At the Pleasure of the Marquess by Sofie Darling
Tracy’s rating: 3/3.5 of 5 stars
Series: Shadows and Silk, #5
Release Date: April 28, 2021
Maybe 3.5 stars
Worried about his brother, former spymaster, Lord Nicolas Asquith asks one of his former agents, Hortense Marchland to check on him. Nick tells Hortense that his brother, James “Jamie” Asquith, the Marquess of Clare has not been seen for months – not since the sudden death of their parents five months ago. Before their death, Jamie was slowly drinking himself into an early grave and Nick is worried that he has succeeded.
After the war ended and the need for agents with it, Hortense began an inquiry business. Years ago, Nick saved Hortense from a life on the streets and has come to be family to her – so when he asked her for help, there is no way she could deny him. But she didn’t expect his brother to be so observant or so sober. When Jamie catches her snooping around his study – he orders her to leave, but he is intrigued by her and follows her. He joins her on another job and then offers her an outrageous amount of money to help him learn what really happened to a lover he lost touch with years ago. Hortense takes the job, not realizing that in doing so, she will be dragged back into her days working for the crime lord Flick Doyle. But true to her word, Hortense learns what happened to Jamie’s lost lover and uncovers another lie his parents kept from him; he has a son. A son that has been lost to the streets and none other than Flick Doyle and his “Lucky Eels”.
Hortense agrees to do a job for Doyle to ensure his son’s release – but it will require connections to the ton that she doesn’t have – connections that Jamie offers to give her through marriage – Jamie is desperate to get his son away from Doyle and will do whatever is necessary – even marrying Hortense. They marry and work together to complete the job and get his son. But neither is prepared for the intense passion that blooms between them or the secret that Hortense is keeping that will definitely destroy any chance of a HEA.
This is a well-written, fast-paced story that is not your usual marriage of convenience story. Jamie and Hortense are both very likable and relatable characters who are both struggling with their pasts and the effect it has on their future. I liked the story, but I wasn’t sold on the need for them to marry, especially after Jamie so efficiently solved Hortense’s problem at that end and made this reader wonder why that solution hadn’t been employed at the first meeting. Aside from that and a few title errors – I did enjoy this story, it is filled with intrigue, steamy love scenes, surprises, twists and turns, and finally a HEA complete with a very heartwarming epilogue. This is the fifth book in the series, but it could easily be read as a standalone title with no problems.
*I am voluntarily leaving a review for an eARC that I requested and was provided to me by the publisher. All opinions in this review are my own. *