I have been in a mood recently and when that happens, I love to comfort myself with either a reread or a light-hearted novella. I chose Unsolicited Duke Pic by Nico Rosso because I had been wanting to read it for a while. I am a huge fan of Eva Leigh’s Union of the Rakes series (starting with My Fake Rake and including Would I Lie to the Duke). Eva Leigh is one of the pen names of this author’s wife, and Unsolicited Duke Pic promised a backstory for one of her characters. I got exactly what I was looking for and then some with this short, fun read.

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The summary, from Amazon:

Falsely slandered by an aristocrat, painter Sofia Brito has no choice but to take the next commission that walks in her door. The last thing she expects is the Duke of Lighthorn requesting a portrait of his very private part. And she definitely doesn’t expect that despite this lewd commission, the complexity of the man on the other side of her canvas makes her want to discover even more than what he’s exposing.

Thomas Halsey, The Duke of Lighthorn has been cornered. Deliberately losing a bet brings him to Sofia’s studio, wrapping her up in the ridiculous game. While his good deed is being punished, he is drawn deeply into the keen gaze of the artist. But does she see him only as an anatomical study? Or is their attraction strong enough to break through the boundaries of society that separate them?

Buy Unsolicited Duke Pic here.

“I need you to paint my penis.” If the premise wasn’t hilarious and eye-catching enough, then the first line was. I was immediately wrapped up in the hysterical concept of this story. Thomas loses a bet and as a result must have this specific portrait commissioned. He chose to hire Sofia because one of the immature men at his club involved in this bet recently blackballed her, and he knows that Sofia likely did not deserve it and needs the work. The bet turns out to have been something Thomas participated in to protect Lady Farris, a character from Eva Leigh’s Union of the Rakes series. You don’t have to read her series to understand this book, but it’s a fun Easter egg for fans.

Despite and maybe somewhat because of the strange circumstances bringing them together, Sofia and Thomas find themselves drawn to one another. Even though this is a novella, a book I was able to read in one two hour sitting, with a completely silly premise, it packs a real emotional punch with these characters. Sofia and Thomas must navigate the classist society they live in and their power dynamics as a couple within it, and they do so with aplomb. They communicate their feelings, thoughts, and desires, and even though there is an obstacle at one point, they are able to discuss why that obstacle exists and whether or not there is anything they can do to overcome it.

I don’t read a lot of erotic romance written by men and often find the steamy scenes anything but when I do, but Unsolicited Duke Pic‘s love scenes were done excellently. I also really loved that while Thomas isn’t a virgin, Sofia is much more experienced. He doesn’t see any shame in this and expresses that he is happy to have this time with her now. She also shows him what she needs without being asked to, and he is more than willing to comply. Overall, the sex scenes were super steamy, empowering, and sex-positive af.

Finally, the cast of characters is very diverse and I would love to read more about them! I especially liked Thomas’s relationship with his brother and his brother’s partner. The same awesome friendships between men, rejecting toxic masculinity and homophobia, can be seen in Eva Leigh’s Union of the Rakes series.

I have so much to say about such a short book, which makes it a clear 5 star read for me! Plus, it’s only 99 cents on Kindle!

ind out more about how I rate books here.

Unsolicited Duke PicUnsolicited Duke Pic by Nico Rosso
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This was exactly the light-hearted novella I needed tonight. I bought this one for 99¢ on Kindle because I love Eva Leigh (a pen name of this author’s wife) and her Union of the Rakes series, and this one promised a backstory for one of the characters. (Though you definitely don’t need to read the series to appreciate this book at all.) Also, the title is hilarious. This went beyond my expectations of something quick and fun for a sexy, compelling read with two characters who communicate their feelings and desires while navigating a classist society and their power dynamics within it. I also loved the diverse cast and wanted to read even more about them!

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Book Club Questions

  1. What are the power dynamics in Thomas and Sofia’s relationship and how do they navigate them?
  2. Do you think the happily ever after for this couple would be easy? What issues might they face?