Tracy’s rating: 4 of 5 stars
Series: Hazards of Dukes, #1
Release Date: January 28, 2020
In the blink of an eye Sebastian’s life changed, one minute he was Sebastian Dutton, the Duke of Hasford and the next, thanks to his mother, he was Sebastian de Silva, illegitimate son of the former Duke and his cousin, Thaddeus is now the duke. After making Thad promise to take care of his older half-sister Ana Maria, a stunned and more than a little upset Sebastian goes to see his friend Nash, the Duke of Malvern. Nash decides that Sebastian needs a night out and they visit a new gaming club – Miss Ivy’s.
Ivy Holton’s life was also thrown into disarray by a parent, she was born the daughter of a baron, but the flip of a card ruined her – her father wagered her hand in marriage and lost, unwilling to accept that, Ivy took matters in her own hands and challenged her would be groom to game and won her freedom – but the cost was her reputation and standing in society. Upon the death of her father, Ivy took her meager inheritance and her younger sister Octavia and moved to London. She opened Miss Ivy’s with the idea that she could make enough money to buy a cottage somewhere and give Octavia choices that were stolen from Ivy. When Nash and Sebastian first arrive, Ivy is intrigued by Sebastian, but as the night wears on Sebastian begins to cause trouble with the other patrons, but before she has to ask him to leave, Nash steps in and takes him home. Ivy is upset and hopes she never has to see him again.
The next day, Sebastian learns of his actions at Miss Ivy’s and feels the need to talk to her, he tracks her down and apologizes, Ivy is gracious and forgives him, they talk and he has some good ideas that she would like to implement with his permission, he agrees and takes his leave. But later that night, he returns and saves Ivy from being robbed, he is injured in the fight and Ivy takes care of him. When he wakes, she asks if he would like to work for her – she offers him a salary and room/board. Sebastian accepts and then goes to tell his family of his plans.
Nash really has no concerns about his new job, but Thad and Ana Maria are very upset and don’t understand why he refuses to stay with them and basically still run the dukedom. Sebastian tries to explain that he needs to prove something to himself, prove that he is not worthless without the title, but they still don’t understand. Ana Maria is especially upset, Sebastian’s mother was her step-mother and treat Ana Maria horribly, Sebastian was her protector, even though he is younger than she is, she doesn’t want him to leave, but agrees to give him time as long as he promises to visit her.
Sebastian and Ivy settle into a routine and all is going well, until a kiss changes everything. Sebastian knows that he wants Ivy in his life, but when he is offered the chance to return to society and redeem his reputation, will he take it or will he find way to return on his own terms and more importantly, does Ivy want to return?
I really enjoyed this book, it was a fun read and Sebastian and Ivy are very likable, the plot stayed on point, the banter was witty, the love scenes steamy and the ending satisfying. I did find Ana Maria a bit odd – she is older than Sebastian, but since the author never gave the reader any definitive ages, I have no idea how old she is, but she seemed much younger than Sebastian, almost child-like and somewhat needy. I didn’t dislike her, but I didn’t understand why Sebastian felt the need to treat her so gently and wondered if she was mentally challenged, but later I realized that Sebastian felt guilty that she was abused by his mother and became overly protective of her as a result. Anyway, I liked this book and would be happy to recommend this book and I am looking forward to the next book in the series (I think Ana Maria is the heroine in the next book, so I am very interested to see if the author can change my perception of her).
*I am voluntarily leaving a review for an uncorrected eARC that was provided to me by Edelweiss and the publisher.*