She also offers her readers the gift of difference in a genre more accustomed to sameness. Duran sets At Your Pleasure in England in 1715, the year after the coronation of George I. The possibility of a Jacobite rebellion was real; some scholars believe it was a more serious threat that the rebellion of 1745. Most readers of historical romance fiction are familiar with the rudiments of the latter rebellion, having encountered references to Bonnie Prince Charlie, the Battle of Culloden, and Cumberland’s brutal suppression in novels from Georgette Heyer’s The Masqueraders to those by Veryan, Gabaldon, Canham, and countless others. The political climate of England in 1715 when Catholics, including Catholic aristocrats, were denied the right to worship, to vote, to be educated is less familiar. Duran captures the realities of the period without slamming her readers in the face with a history book. And she combines historical accuracy with emotionally credible actions and reactions. Nora and David appear to be lovers for whom a happy ending is impossible. Duran makes the reader fear for them, root for them, and rejoice when the HEA is achieved. If you like your romances intense, dark, emotional, and romantic in the truest sense, you will not want to miss At Your Pleasure.See full review at The Romance Dish:http://www.theromancedish.com/2012/03...

  • OLT
    2018-11-14 19:21

    No fairy tale love for the H and h of this book. They manage their HEA only through blood, sweat and tears and the reader is along for the emotional rollercoaster ride with them. I was wowed by this HR. It's a mass market paperback "tour de force", one of those that doesn't come along very often, very well written and very deserving of the classification "historical".Most HRs take place either in Regency England, early 1800s, or Victorian England (1837-1901) with the occasional Georgian, but the Georgians I've read usually take place during the reign of George III. This Georgian takes place in 1715, at the end of the reign of Queen Anne and the beginning of that of George I, the German-speaking Hanoverian transplanted to rule England. It's a time of unrest between the Papists and the Protestants, with the Papist Jacobites favoring Scottish James Stuart's claim to the throne rather than German George I.Our hero and heroine are caught in this unrest. Years ago they had been lovers. Politics, religion and the heroine's own family separated them cruelly. She married another, he aligned himself politically with Queen Anne and later King George I, while her father and brother became Jacobites and are persona non grata to the English government.Six years after their estrangement circumstances bring them together. It's not an easy romance to read. Time and misunderstandings have done quite a number on their relationship, which seems to have changed from love to distrust and even hatred. However, this is a romance and you read it assuming that all will be well at the end, though you may have doubts about the HEA many times along the way.It's truly the best HR I've read in many moons. Duran is the equal of Joanna Bourne, Judith James and Julia Ross and has outdone herself with this, her latest work. One caveat: If you are the fan of lighter HRs such as those written by Elizabeth Boyle, Lynsay Sands, Tessa Dare, Julia Quinn, etc., this may not be your cup of tea. If you enjoy the darker, more intense and more historical type of romance, this is definitely one to read.

  • Borders Broad
    2018-10-23 11:17

    What separates Duran from many historical romance writers is that she can write. Thus, I do hold her to a higher standard when it comes to plot. While At Your Pleasure was a nice read it wasn't a great one. The tale of young lovers torn apart by circumstances beyond their control. Adrian, a king's man, comes to apprehend a traitor to the crown, Nora's brother. (Duran tries to set her romance in a particular historical period, but the setting doesn't really matter. This is not a Phillipa Gregory novel. The background serves to set up tension automatically.) Hence, part of my issue with this novel is that the foundation for Adrian and Nora's love is flimsy. A brief prologue sets the tone of a love gone awry yet the later explanations and justification for this as a true love, overcoming overwhelming obstacles past and present, second guessing between both protagonists, superseding familial love is not all that convincing. I enjoyed Duran's use of wordplay betwixt Adrian and Nora. Aside from this there are no deep roots here. I like Duran and will continue to read her novels. Hopefully, she will be inspired to greater heights. On a more superficial note, I love the novel's cover. The model is stunning and encapsulates what I think Nora would look like.

