Tracy’s rating: 3.5/4 of 5 stars
Series: The Spitfire Society, #2
Release Date: February 25, 2020
Marcus Raleigh, the Marquess of Ripley is no stranger to scandal, an unrepentant rake he doesn’t really care what society thinks of him and his sexual escapades, but when it becomes clear that his cousin is running an investment scam and is cheating people, he will not stand by and let his family name be dragged through the mud. He confronts his cousin in Hyde Park and a physical altercation ensues which leaves him with a cut when his cousin throws a rock at him before running away and if that was not bad enough, the entire scene is witnessed by many members of the ton. Angry that he let his emotions get the better of him, Marcus rides away and finds a secluded place to collect himself and tend his wound. But his solace is interrupted by the arrival of a woman, a woman who tends his wound and flirts, yet will not give him her name. Intrigued by her, he vows to find her, she just laughs and rides away.
Phoebe Lennox is a spinster by choice, she jilted her fiancé at the altar on their wedding day and has reveled in her ruination, thanks to a fortune left to her by her aunt, Phoebe has the means to live as an independent woman. She defies accepted societal protocols and has moved out of her parents home and lives alone. After her experience with her former betrothed, Phoebe has pretty much sworn off men and has no desire to marry. So much to her surprise, her interaction with Marcus in the park sparked something in her – something she thought was long dead – desire. She tells herself that she is better off without a man and especially a man with a reputation like Marcus’ , but even telling herself all this isn’t enough to douse her interest in him, so it is a good thing she didn’t tell him who she is, because nothing good could come from it.
But Marcus is resourceful and finds her by showing his friend Colton a drawing he did of her and learns her name and where she lives. He walks to her neighborhood and by chance spots her entering her house. He surprises her by paying a call and flirting outrageously with her. She is impressed that he found her, but shuts him down when he suggests a kiss. He is not deterred and proposes a wager – that she will ask him for a kiss – if he loses he will donate to her favorite charity. She agrees and is sure she will win. Later Marcus meets with a runner to find his wayward cousin and hopes that he can be found before he scams anyone else. He then turns his attention to planning a masked ball for his friend Graham and his soon-to-be bride, a ball he hopes will give him the opportunity to explore his attraction to Miss Phoebe Lennox.
He and Phoebe embark on a friendship, which transitions to lovers and just when it seems like things might be heading in a more permanent direction and HEA could be in their future, Marcus’ cousin turns up dead and Marcus is the prime suspect. Marcus believes he knows who the killer is and will not fight his arrest to protect them. But Marcus’ misguided attempt to be noble may very well cost him not only his HEA but it could cost his him life!
This was a very well written, fast paced, entertaining story with likeable characters, steamy love scenes and an ending that was more than a little surprising. I loved Marcus, he really is a rake with a heart of gold. I had a harder time warming up to Phoebe’s character, she seemed like a 21st century woman transported back in time to Regency England – I am not picking on Ms. Burke, this kind of characterization is unfortunately is becoming the norm in this genre, sigh. Also I can’t help but wonder – Where’s the Duke?? Overall, I enjoyed the story and I am looking forward to reading Jane’s story!
*I am voluntarily leaving a review for an eARC that was provided to me.*