Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Review: The Most Dangerous Duke in London by Madeline Hunter

Sometimes when I am rearranging my bookshelves (not done as often as tidiness would dictate), a book falls off the shelve in such a way that I assume the universe thinks I need to read it right then. That was the case with this historical romance. After literally months of stop and start kitchen renovations, I was fiddling with the books from the bookshelves tucked under the counter when this one fell into my lap. And heaven knows I needed a happily ever after kind of read what with the frustrations of the construction (which, incidentally, is still ongoing) so this was exact kind of book I needed to read. Madeline Hunter knows how to draw entertaining characters, add in sly humor, and wrap up with an ending that suits the story and she does just that in The Most Dangerous Duke in London.

Adam Penrose is the Duke of Stratton and he's the titular most dangerous duke in London by virtue of his reputation for duels and a quick temper. He's recently returned from France and wants to clear his late father's name of the vile whispers of treason that have swirled around since shortly before his father took his own life some years ago. Adam has an inkling who might be behind the rumors and he is determined to have his revenge. And he thinks that punishing the late Marwood's family might just be very appealing once he catches a glimpse of Marwood's daughter, not the young and perfect Emilia though, the on who is presented to him as a peace offering between the families, but instead the older daughter, the headstrong Lady Clara Cheswick, who has no intention of ever marrying, and certainly not a man who thinks ill of her beloved late father. Adam pursues Clara even as he continues to try and uncover the truth about his father. Clara, for her part, while attracted to Adam, is determined to maintain her independence (she inherited an unentailed piece of land) and to continue to hide the fact that she secretly funds the publishing of a progressive journal written by women.

The chemistry between Adam and Clara is intense and juicy. The scenes where Adam courts Clara while she resists are entertaining indeed. In fact, their relationship is quite the game of chase. But while it might sound as if Clara's wishes are not taken into consideration, Adam does give her the time and leeway to choose for herself (although he never doubts that she will marry him eventually). For much of the novel, the search for the source of the whispers about Adam's father's possible treason, rumors easy to believe in part because of Adam's French mother, takes a large backseat to the ongoing frisson between Adam and Clara. And once Adam gets closer to the truth, it jeopardizes their burgeoning relationship. The uncovering of the truth is well done and genuinely surprising even if smaller aspects of the truth were pretty evident long before the final reveal. Set just after the Regency period in England yet still in the shadow of Napoleon, this is a book with two equals as main characters, great chemistry and steamy bits, and a plot I haven't seen too much of before. Historical romance fans will find a lot to enjoy here in this start to Hunter's Decadent Dukes series.

Thanks to the publisher for sending me a copy of this book for review.

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