  • Noura
    2018-11-11 19:28

    Is there such a thing as too much honour?Lady Towe/Leonora "Nora" Colville is an 18th century woman, lady of an estate and sister to a rebel. She has dutifully managed the estate she lives in in the absence of her father and brother who has ran off to France as political fugitives. Lord Rivenham/ Adrian Ferrer is an agent of the king and also happens to be Nora's adolescent boyfriend/ lover. They were separated because he's a Catholic and she's a Protestant (at that time this was a no-go combo)and because of a lot of other reasons that will come into light only towards half of the story. So what happens when your ex-bf comes in and declare you under house arrest? How do you keep secret stuff kept in the castle by your absent brother a secret when the king's men are also under one roof? How can you keep both your ex-bf and your errant bro alive and away from one another when a woman is powerless and a nobody back in those time?When i first started reading this book i did not expect it to be a story of an 18th century MCs because the ones before were from the late 19th century. And so i was sorely reminded of why i have never really liked stories from that era because the womenfolk were very very very dependent on men on every single thing be it by choice or by force (ugh!!!) and were always treated lesser than men. So in this case it is very much a matter of preference on my part.I also found the storyline slow and repetitive in it's mood. For the most parts of the story, it was very much a story of Nora's internal turmoil and dilemma over Adrian:Heroine: I don't like him because he seems so cold and different now but i get weak when he touches me with just one finger......I shouldn't like him but i think i still do....but i don't want to betray my brother (who's a bit of an inconsiderate a-hole although he genuinely cares for me) and i don't want my ex and bf to fight each other or die. And I have so much honour i will not betray my brother although he told me to help him keep secret dangerous stuff under my home and put everyone in danger.Hero: I still have feelings for her but i'll play it cool. Oops...I am kind of ashamed of what i've done. I want her so bad that i'll get her by whatever means. I am man so i know how to save everyone so leave everything to me. I have to say that for 3/4 of the story it was a painful read for me. The dilemma just went on and on...but since i am the kind of person who is determined to finish the book (also i was hoping that the ending would be worth the slog), i managed to reach the almost HEA at the end. So i just cannot bring myself to give more than 3 stars for this one. The story is just not my cup of tea.

  • Ania
    2018-10-26 12:39

    First of all, thank you Ashley for recommending this book!I have to admit that every time I read a Meredith Duran book I struggle to understand how everyone isn't talking about her. Her writing is amazing, it pulls you right in from the start and it never disappoints - from the characters to the plot, it's usually very consistent and fascinating!I loved Nora and Adrian's story. Her martyr act had me a bit annoyed in the beginning, especially given how we know Adrian's side straight off, while hers you only find out about in the middle. Once I did though, I couldn't imagine what she went through.Their story captivated me from the very beginning, I loved every single aspect of it - the Jacobite cause, Nora's protection of her brother, and Adrian's protection of Nora, above everything else. I love angst and boy, did this book deliver it.I'm super happy I have more of Duran's books to look forward to!

  • Kit
    2018-10-30 18:37

    Meredith Duran continues to amaze as she challenges her writing talents to capture different historical time periods with an intensity that is riveting. One easily forgets reading the regency period that just a century earlier life was perilous at best. Adrian and Leonora's romance is centered in the strife of political and religious upheaval. Adrian (Earl of Rivenham) was easy to fall for from page one, it was Leonora (Lady Towe) who was defined by a fierce family honor that was painful to read at some points in the story. Her loyalty bordered on self destruction for a good part of the book. This was not a romance that I could whiz through- each word mattered. The end of the story was well worth the heartbreaking pages where I wanted to shake her.

