Originally posted at The Reading Alley and The Romance Reviews.
Lovers of independent heroines and the family feud trope will be delighted and intrigued with Madeline Hunter’s latest novel, The Most Dangerous Duke in London. Featuring a colorful cast, with various motivations, and demonstrating how an inheritance can make a difference in the marriage needs of women of the day, this historical romance set in the 1820s in England is sure to pique your interest. Moreover, for those that enjoy a bit of suspense with their romances, there is a secondary plot that revolves around the mystery surrounding the hero’s father’s suicide and missing jewels that also brings in a potential espionage connection.
Lady Clara Cheswick, the oldest and favorite daughter of an Earl is now set for life due to the generous inheritance that her father left her. Having always enjoyed a special connection to her father, Clara got to do things (such as learn how to shoot) that should in that day only have been reserved for a son. Part of this atypical upbringing was also her father’s understanding that she wished to never marry. Now at 24 years of age (virtually on the shelf for the marriage market of the day) and with an inheritance to boot, she uses her finances to clandestinely publish a journal called Pernassus, which featured political news as well as essays from a feminist perspective and reviews of things more of interest to women, like theater performances and travel destinations. However, its success depends on her anonymity and the anonymity of many of its authors.
Adam Penrose, the Duke of Stratton, is known as a dangerous duke. Having fled England for his mother’s homeland of France shortly after his father’s mysterious death, he has just recently returned. However, his dangerous reputation of having been involved in several duels while in France, precedes him, and the neighboring family (Clara’s family) who had been rumored to have had a feud with his father (and possibly having been involved in his death) is on alert. Rather than risk his wrath, Clara’s grandmother (and her brother the new Earl) arrange a meeting to propose a truce with Adam. As part of the truce, they have offered up the hand of her much younger sister. However, at first sight, Adam decides that Clara would suit him much more. Thus ensues the cat and mouse chase where Adam proposes to Clara but she just rebuffs him instead. However, their chemistry sparks other more physical interests. Could there possibly be a HEA under the circumstances? Moreover, what are Adam’s true motivations (to ruin Clara, her father’s favorite daughter, or truly to find married bliss with her)? And just what transpired all those years ago that led to Adam’s father’s death?
I enjoyed both the romance and the suspense of this book (though I will say that both require your dedicated attention and patience until the very end to finally find their resolution). This was my first experience with Madeline Hunter, but it definitely will not be my last. I look forward to exploring more of her works soon. Moreover, The Most Dangerous Duke in London was a great start to a series about three dukes that are members of the Society of Decadent Dukes (thus the name of the series). I look forward to reading about the other two dukes, Brentworth and Langford, in future books to come in this series.
Source: Review copy provided for review purposes.