Duke with Benefits by Manda Collins

Duke with Benefits (Studies in Scandal #2)Duke with Benefits by Manda Collins
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

*I am voluntarily reviewing an ARC provided to me by NetGalley and the publisher*

Release Date: 6/27/17

I thought that Ready, Set, Rogue was my new favorite Manda Collins book and it was, until I read Duke with Benefits! Sorry, Ivy and Quill – Dalton and Daphne’s story has taken over as my favorite!

I loved the Duke of Maitland aka Dalton in the first book, he was charming, easy going and obviously head over heels for Daphne. Daphne was a bit off-putting in the first book, not unlikable – she kind of reminded me of Temperance Brennan aka Bones – brilliant, blunt and socially oblivious – not intentionally unkind but still somewhat obnoxious.

The prologue of this book starts shortly before the end of RSR, with Daphne propositioning Dalton and him refusing her. Chapter One starts about 3 months later. Daphne has been searching for the Cameron Cipher, which leads to the stash of gold that the Cameron clan hid after the uprising. The letter that Lady Celeste left for her made it clear that she wanted Daphne to find and solve the cipher. She didn’t tell any of the others about her search and reasons that Ivy didn’t tell her about her quest and she assumes that Sophia and Gemma have their secrets too. So when, Nigel Sommersby, someone from Daphne’s past shows up and mentions the cipher, Daphne must reveal her secret. The others are all willing to help her, but she wants to do it on her own. That is until Sommersby turns up dead and someone takes a shot at Daphne.

Dalton goes into hyper protective mode and is determined to keep Daphne safe. Dalton is the only person that Daphne truly feels comfortable with and even though his rejection still hurts her, she enjoys his company and trusts him. She accepts his offer of protection and begins to open up about her past. The more Dalton hears, the more he wants to keep her safe. So when her father shows up and demands that she leave the estate with him, Dalton claims they are betrothed.

Daphne is stunned by this announcement, but plays along knowing that her father would never turn away a duke! And Dalton convinces her that being betrothed will enable them to spend more time together searching for the cipher without damaging her reputation. What she doesn’t know is that Dalton has every intention of making their pretend engagement real.

While following up on a clue, they are caught in a storm and take shelter at an inn. Once inside they are spotted together by an old acquaintance of Dalton’s who is a notorious gossip. When “Pinky” makes a rude insinuation about Daphne, Dalton claims that they are married. He later tells Daphne that they must marry and she agrees, if he will be her lover. She wants to make sure that her past will not interfere with their future and makes him promise to let her go if she can’t be a true wife to him.

From here the story really takes off, there are more clues, more victims, more betrayal, more steamy love scenes, an abduction, treasure and finally a very sweet HEA.

Daphne really grew as a person in this book and that was due in large part to Dalton. She isn’t perfect and is still a bit socially awkward, but it comes across as more endearing than annoying. The relationship between Daphne and Dalton was perfectly paced and believable, I felt the connection between them and it was much more than lust.

I would highly recommend this book and would strongly suggest reading Ready, Set, Rogue before starting this story. It is not 100% necessary, but it will give you a better understanding of the characters and why they are all at the estate. Not to mention it is a really awesome book!

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Avid reader (and reviewer) of historical romance.

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