Reviewed by May
Once upon a time a young woman named Jane Vernon was engaged to a man named Dominick Manton. They were very much in love and their future promised to be a bright one. That is until Dominick found himself penniless and shunned in society thanks to his older brother the viscount. In order to save Jane a life of poverty and so that she can save face with society he arranges a situation guaranteed to force her into calling off their engagement.
Twelve years later Dom has worked his way up from being a Bow Street runner to owning his own successful business. He also finds himself the viscount now that his brother is dead and without any heirs. When Jane’s cousin goes missing and she turns to Dom for help the pair find themselves together once again – and very much still in love.
This is the fourth book in the Duke’s Men series, but it can easily be read as a stand-alone. Dom’s half brother and sister (his father’s bastards) were previously featured. The author does a good job of recapping enough to refresh the memory of those of us who have read all the books, and to give enough back-story so that a reader could begin here easily.
Dominick Manton is everything I could ask for in a Sabrina Jeffries leading man. He’s built himself up in the face of great adversity, he is kind and loving and generous with his family, and he’s oh so smexy too. He is really great at his job, and he is taking his future as a viscount seriously which I appreciated as well.
That time of his life was gone forever, as well it should be. He was quite a bit older and wiser, not to mention rougher, and she was still an heiress. They had nothing in common. They were different people.
And perhaps if he said it enough, he would finally believe it. He had to believe it. He had to excise her from his mind somehow.
Jane on the other hand, has done nothing in the last twelve years except age. She’s worried about her missing cousin (aka Dom’s sister in law), she wants help but at the same time with no experience wants to be running the investigation. She’s also engaged to another man – not that it stops her from getting dirty with the delicious Dom.
As the story progresses I found more and more to love about Dom, and less to like about Jane. I believe the problem was we are shown an incredibly well developed hero with Dom. How he’s worked and sacrificed and truly earned every single thing he has. Then we have Jane who showed me no reason to like her or find her worthy of a second chance at love.
Oh, I understand she’s mad because Dom tricked her into calling off the wedding. But a big part of that was simply that she was too stubborn back then to see that it couldn’t happen and that they would have been absolutely miserable if they had tried to make a go of it back then. It also bothered me that she is engaged but going around kissing Dom and falling back in love with him before calling off her existing arrangement. While I understand it was a different time, it didn’t add anything likable to her as a character and since that was already an issue for me it just made things worse.
The other problem I had with this story is that the entire plot line that Dom’s dead brother’s widow (who is Jane’s cousin) may or not be pregnant and may or may not be kidnapped or conspiring with a shady fellow to take the title back from him took too much of the focus away from what might have been a sweet romance. While the outcome would have changed the course of Dom’s life, it wouldn’t have been catastrophic either way.
My annoyance with Jane and the plot with her cousin aside – I still enjoyed reading this book.
He smoothed his hands up her stockings and past her garters until he came to her drawers. “Before you go running off to seal your ‘arrangement’ with Blakeborough, you should at least have a taste of passion. Just so you’ll know how important it really is.” Pressing his mouth to her ear, he added, “Men aren’t the only ones who like to be touched there, sweeting.”
Sabrina Jeffries always does a beautiful job of having a rich cast of characters and really having a vivid setting. Not to mention plenty of heat! The writing style keeps things moving briskly and there were many lovely moments as well. I enjoyed seeing Dom’s siblings and spouses once again, and revisiting this world as well.
If you’ve never read this author this would not be the book I would recommend you begin with. She has other past titles that are among my all time favorite historical romances. However if you don’t think this heroine would annoy you, and a thin plot wouldn’t bother you, then you may like this one quite a bit more than I did.