The Soldier (Duke's Obsession, #2) - Grace Burrowes This was very similar in plot and structure to The Heir. Lonely earl strikes up friendship with a member of his household staff (housekeeper in The Heir/governess in The Soldier), slowly develops feelings and begins affair. Heroine has big "secret" that prevents her from accepting marriage proposal/love. In The Heir, there was much drinking of lemonade and eating of marizpan. In The Soldier, more drinking of lemonade but they ate pastries instead.

What was decidely differnt about the The Soldier were some very odd friendships the earl had with his brother-in-law and brother. Bordered on homoerotic. The earl rubs lotion all over his brother-in-law in one scene. Even on his chest which I'm sure the brother-in-law could have managed himself. Also odd hugging moments. The brother scenes were equally odd with the brother resting his head on the earl's lap while the earl stroked his hair. After about the third or fourth scene like these, I found myself really laughing out loud. I don't think it was meant to be comic relief.

Oh.. and there was a scene where the earl locks himself in the heroine's bedroom after she's left so that he can masturbate on her bed. I'm not at all opposed to masturbation scenes. More romances should have them because it's a natural part of human sexuality. But it was little squiggy that he chose her bedroom to do it. Seemed like an inappropriate invasion of her privacy.

I would have rated this a solid 3 stars if it weren't for the homoerotic scenes and heroine's "big secret" that kept her from acting on her true feelings for so long.