Sensible and lonely, Olivia Mather survives by her wits—and her strict policy of avoiding trouble. But when she realizes that the Duke of Marwick might hold the secrets of her family’s past, she does the unthinkable, infiltrating his household as a maid. She’ll clean his study and rifle through his papers looking for information.
Alastair de Grey has a single reason to live: vengeance. More beautiful than Lucifer, twice as feared, and thrice as cunning, he’ll use any weapon to punish those who fooled and betrayed him—even an impertinent maid who doesn’t know her place. But the more fascinated he becomes with the uppity redhead, the more dangerous his carefully designed plot becomes. For the one contingency he forgot to plan for was falling in love…and he cannot survive being fooled again.
Publisher and Release Date: Pocket Books, March 2014.
Time and Setting: Victorian Era, London, 1885
Genre: Historical Romance
Heat Level: 2
Reviewer Rating: 5
Review by Sebina
Sometimes you read a book that just reestablishes to you why you love reading Historical Romances. That was very much the case here. Meredith Duran is a beloved author in the genre, and she continues to impress with her characterizations, story-lines and the road to happy-ever-afters. She writes redemption stories better than most in the genre, and she understands creating that sense of realistic growth and motivations in her characters that make them come across as believable and magnetically interesting.
Olivia Mather, our heroine, is one of the most compelling female characters I’ve read in a long while. She’s such an intelligent, capable and self-effacing character and oozed an empathy towards others; her utter determination and inventiveness in regards to our hero – Alastair de Grey – in the face of his depression was intensely captivating. This is a man who is down in the gutter in his life, having been betrayed by his late, ex-wife who doesn’t trust anyone. Essentially, he’s a man seeking redemption but is also looking for vengeance.
When we first meet Olivia we discover that she is going to go undercover at Alastair’s estate, because they share a common enemy and because his deceased wife’s letters hold the proof Olivia is so desperately seeking. Her inner turmoil in deceiving Alastair as she is helping him out of his despair and falling in love with him all the while is one of the most beautiful and touching journeys I’ve read in a romance in a long time. They’re both such intensely lonely characters that the magnetic pull between them was a real page-turner to read. Alastair is also such a dark character (in the sexiest way possible) that even when he’s doing things you wish he wouldn’t, you still love him as a hero. There’s a touching moment in the story where Alastair and Olivia talks about books. It was an important scene because you learn about who they are as people through the books they love, but you also discover why they belong together.
If you like angsty romances then this is the perfect book for you; the story balances light and dark in a way that works so well that I was dumbfounded after I finished it.
The supportive cast was well-written too, but this book for me was all about Alastair and Olivia. The story had elements of mystery and adventure which were also beautifully written. However, you’re in it for these two lost souls who desperately need each other.
A lot of praise should also be given to the setting. Duran captures the spirit of the Victorian Era, both in its class-structures in society, as well as in its hidden darkness; the fact that Alastair is a former political figure adds a lot of spice to an already captivating and well-paced plot.
I could gush about this book for hours. It’s a keeper!