  • Malin
    2018-10-23 18:22

    The year is 1715, and England is a divided county, with a lot of complicated political and religious unrest. Lady Eleonora is a young widow, who's put in a very difficult position when an agent of the Crown comes to search her brother's estate, where he has weapons and barrels of gunpowder buried in the basement, to be used in a Jacobite rebellion against King George I. If the weapons are found, Nora and her brother will be tried for treason. Making the situation even harder is the fact that the King's agent is Adrian Ferrers, the Earl of Rivenham, and Nora's first love.Adrian used to be a Catholic, and Nora's family refused to let them marry, forcing Nora into an unhappy marriage with an older, violent man. Now that she's a widow, she wants nothing more than to manage her brother's estate for him (a place she loves, but has no rights to, being a mere woman in a time when women were considered chattel). Adrian, however, doesn't know that Nora was forced, and believes she faithlessly abandoned him. Having converted to Protestantism and worked his way up in Queen Anne's court, he's now helping King George track down and stop Jacobite rebels. He knows Nora's brother is guilty, he now needs to know if she's willingly abetting him, or unaware of his doings and whereabouts.During Adrian's siege of the estate, he learns just how miserable Nora's marriage was, how much she lost when her family discovered her youthful tryst with Adrian, and that she thought he'd abandoned her. Can the lovers be reunited, even though they are on opposite sides of the political and religious divide?This book was a huge disappointment to me, made even more so by the fact that I rate Meredith Duran's previous novels so very highly, with several of them being among my all time favourites. Add to that the fact that this book's been very favourably reviewed by a lot of reviewers whose opinions I trust on the internet, so my expectations were high. As it was, only stubbornness, and the desperate hope that it would get better at some point if I only kept reading, allowed me to finish the book and not quit it in anger and disgust.While Nora should probably be pitied, being a woman in a time when they were completely at the mercy of the men in their lives, and treated like property, I just wanted to reach into the book and slap her, hard and repeatedly, for her incredible stupidity. Even though she owes her brother nothing (he helped sell her into marriage to an abusive man) and knows he's committing treason, she helps him endanger her life and those of all the people on the estate she loves, by letting him bury huge amounts of very volatile and dangerous explosives under the manor house. She keeps protecting him, even after it's clear that he intended to marry her off to a cousin, again without even asking how she felt about the match.Adrian is no prince, either. He tortures Nora by depriving her of sleep for several days, acts in an incredibly arrogant and high-handed way towards her, and even marries her by force (she's bound and gagged at the time) because he's decided that it's what's best for her. Even with all this, he's still the more sympathetic of the two, and that should tell you how insufferably idiotic Nora was.The only reason I'm giving the book 2 stars is because even though I hated the main characters, and had to force myself to finish the book, Duran still has a magnificent grasp of language and should also be commended for writing a novel set in a different time period than most historical romances. The book is very well researched and written, I just really disliked the plot and central premise. I really hope that this was a one-time occurrence, and that Duran's next book is more to my liking. I would hate for this to be the last of her books I ever read.

  • kathie
    2018-11-05 15:21

    4.5 stars...Don't read this book if you are in the mood for something light, fluffy or silly. This is a very intense, drama filled read. The hero, Adrian, and the heroine Nora lived on neighboring estates and met as very young adults and fell in love and had a passionate affair. Once her family learned of their relationship, they plotted to keep them apart because did not approve of Adrian primarily because he was Catholic. She was forced to marry an older man. This all occurred in 1709. The story really begins six years later and Nora is now a widow and Adrian is now the Earl of Rivenham. Acting on behalf of the new German born King, Adrian has taken possession of Nora's family home. Adrian has renounced his Catholic faith and sided with the German born King. Nora's family, her father and brother, have taken the side of James Stuart (Scotland) and have sided with the Jacobites. This is a time of war and turmoil in England and power struggles over who should be the rightful King. Adrian has never stopped loving Nora and all his actions center on his desire to keep her safe. Nora too has always loved Adrian but there are misunderstandings on both sides regarding the circumstances that kept them apart years ago. Working through these misunderstandings and recapturing the love they had for each other, all while facing danger from opposing factions, kept this book very interesting. Meredith Duran did a magnificent job of conveying the feel of the early 1700's. The mood she created and the use of language that felt appropriate for the time was impressive. For me, this was one of the best books I have read thus far this year.

