Tracy’s rating: 3.5/4 of 5 stars
Series: Clandestine Affiars, #3
Release Date: March 29, 2022
Alexander Worthington, the Marquess of Brandon is furious, part of his country estate, Highfield has been stolen from him by way of a fraudulent map. He needs proof that his neighbor, Charles Canning conspired with Roger Fleming, the mapmaker, and decides to take a position as a footman in Fleming’s home to find evidence. But what he found was Fleming’s wife Rose, who captivated him from the start which makes his plans for revenge on Fleming much harder, since he doesn’t want Rose to suffer. And as much as he desires Rose, nothing can come of it and he has a title to consider. A title that the ton believes was tarnished by his Arab mother, so Alex is also seeking revenge from the ton by courting the diamond of the season. If all goes as planned, Alex will recover his stolen land and marry the Duke of Kingsley’s daughter. But there are things Alex doesn’t know and secrets that will change everything…
Rose Fleming is London’s premier mapmaker, but no one knows it, everyone believes that her husband Roger is the creator of the wonderfully detailed maps, something that grates at her. Rose learned the art from her uncle and inherited the business from him when he passed. Roger was an engraver and surveyor working for them and someone her uncle wanted her to marry. So within weeks of his demise, Roger convinced Rose that no one would buy maps from a woman and formed a plan, they would marry and he would assume the title of the mapmaker. Knowing he was right about society’s views of women, she agreed and at first, all was well, but soon Roger stopped coming to her bed and made it clear that he didn’t want children, leaving Rose alone and hurt. But things began to look up when Alex joined their household, clearly he is not an experienced footman, but she likes him and they soon form a friendship, and though she feels something for him she has never felt before, she is a married woman and nothing can come of it. But when the first of many secrets are revealed, hope springs to life in her heart before the reality of the revelation sets in and more secrets come to light, making HEA seem like an unobtainable dream.
This book was much more than I was expecting, it is just as well-written and well-researched as the previous books, but there is a lot more going on and a lot more angst than the other books. The chemistry between Rose and Alex is undeniable and fairly sizzles on the page, the secrets are shocking and some a bit unsettling. I liked the idea of the story, but I was a bit disappointed when Rose had a complete personality change when she learned of Alex’s deception, it seemed hypocritical considering she had been keeping secrets too. But in the end, I liked how everything works out and that readers are treated to an epilogue that shows not only their HEA but those of the previous characters. This is the third book in the series, but it can 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.*