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About The Book:
After killing his opponent in a duel, Lionel Maitland, Marquess of Axbridge, is known as the Duke of Danger. Tortured by guilt, he shields himself with a devil-may-care attitude. However, when he kills another man in another duel, he’s beyond redemption, even though it wasn’t his fault. He refuses to smear a dead man’s name, especially when he’s left behind a blameless widow who doesn’t deserve an even bigger scandal.
Widowed and destitute, Lady Emmaline Townsend must marry the man of her parents’ choosing or beg unsympathetic relatives for support. The only way out is to ask for help from the one man she’s sworn to hate, the man who owes her anything she asks, the man who killed her husband. They strike a devil’s bargain in which passion simmers just beneath the surface. But her dead husband’s transgressions come back to haunt them and threaten their chance at love.
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Series: The Untouchables #6
Publication Date: 9/26/17
Barbara’s Rating – 4 of 5 stars
Oh, my. I think I am in love – with Lionel Maitland, Marquess of Axbridge (Duke of Danger). Yes, he has fought in three duels ending in two deaths, but the duels were fought for honorable reasons. They were fought to avenge the death of his father, to protect a child and to protect a friend and her child. What else was he to do when the miscreants wouldn’t stop, back down or apologize? He always tried everything he could to avoid the duels, but in the end, they couldn’t be stopped. Lionel is really a very sweet, very loving, very loyal, but extraordinarily honorable man. Another thing I liked about him – he came from a very loving family and had a very strong, loving bond with his father. What is not to love?
Lionel is guilt-ridden over the deaths and they haunt him – especially the last one. He’s filled with self-loathing and feels he doesn’t deserve anything good or loving in his life. He is sure anything bad that happens to him is deserved. He is so guilt-ridden that he banishes himself to Ireland after the duel – to pay penance.
The book opens with the scene of the third duel. The opponents are on the field, the path is laid out by the seconds, the count has begun – and – a shot is fired . . . then another . . . .both are wounded . . . one will die . . . . one will suffer. One leaves behind a destitute widow and the other will do all in his power to help her if she will let him.
Eight months later, Emmaline, Lady Townsend is still angry, very, very angry at Lionel. Everything bad in her life over the last few months is because of him. She has planned her revenge very carefully and is ready to execute her plan. However, fate intervenes in the form of her parents. They have arranged a marriage for her to a lecherous older man that she cannot even imagine spending her life with. What will she do? She hurriedly develops a plan because her father is to sign the betrothal contract the next morning and he just told her today. She will force Lionel to marry her – a marriage totally in name only. She will have total autonomy, he will pay the bills and there will be no intimacy of any kind and no children.
I certainly didn’t warm up to Emmaline as quickly as I did to Lionel. She didn’t seem to have a lot of self-awareness and blamed others for her problems – mostly Lionel. She had been feeling pressured, by her parents, to marry. So, she elopes with the handsome man who pays attention to her at a house party. She doesn’t know him at all – she romanticized him – but she married him. Then she was surprised when he wasn’t the man she thought he would be. Well – duh! Then, when her parents are arranging her second marriage she has a knee-jerk reaction. Granted, she had little to no time to plan a real escape from her situation, but, what was her first reaction? She’d make Lionel marry her – because he owed her everything.
Lionel is standing in the way of a very dangerous man and that man is determined to remove Lionel from his path – by any means necessary. Will Lionel survive?
Emmaline and Lionel certainly don’t have a very auspicious beginning to their marriage but, if they work together, they can make it a success. Lionel wants that from the beginning but Emmaline wants nothing to do with Lionel and it takes her much longer to figure out that Lionel isn’t the man she thought he was either – but in a much better way than with her first husband. As she discovers who he is – and it starts with a tiny black kitten with jade green eyes – she comes to respect, admire and, yes, love him. However, love may not be enough for them. Being near Emmaline is a constant reminder to Lionel that he killed her husband. He can’t forget it and sometimes he can’t be near her because of it.
This is a great read – and I certainly recommend it. However, there were a couple of things that niggled at me as I read.
