Tracy’s rating: 4 of 5 stars
Series: The Games of Gentlemen, #1
Release Date: April 2, 2020
Evelyn “Evie” Pearce is in trouble. When her father, Sir Henry Pearce, a painter of some renown died and left her and her sister Artemisia penniless, she did all she could to keep them off the streets. But when Artemisia became ill, Evie borrowed money from a moneylender and the debt has skyrocketed to a sum that she can’t possibly repay. When she meets with Filgrave to ask for more time, she is given her choices, repay the debt or Filgrave will force both Evie and her sister to work in his brothel until the money is repaid. This is unacceptable to Evie and she hatches a plan to defraud a duke and get enough money to pay her debt and leave London.
Known as the Duke of Diamonds, because he is cold, hard and rich, Casper Brook, the Duke of Rothwell, owns a painting by Sir Henry titled The Veiled Fall of Innocence – he is obsessed with the model in the painting and would love to see her face – so when a “Mrs. Swift” comes calling and claims to have the painting’s twin – The Fall of Innocence Unveiled – the one that is rumored to show the model’s face – Casper is interested, but he knows Mrs. Swift is lying to him. He should be disgusted by her, but he can’t seem to forget her. When they meet again at a ball (Thanks to Evie’s friend Matilda) Casper decides to play along – he agrees to meet her to view the painting, where he plans to reveal her lies and get back to his life.
But things do not go as planned and when he views the painting he is confused – it looks like Sir Henry’s work, but the face is wrong – Casper doesn’t immediately buy the painting, but tells her he will let her know his decision. When Evie doesn’t hear from the Duke, she is beyond desperate, she plans to bolt with her sister but is caught by Filgrave – things look dire, but they are saved by Casper. Casper takes them back to his house and from there, things get very interesting…
This was a well written, fast paced, very entertaining story with delightful characters, witty banter, secrets, lies, fabulous secondary characters, warm love scenes and very sweet HEA. I did feel like the final confrontation with the villain was a bit rushed and somewhat anticlimactic – but overall, I really enjoyed the story and I would be happy to recommend the book. This is the first book in the series, so this is the perfect place to start if this author is new to you and I’m sure you will be hooked and like me, eagerly awaiting the next installment!