  • Barb in Maryland
    2018-10-21 13:45

    I flat-out loved this book. Meredith Duran is one of my few auto-buy authors and all of her previous books are on my keeper shelves. And this one will join them.The writing is superb, as always. The author has a lovely turn of phrase; every word chosen for the exact effect she wants, the exact point she is trying to make.The story is fabulous and the time frame is one not much used in romance(1715 and the Jacobite Rebellion in England). The political and religious conflicts of the day shape the conflict between Adrian and Nora. There isn't a big misunderstanding keeping them apart, it's life and death matters.Adrian starts the book a such a villain, but as the story progresses we get to understand him better and better. I just loved him. Nora is a harder nut to crack. Her loyalty to her brother is commendable and understandable (and would seem to a modern woman to be misplaced). She is truly torn apart by the time she has to choose between Adrian and David, her brother. Lots and lots of angsty goodness in this book--keep the tissues handy. But I did come to like Nora and I really believe in their HEA. The final scenes of the book are just wonderful. Sigh.(Scroll down the reviews until you come to Dabney's. She says it all much better that I can)And now let's talk about that cover--Well, Nora is a brunette; the artist got that right. But really, Angelina Jolie in a faux Regency-era dress, with a slit, and tanned? Oh come on! And what exactly is she sitting on? That's a tufted headboard in the background, but the model is leaning on the arm of a Regency era settee. Why not give us the rest of the settee?? (End of rant).

  • Krista
    2018-10-21 13:46

    Much as I love Duran's lyrical prose and attention to historical detail, this one didn't work for me. I found the setting quite intriguing - so nice to visit the earlier Georgian era - and didn't mind at all the political and religious aspects of the plot (essential to this particular time, place, and story, in fact). It wasn't the hero, Adrian, either; the darkness of his character was quite believable, given what he had endured. But the heroine, Nora, made me crazy - just this side of TSTL. For all her strength and independence, she was so willfully blind and she did the flat-out stupidest things in the name of family honor and loyalty (despite the fact that no one in her family treated her well at all). Usually I adore the lost love refound motif but not this time.

  • Keri
    2018-11-15 11:43

    You will never get a typical historical romance from Ms. Duran and this gem was no exception. At times I had tears in my eyes as we uncover the truth of what occurred with Nora and Adrian 7 years ago. I just wish the ending could have been drawn out a bit to watch Nora and Adrian just be in love and not have the Sword of Damocles hanging over their heads. Lovely read though and I hate that I had it on my TBR for so long.

  • Vanessa Kelly
    2018-10-23 17:44

    Meredith Duran writes like a dream - one of the best historical romance writers on the market, IMHO. Loved the setting (early Georgian period), loved the hero and heroine. Fascinating plot, but also superbly character driven, with wonderful emotion and truly intelligent depictions of the hero and heroine. I'd give it ten stars if I could!

  • Nidofito
    2018-11-02 18:24

    Despite the fact that there were some times I wanted to smack the heroine for her mulish behaviour, and the hero was more 'villainous' in his actions, I cannot in good conscience give this book a lower grade. It is these faults and their actions which make these characters more real to me. A person might be blindingly, stupidly loyal to someone, but does that make them a bad person? No, just like another person is not evil by being cruel to someone with their words because they have been hurt. At you pleasure is so intense, with so much tension for most of the book that it was actually uncomfortable to read it at times. It's so richly defined; ever feeling, every moment instilled with so emotion that I was left impressed by how much Duran was able to give so much attention to each major 'happening' without muddling it all up.I've taken one point off because i think the book was a bit too long, and David's return was maybe put off for too long, and some other minor concerns in terms of overall story plan, even though it allowed us to spend more time with Adrian and Nora.

  • Amanda
    2018-10-29 14:34

    I'm usually a quick reader, but I took my time with this one. It's a beautifully written story, the Jacobite setting vividly portrayed. Duran interweaves history and fiction with enough detail to bring the setting to life yet not feel weighed down by it. There's something almost "old school" about this book, bringing to mind the more epic romances of previous decades. This "epicness" (yes, I'm making up a word) is on a scale with Duran's debut novel, and despite the pitfalls of the second half of that book (one reason why it's not my favorite of hers), it's something she hasn't quite matched since. Characters don't have to be "good people" for me to like them or even love them, so long as their characterizations are fully realized and their motivations compelling; throughout literature, villains endure as some of our favorites. In romance this seems counterintuitive in some ways; the villain is typically never the hero or the heroine. And yet some authors in the genre have managed to walk a fine line with this very successfully. Any number of Anne Stuart's heroes immediately come to mind; the beloved St Vincent, Kleypas's best creation; and Hoyt's Duke of Montgomery most recently (one of my favorite characters from a 2016 release, despite being a really awful person who is never quite "redeemed"). Duran does this here with Adrian. He does so many things in the name of his love for Nora that I find reprehensible, again I felt those shades of 1980s-era romances. But Duran has more skill than many of those celebrated authors whose books didn't age very well, and instead of making me throw down the book, I kept reading and praying not that Duran would make him "likable" again but that Nora would give back as good as she got. And she does. She is one of the strongest heroines I've come across in some time, and even when I became frustrated with her sense of duty and loyalty, I was amazed by the many facets of her character and how well Duran unveils them bit by bit.Our hero and heroine are both deeply flawed people who make decisions I didn't always agree with, who acted in ways that were repulsive. But they were real and their love story is one that will stick with me for a long time. I'm only sorry it took me a few years to get around to reading this one.