- The author used the word shagged several times. I know the term came into use in this context in the late 1700’s, but it just sounded too modern to me. The author did nothing wrong there – it was all me. I just didn’t care for it.
- When Lionel was challenged to a duel by Sir Duncan, it was Sir Duncan who chose the weapons, time and place. I believe it was the right of the person challenged to choose the weapon, not the challenger.
- When Emmaline has a need to use Lionel’s dueling pistols, she manages to do it in the dark, in the room with a murderer and very quietly. I don’t believe that dueling pistols would have been stored loaded. That would mean that she had to pack, prime and load the pistol in the dark without making a sound. Just doesn’t sound plausible to me.
None of those things kept me from enjoying the story – they just sort of picked at me.
“I requested and received this e-book at no cost to me and volunteered to read it; my review is my honest opinion and given without any influence by the author or publisher.”
At last, he heard footsteps. The latch clicked, and the door opened. Lady Townsend quickly stepped inside, closing the door firmly behind her.
She took in the small space and positioned herself as far away from him as possible. That still only allowed maybe four feet between them. “This is rather close.”
He straightened to his full height, pushing off the shelves behind his back. “It’s also out of the way.”
She elevated her chin. “I suppose it is.”
“Forgive me, but I’ve been trying to reason why you’d want to marry me, and I’m afraid I’ve come up with absolutely nothing.”
“I admit it’s a severe plan, but I’m at my wit’s end. I’m destined for a marriage I don’t want, and it’s all your fault. You did say you would do anything to help me. Didn’t you mean that?”
“Of course I did. I’m a man of honor, for better or for worse.” Often for worse, it seemed.
She looked away from him, her jaw tightening. When her gaze found his once more, her eyes were fire and ice, a mixture of hot anger and frigid determination. “Your honor has definitely been worse for me. Which is why I am seeking your help—you owe me.”
“Yes, and I’d planned to demand money to settle Geoffrey’s debts. After I gave you the cut direct. Which I didn’t get to do.” She folded her arms across her chest, and he felt her frustration fill the small space. “Things are not going the way I’d planned.”
“I’m sorry things aren’t progressing as you wanted.” His chest squeezed, and he fought to take a breath. “Your life isn’t at all what you’d expected it would be, and that’s entirely my fault,” he said quietly. “I will give you the money you need and anything else you require.”
“Anything. Yes, you said that last summer too.” Her gaze locked onto his. “My parents have decided I should marry someone I don’t want to. They have already set things in motion. I need you to marry me instead.”
“Forgive me, Lady Townsend, but I find it difficult to comprehend there is anyone you’d rather marry less than me.”
She laughed, a dark, hollow sound that made his guts twist. “Yes, I can see why you’d think that, and if we were to have a true marriage, it would likely be accurate. However, to save me from marrying Sir Duncan, we will wed, and it will be a marriage of utter convenience—for me. I shall be independent to do as I please, you will provide me with ample pin money, and there will be absolutely no intimacy.”
“You want me to accept an agreement of marriage in which I have no children, not even an heir?”
Her icy gaze didn’t waver. “Yes.”
Bloodiest of hells. How could he possibly agree to that? He had a responsibility to his title, his family. Yes, there was someone—his second cousin’s son—who could inherit, but that wasn’t the point. His father, if he were still alive, would be devastated to think that Lionel would trade away their legacy in such a fashion.
And yet…he owed her. He’d promised her. And if he was nothing else, he was, above all, a man of honor.
Other books in the series:
Meet the Author:
Darcy Burke is the USA Today Bestselling Author of hot, action-packed historical and sexy, emotional contemporary romance. A native Oregonian, Darcy lives on the edge of wine country with her guitar-strumming husband, their two hilarious kids who seem to have inherited the writing gene, and three Bengal cats. Visit Darcy online at www.darcyburke.com and sign up for her newsletter, follow her on Twitter at twitter.com/darcyburke, or like her Facebook page, www.facebook.com/DarcyBurkeFans.