Release Date: February 27, 2018
There was a lot to like about this book and I really enjoyed the author’s writing style, she was able to change the tone of the book going from fun and flirty to down right terrifying and back to fun without disrupting the flow of the story, which in my experience is quite impressive, especially from a debut author!!
Lady Sophie Wolcott and Devlin Markham, the Duke of Huntington meet when Sophie falls out of tree after spying on the man of her dreams and seeing him propose to another woman. Devlin aka the Devil Duke is in the midst of a heated tryst when Sophie lands in the bushes. He helps her up and sends his trysting partner on her way. He and Sophie talk for a bit and she is surprised that she is not nearly as heartbroken as she thought and that she is attracted to Devlin – but that will never do because he is a rake and she will never, ever let herself fall for a rake.
A year later, Devlin is meeting with the Queen, he needs her approval for the construction of the Trans-Atlantic Cable, a project he is heavily invested in. The Queen refused to sign unless Devlin gives up his rakish ways and settles down with a respectable woman. Devlin is not happy about being blackmailed by the Queen, but agrees. He knows exactly who he is going to marry – Lady Sophie, the woman who didn’t fall for his charms and the woman he hasn’t been able to forget.
Sophie has decided that she is not going to marry, she will devote herself to the orphanage that her mother supported and be content with that. So when she hears that both her former crush Richard, Lord Abeland and the rake she can’t forget Huntington are both looking for wives, she feigns disinterest. Later that evening she sees Richard and knows that what she felt was just a youthful infatuation and she is over him, but Huntington is a different story, when he approaches her and flirts and says they should marry, she is tempted, but after seeing what her mother endured at the hands of a rake, she just laughs it off. He promises her a huge donation for her orphanage and tells her he will call on her the next day.
The next day Sophie has two visitors, first Richard shows up, he wants to know if Sophie has heard from a former resident of her orphanage, Jane. Jane worked as a housemaid at his home until his wife died, and now he is looking for a missing journal, he is not accusing Jane, but needs to talk to her. Sophie admits that she hasn’t heard from Jane, but will write to her. Unbeknownst to Sophie, Jane has been murdered and now the murderer thinks Sophie knows who he is and has her in his sights. When Devlin arrives, he and Richard begin to argue and things escalate quickly. Mabel, Sophie’s aunt walks in and sends both men on their way. But she is giddy thinking both men are courting Sophie.
Later that evening Sophie’s man of affairs comes to see her with terrible news – the property that the orphanage leases has been lost by the owner in a card game and the new owner is going to tear the place down and build row houses. Sophie learns that the new owner is none other than Devlin and tells her man that she will handle it. She goes to see him and they strike a bargain – she will marry him and he will deed her the property and give a monthly donation, they seal the deal with a kiss. They break apart when someone screams and a small boy runs in the room. Nicholas is Devlin’s ward, but he looks like he could be his son, and when Sophie asks, Devlin is completely honest with her. Sophie tells Nicholas that she and Devlin will marry and promises to take him to visit the orphanage. Devlin then informs Sophie that they will marry within the month.
Sophie returns home to find Tina, another maid in the Crowley residence waiting to see her – Tina tells her that Jane has disappeared and she is worried – what Sophie doesn’t know is that Tina talked to Jane before she left and knows who the killer is and has tried to blackmail him – Tina asks if Sophie has heard from her and Sophie then asks her butler if she has gotten any mail – it seems like her mail for the last couple of weeks has disappeared. She promises Tina she will look into Jane’s disappearance. When she goes to pick up Nicholas, she asks Devlin if he can get her an invite to the Crowley’s house party – at first he refuses, the parties are not suitable for innocents – but when she tells him why, he agrees, but insists on going with her.
Tina and her fiancée Robbie meet with the killer and get what he promised them…
That night at the opera Sophie learns that Devlin has sent their engagement announcement to the paper – before she has told her family. They encounter his Aunt, the dowager Marchioness of Brampton, who clearly hates Devlin. And then her brother shows up unexpectantly and overhears, he punches Devlin and refuses to let Sophie marry him. Sophie has had enough for one night and tells Devlin to call on her tomorrow. Mabel fills Sophie in on Devlin’s family and her heart softens towards him. When the butler brings Sophie her mail, she learns that their footman was murdered the night before and when she learns that he too worked for the Crowley’s she is sure there is something nefarious going on. She decides to call on the Crowley’s and runs into Devlin as she is leaving. She tries to get him to leave, but when he hears where she is going, he insists on going with her. They leave the Crowley’s with more questions than answers. They chat on the ride back and Devlin kisses her – when they return to her home, her brother opens the carriage door and grabs her – this time Devlin punches him – they move into the house and the two men have at it – Sophie calls for her doctor friend and Devlin is upset to realize that Alec McGuiness is in love with Sophie – Daniel (her brother) thinks that it is hilarious that the rake is falling for his sister and that he thinks that he can actually control her – the two men form a truce.
When Sophie arrives at the Crowley’s, she learns that Jane and Tina are dead. Even more disturbing, it seems like someone is trying to frame Devlin for the murders. She begs him to speak to his aunt, believing that she can clear things up, but Devlin refuses. They make love and Sophie knows she is lost, but Devlin makes it clear that he can never love her. She is hurt, but accepts that he never made any promises to her and tries to shut off her feelings. Devlin is sorry that he hurt her and doesn’t like this new cold Sophie, but before they can work things out Devlin is called away with an emergency.
Sophie decides to take matters into her own hands and ends up in the hands of the villains instead. Can Devlin find her before it’s too late? Will he be able to tell her that he was wrong to push her away and that he loves her?
This was a very good book with a very good mystery and several twists and turns that kept me guessing until the end. And there was a huge OMG moment when the real villain was revealed. The book is well written, flows great, had somewhat steamy love scenes, wonderful secondary characters, a truly awesome declaration scene and a very hard won HEA.
I would be happy to recommend this book and will definitely be looking out for future books by this author – I didn’t give the book 5 stars because there were some minor inconsistencies in the story, some modern verbiage and a major title flub at the end of the book – but nothing that ruins the flow or the story.
*I am voluntarily leaving a review for an eARC that was provided to me by NetGalley and the publisher*