  • Dangermousie
    2018-11-04 18:20

    Duran is an odd duck for me - her books either elicit a 'wtf why did I waste my time?' or 'OMFG this is the best thing ever, I must tell everyone' reaction, with nothing in between. Luckily, AYP is very much the latter. I think it's going into my Top 10 romances pile. Six years ago, Adrian Ferrers and Leonora Colville were young, innocent, and very much in love. To say that it ended badly would be an understatement of the century. They haven't spoken since, but that's about to change in a massive way. Because now Adrian, who is no longer a second son and a despised Catholic, but a powerful and publicly converted to Protestantism Earl of Rivenham, and Nora, now the widowed Countess of Towe, are about to meet again. The year is 1715, there are rumors of rebellion against the newly-installed George I by the Catholic James Stewart, and Rivenham and his troops have come to find Nora's brother, who has been accused of plotting treason - the overthrow of the new King. (Yes, the irony of sending a former Catholic to root out the good Protestant who is supporting a Catholic monarch, is not lost on anyone). You guys, this is so so so so SO freaking good! I just want to roll in it, like a dog. First, a disclaimer - this is angst central, so if you want fluffy cuteness, you should probably look elsewhere. But if you like really damaged but really strong protagonists, angst that actually makes sense, and 'hero in love with heroine beyond reason, better judgement and possible beheading for treason,' this is for you. (Don't worry, heroine loves him back just as much). I especially loved that heroine's preoccupation for most of the book was honor and loyalty to her family, and that these are two very scarred, even bitter people with severely unhappy pasts and problematic family lives who don't magically become happy fluffy bunnies due to love, but do all sorts of complex, sometimes questionable things, and fight like the devil every step of the way (both each other and themselves), but they do ultimately make each other better and happier and heal each other and make each other whole. And you just know they'd brave hell for each other and I love that sort of utter, hard-won devotion. Basically, argh, I am totally failing at conveying the awesomeness of this book, but you should read it anyway!

  • Jana
    2018-10-29 12:37

    First time for all. This book's cover is the only cover so far that kept my attention since it accurately captured the leading lady of the story, flesh and blood photographed. Excellent job with the publishers. And Meredith Duran is a sweetheart, trust me on that. She's this cool enourmously gifted little woman with huge word talent. She hits my frequencies, she explains my moods and dictates my reading hours. Between the lines, her characters are real people who stand on the ground with their both feet. They are not between the two worlds, they are not delusional, they are not fake. The only maybe turn off the lights please moment for some future readers will be the fact that this romance is not dated from 1800s until the beginning of the 19th century but it happens during 1715's Jacobite Rebellion in England. Hard core readers of romances, you can handle that period, don't mislead yourself. Just don't avoid this book because of the years and because of the ton lackness.Her writing as well gets better with each new publishing and a lot of reviewers describe her as angsty. True. She's not fluffy and easy, she writes for the soul but she's not an instant balm. You first need to feel how your skin revenges. Then, line by line, tender stroke one step further, two steps back but keep your head up. I never know where her writing leads me, it goes to HEAbutDuran makes you yearn for that HEA and she delivers it. I tell you. She's a sweetheart with a signature: smart.

