Duchess If You Dare
From the glittering ballrooms of the ton to the city’s grittiest corners, London has no shortage of wrongs in need of righting–and the Maidens of Mayhem are prepared for the challenge. United by secrecy and sisterhood, these daring women from all walks of life aim to fight injustice wherever it takes them–even into the arms of unexpected love. This feminist take on Regency-era Robin Hoods from USA Today bestselling author Anabelle Bryant is destined to storm readers’ hearts!
Scarlett Wynn’s tragic childhood taught her that life can be cruel to women with little power. So when a local seamstress disappears, Scarlett vows to find out why. Armed with a weapon and her courage, Scarlett scours London for clues–and crosses the unlikely path of Ambrose Cross, the Duke of Aylesford, at an unlikely place: an upscale brothel. The Duke is trying to solve a mystery of his own, and Scarlett is sure they can help each other–if she can resist the attraction that draws them together…
As Duke of Aylesford, Ambrose is duty-bound to protect his family name from scandal no matter the cost. But Scarlett’s fearless spirit forces him to look beyond his world of privilege. Scarlett is as intoxicating as she is dangerous, igniting a fire in him like no other. When the pair learn both mysteries they’re trying to solve are tied to a string of missing women, the tangled scheme they uncover may put their lives, and their growing love, in mortal danger–and lead them to search their hearts like never before…
“A delightful historical romance with a liberal dash of adventure, plenty of sizzling heat, and a heart of pure gold. A superb start to Bryant’s new Maidens of Mayhem series”
–Lenora Bell, USA Today bestselling author
“Duchess if You Dare is a fantastic read that kept me up late and has me anxiously awaiting the next book in the series.”
–USA Today Bestselling Author Renee Ann Miller
UK Amazon Link: https://rb.gy/emdsdw
Barnes & Noble : https://rb.gy/ebpuvi
Scarlett Wynn, the illegitimate daughter of a London light skirt who was murdered by one of her protectors, grew up to be one of the founding members of The Maidens of Mayhem. She prowls London by night saving the innocent. One of those innocents is her seamstress, Linie. Scarlett requires special clothing for prowling the city and Linie will make her whatever she wants. When Linie goes missing, it turns out that she also worked at a brothel under the name of Daisy. During her investigation, Scarlett learns that several girls have gone missing from that same brothel.
Ambrose Cross, the Duke of Aylesford, is very, very correct, uptight, staid, ridged, dignified – you name it. His entire existence is given to the furthering of the family honor – the family name. He would never, ever, do anything that would cause scandal or dishonor to his family or his title. His brother, Martin, on the other hand, is a walking scandal just waiting to undo the family name. When Martin gets embroiled in a to-do at a brothel, the Scarlet Rose, he also gets Ambrose embroiled in it. Martin is sure he heard a woman being abused in the room next to his and he wheedles Ambrose into agreeing to investigate.
Ambrose comes across a woman, hidden in a large black cloak, trying to gain entry into the brothel and assumes she must be a worker. As things progress and they encounter each other again, they realize they are working on the same thing. They agree to share information and work together – but neither seems to do that very well. Their personal attraction also grows, but neither will acknowledge it. As danger dogs both of them, the attraction grows stronger. Can a former street urchin become a duchess?
I think this book suffered from an identity crisis. It couldn’t decide whether it wanted to be a mystery or a romance and so it didn’t do either of them very well. I loved the idea of the book from the book blurb, but, for me, it just didn’t deliver. So many things were never clear – especially about the Maidens of Mayhem. They certainly weren’t a group who worked together to do anything. I couldn’t even determine how or why they came together. How did they come to have the various skills they had – shux – what skills did they have? How were they funded? Then, there was the mystery. It just seemed very, very convoluted with people knowing things they should have known or some fact would just come out of the blue – something there had been no hint of before.
My bottom line is that this was an okay read if you can get past all of the ambiguity. I will probably not read the next book in the series because I didn’t become invested in either the organization or the characters.
I voluntarily read and reviewed an Advanced Reader Copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
Author Bio –
USA Today Bestselling author Anabelle Bryant began reading at age three and never stopped. Her passion for reading soon turned into a passion for writing and an author was born. Happy to grab her suitcase if it ensures a new adventure, Anabelle finds endless inspiration in travel; especially imaginary jaunts into romantic Regency England, a far cry from her home in New Jersey. Instead, her clever characters live out her daydreams because really, who wouldn’t want to dance with a handsome duke or kiss a wicked earl?
Anabelle’s books have been translated into several languages including Japanese and Russian, but writing isn’t all that keeps her busy. Building miniatures, baking and photography are other favorite pastimes. Often found with her nose in a book, Anabelle is just as happy in a room full of people. She enjoys meeting readers, attending conferences and book signings. She has earned her Master’s Degree and is ABD for her Doctorate Degree in education.
A firm believer in romance, Anabelle knows sometimes life doesn’t provide a happily ever after, but her novels always do. Visit her website at AnabelleBryant.com
Social Media Links –
Anabelle Bryant Links
Facebook Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/AnabelleBryantAuthor