Barbara’s rating: 4 of 5 stars
Series: Devil’s Duke #4
Publication Date: 5/29/18
Katharine Ashe’s writing is smart, sexy and sophisticated. Her story is unique, thoroughly plotted and she stays on-point throughout. I love that the story takes place over a long period of time – if you count the epilogue it is about forty years. The love that develops is the slow and enduring kind – yes, they were attracted to each other physically, but they actually got to know each other. I also loved that he was an honorable man – he kept telling her ‘no’ and avoiding her because he was so attracted to her and he knew nothing could come of their relationship. The heartbreak is palpable and I was sure that we wouldn’t see an HEA for our couple – I mean goodness – I was practically at the end of the book.
I really liked Ziyaeddin Mirza, AKA Ibrahim Kent, who is a Prince, in exile, of the small country of Tabir. He is a totally honorable man and is supporting himself as a portraitist while he is waiting for England’s government to assist him in taking his country back from the general who murdered Ziyaeddin’s parents and took over. Ziyaeddin is also a gifted portraitist – his eye sees beyond the flesh to the person underneath and that is what is reflected in his portraits.
Elizabeth (Libby) Shaw, AKA Joseph Smart, is a driven lady – she has to become a surgeon at all costs. Her father is a renowned forensic surgeon and they have lived all over England – wherever his rich and powerful patients resided. Libby has an anxiety disorder of some sort (and frankly she gave me one too). My friend described it this way – I hope she doesn’t mind that I’m borrowing her description, but it is just absolutely a perfect description of Libby — imagine Temperance Brennan from Bones and Adrian Monk have a love child – that is Libby.
Ziyaeddin had met Libby a couple of years ago (in the last book). She is astonished when she sees him at an anatomy lecture she is attending. She’s dressed as a male, but she’s still afraid he might recognize her and call her out for dressing that way. However, he says nothing and leaves. He did recognize her – he’d recognize her however she was dressed – he was fascinated by her mouth and could never draw it just right.
Libby’s father is living in London for a year and she will be staying with a friend in Edinburgh. She sees this as the perfect opportunity to pursue her dream of becoming a surgeon. She’ll dress as a man and enroll in the program. She’s already more knowledgeable than most of the professors, but she can’t practice without a certificate. Now – I’m not sure what she thought she was going to do AFTER she got her certificate – was she going to dress as a man forever? Society would never have allowed her to practice as a woman. I’m not saying that is fair – I’m just saying that was the time she lives in. It would have been a huge scandal and she would have been ostracized.
Once her decision was made, she managed to convince all of her friends AND Ziyaeddin to support her. Her friends helped her cover with her family so they didn’t realize what was happening and Ziyaeddin allowed her to live in his home as a male tenant.
Over time, Ziyaeddin shares his secrets with Libby – his true name, family history and how he came to be living in Edinburgh. They draw closer and closer – Libby embraces it, but Ziyaeddin fights it. He doesn’t deny it – he just fights acting on those passions.
The defining moment comes when a nasty rumor is started and Ziyaeddin’s life is at stake. Can Libby set him free? Can she sacrifice everything to save him? Is there another solution?
I thought this story was unique, but I do have to confess that I thought it was pretty wordy. I found myself thinking “get on with it” on a number of occasions and skimming pages at a time. I’m not saying it wasn’t a good story because it was, it could have just been several chapters shorter.
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“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.”