Reviewed by May
From the author’s website:
Maximilian Cale, the Duke of Lyons, accepted long ago that his kidnapped brother was dead. When a cryptic note from investigator Tristan Bonnaud claims otherwise, Max seeks out Tristan’s sister, Lisette—and is infuriated to learn that Tristan has also mysteriously vanished. Have the siblings perpetrated an elaborate hoax? Or is the fiercely protective beauty as innocent as she claims them to be?
Fearful that the powerful duke will destroy Tristan’s career in his zeal for the truth, the clever Lisette convinces Max to accompany her to Paris in a joint search for their loved ones. But their journey takes a seductive twist when they pose as an ordinary husband and wife—not an English duke with a tarnished family name and the illegitimate daughter of a viscount—and discover an exhilarating passion free from the damning secrets of the past. With the line between danger and desire enticingly blurred, they discover that some mysteries, like those of the heart, are answered tenfold in the bliss of a true and trusting love.
I was really excited about this book, and anxious to see how clever our heroine would be, how she’d get the frosty Duke of Lyons to warm up, and also to see how they would figure out what was going on with her brother. The problem is, the set-up is the best part of this book.
That isn’t actually fair, I suppose the plot line with her brother and the potential for finding Max’s brother and all that was actually quite interesting and took some unexpected twists that had me enjoying this book more overall. The real problem was that there was no romance story here.
Oh, they lust for each other and desire each other and all that. But why? Why, is this man in particular and this woman specifically made for each other? After reading the book I still am not really sure, and neither character managed to make a favorable impression on me. Jeffries generally has a lot of courtship, wooing, and overall really shows couples falling in love and so I had very high expectations here that were not even close to met.
“I have no intention of ending up a duke’s mistress. Bad enough that I watched Maman throw her life away on a man who could not love her. I will not follow in her footsteps.”
Lisette really was traumatized by her childhood that left her mother, brother, and herself homeless and penniless when her father died unexpectedly and at a rather early age. I didn’t think that it was unreasonable that she would not want to find herself stuck in the same kind of position, trapped in the same kind of half-life that her mother had. But then, she also says this:
“I would hate being married to any man who would own me. Who would want to tell me what to do, when to do it, how to do it, and with whom. No thank you.”
He slicked back his wet hair. “Is that really how you see marriage?”
“As a prison for women? Yes.”
“And you see no advantage in it,” he said as he came right up to her.
Lisette began clever, but as the pages go on she became the worst kind of silly female who is all contradictions and nonsense. From simple things like thinking about how passports or bribes might be needed to considering how much money a voyage to France might cost to considering if she’d actually like to work with her brothers in the capacity she craves, or if she just likes the idea of it she drove me nuts.
Not that the Duke of Lyons is much better, he was the typical overly dramatic yet stoic English gentleman who is inappropriately in lust with the illegitimate daughter of a viscount. So perhaps in that sense, they made the perfect pair for each other.
Unless you are a devoted Jeffries fan, I cannot recommend this book. The overall plot and the details with the brothers and intrigue side of things was interesting enough to carry the book, but it did not hold up as a romance. I will eagerly await her next book however, as Jeffries does have a way with mixing emotional tenderness with humor and drama in a way that is delightful in general. It is my hope that in this book we were being given back-story and setup for some future Jeffries heroes – I look forward to their books and hope they are given more of a romance story.