  • Melissa
    2018-11-08 17:29

    I liked this book, but I didn't love it. The time period during which it took place -- the 1715 Jacobite uprising -- was interesting, since I didn't know much about it, as opposed to the 1745-46 rising that led to Culloden. The religious and political aspects of the earlier conflict seem clearer to me now than they did before.I liked the story's hero, Adrian Ferrers, as well, and found his history of lost love, soldiering, abandoned Catholicism, and court politics intriguing. The heroine, Nora, was less appealing to me, with her blind loyalty to a father and brother who had treated her horribly for years. She made some really stupid decisions that frustrated me quite a bit. I just never got very swept up in their relationship and romance, which seemed to go in circles at times, with Nora's hemming and hawing about who deserved her loyalty. (Hint: the man who loves you and is trying to save your life, not the jackass brother who abandoned you and left you living --literally -- on top of a powder keg.)Meredith Duran's writing is impressive, though. She writes really beautiful, intelligent prose, her settings are vividly drawn, and her characters are three-dimensional. This is the second of her novels that I've read, and not once have I had a cringey, eye-rolling moment that took me out of the story -- something I can't say about the other historical romances I've read. Duran's a very talented writer! I'm looking forward to reading more of her books.

  • Penny Black
    2018-10-29 13:22

    Having read too many reviews of this book, I kept waiting to be overwhelmed by gut-wrenching angst and had to put the book down three times before I could overcome my reservations, which, in the end, turned out to be unfounded.By rights, I should have disliked the hero for his high-handedness, thirst for power, and arrogance. Instead, I had nothing but respect for the strength of his character and the lengths he was willing to go to ensure the heroine's safety. The depth of his love for her - especially when she was self-destructive - blew me away.Ordinarily, I would not have liked the heroine, whose behavior was detrimental to her own happiness, but I had no trouble seeing the situation her point of view. Until their marriage, her life had been a sting of bitter disappointments. She was accustomed to being used, humiliated, and abandoned, yet no matter how many times she was knocked down, she got up and kept going. Her perseverance, loyalty, and determination to do her duty won me over completely.If you are hesitating to pick up this book because of the promised darkness and despair, don't let it dissuade you. Most of the tension comes from the period setting - the time in British history rife with social, economic, and political turmoil - rather than internal conflict. And while this story was more intense than any historical romance novel I've read in a long time, since I've mustered up enough courage to finish it, I've read it again, twice. It was that good.

  • Spanglemaker9
    2018-11-15 14:32

    I went through a pretty depressing run of bad books. The last few I read I didn't even finish because they were so unappealing, and I almost never leave a book unfinished. I had passed up this title a few times because the synopsis didn't grab me, but I was desperate and I've loved everything else by Meredith Duran so I gave it a go.I was so thankful to her for restoring my faith in a good, enthralling romance! She's a clean writer, good narrative, no repetitive thoughts or drama that's overwrought or beaten into the ground. The heroine was interesting and nuanced, not just a cookie cutter female lead. It was set in an unusual historical period that you don't often run across in historical romances, which I liked. The push and pull between the hero and heroine was energetic and believable. I loved this. Very enjoyable.

  • Eve
    2018-11-16 12:30

    3,5/5. Enfin, je trouve un Harlequin qui a de l'allure! Pour une fois que les personnages sont divisés par des vrais problèmes et pas seulement une communication ridiculement mauvaise (évidemment, ils auraient quand même pu plus se parler)!!! L'histoire est assez complexe et ça m'a pris un certain temps pour embarquer et démêler tous les personnages et les éléments importants. Quand le flirt commence par contre, j'étais conquise! Cute et steamy. :)

  • Kati
    2018-11-09 17:20

    This is a very well written and complex second chance romance, my second Meredith Duran book, after the Duke of Shadows. In both these books the protagonists technically belong in their world but in reality are outsiders to it. Separations due to overwhelming forces, the pain of misunderstandings, lies and betrayal by loved ones, true enduring love that never dies - there is a strong mix of real history as well as a captivating story.

  • Julia
    2018-11-17 12:38

    More old-school than the usual Duran romance, I enjoyed this new take on the dramatic heart break of star crossed lovers. Adrian is a dreamboat, and I'm so glad the awful circumstances of their young romance is all in the past tense. Their family conflict was wrenching enough in flashback, I don't think I could stand going through it with them for the first time.