Series: School for Dukes #3
Publication Date: 7/23/19
Number of Pages: 384
** 4.5 Stars **
I read this fast-paced, fun, steamy book in one sitting – and the pages just flew by. I loved the humor and found myself chuckling on numerous occasions during my reading. It is well-written, well-plotted with interesting characters and scenarios.
Miss Wilhelmina (Mina) Penny has been chafing from the overprotective, restrictive, lonely existence she has lived since being orphaned. Her guardian (and uncle) is Sir Malcolm Penny, England’s spymaster. Mina’s parents were spies, as a matter of fact, she comes from a long line of spies and she desperately wants to follow in their footsteps. Her uncle has kept her under heavy guard on his estate, Sutton Hall, but she’s made good use of her time there – to spy on the spymaster. She’s learned all about his operation as well as how to pick locks, decode messages and has developed a real affinity for mechanical devices.
Finally, Mina has persuaded her uncle to provide her a season in London and she plans to take full advantage of it. She wants excitement and independence – freedom. Her plan is simple. She’ll find Lord Rafe Bentley and make him a proposal (literally) that he can’t refuse. Rafe is the biggest, most debauched rake in the ton as well as one of her uncle’s spies who is currently in disgrace. If he marries her and they become partners, she’ll share all of her knowledge of her uncle’s operations with him and get him back in her uncle’s good graces. Well – that was the plan – then – there was a kiss from someone else and well …
Andrew (Drew) Bentley, Duke of Thorndon and Rafe’s reclusive brother is NOT in London by choice. He received a blackmail letter at his estate in Cornwall and it said that if he didn’t pay, his sister, Beatrice, would be kidnapped. It also stated that they knew what Rafe had done. Talk about anger and frustration! While he’s in London to deal with Rafe and the blackmailer, he might as well find himself a bride. He shouldn’t have a problem finding some amenable debutante who could stand the wilds of Cornwall since he has absolutely no intention of ever living in London.
Drew suffered an extremely traumatic event when he was fifteen and he has had to deal with the ramifications of that ever since. He panics at certain scents, enclosed spaces and crowds – so he lives exclusively on his country estate in Cornwall where his days are orderly and repetitive. No surprises.
When Drew dances with Mina at her first ball, the sparks fly – but not in the way you think. She does all in her power to send him fleeing — too bad that her actions have the opposite effect. She isn’t looking to be a duchess, she’s looking to be a spy and Drew won’t get her there. Yet, in a gardening shed later that evening, he kisses her and sparks really do fly. That can’t change her mind though.
I loved both Drew and Mina and could see where and why each of them felt as they did. I could also see that they were a perfect match for each other. Each’s strengths bolstered the other’s weaknesses. Drew didn’t at all match what Mina thought he’d be – he was actually supportive and caring.
So, why didn’t I give it 5-stars? Well – I just thought the villain was overcome entirely too easily. I also thought Mina held on to the ‘I won’t marry Drew’ thing way too long. I also felt a little like I was left hanging with the information on Drew’s traumatic event. I would have liked to see the reason his father refused to pay – was it because he was a cold-hearted jerk or was there some mix-up, didn’t he love Drew. There was a vague reason given, but – I couldn’t understand why that would be the reason. Another thing is that I thought Mina was much too promiscuous for a young woman who had led such a sheltered life – even if she did overhear many crass things from her uncle’s visitors.
I thoroughly enjoyed this read and hope you will as well.
I voluntarily read and reviewed an Advanced Reader Copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.