This is the second book in the "Royal Entourage" series, a series I fondly call the "Drunk Dukes" series because it all starts with a bunch of Dukes getting amnesia drunk on Absinthe. In this book we find Roman Montagu, seventeenth Duke of Norwich, tied to a ship in a storm while the recently widowed Esme March, Countess of Derby, is trying to save him from his own stupidity.
You see, the Dukes of Norwich have been cursed and all end up dead due to ducks (you read that right - ducks. Hey not all curses can be cool!) at an early age. So being on a storming ocean, very much like the one Roman watched his brother, the sixteenth Duke of Norwich die on, is quite disturbing. Luckily for all, everyone makes it off the ship safely, but Roman and Esme have been slightly compromised and now Prinny wants them to marry!
Esme is a talented artist who has dreams of traveling the world and painting. She is sad that she is very plain and very tall, but she loved her first husband and knew he loved her - even if he did love alcohol more. She is kind, generous, and strong. She knows what she wants, but doesn't like rocking the boat. So when she's forced to marry Montagu, a man she has secretly been attracted to, she marries him without much fuss. But when he tells her that he doesn't want to have children, or live in each others pockets she's hurt that he wouldn't want to even try to make their marriage work.
Roman never wanted to marry, and is determined that the Norwich line and curse ends with him. He has feared living life since he's sure he will meet with a fast and quackish ending at any moment. After spending one night in Esme's bed, he's a little obsessed with her long legs and sweet sensuality, but he can't let his heart get involved because in the end he's going to die - and soon.
Nash can always tell a great story with humor and emotion. I enjoyed the first book in this series, but I liked this book even more. Watching Esme and Roman try and make a marriage of convenience become something more is a real treat. There's some other stuff about the curse, Esme's art, and we of course meet some more of the Royal Entourage, but the real story is how Roman and Esme come to fall in love - and isn't that what the best romances are really about?
Bottom Line: Light, funny, but with characters who have real depth. A great read for anyone who is new to the series, or enjoyed the first book.