Dominic Hale, the Duke of Damon, a.k.a. the Demon Duke, is numb. He has spent most of his adult life searching out ways to make himself feel. Women, gambling, revelry of all sorts – he’s tried everything with little success. He still feels empty. Why, then, can’t he forget the flame-haired vixen who turned him down flat?
Fallon O’Rourke is tired. She is fed up with fending off advances from the so-called gentlemen of the houses she has worked in. Since she was a child she has been treated differently because of her quick temper and fiery tresses and she has had enough. Even a would-be rescuer managed to proposition her as he transported her from the scene of her most recent encounter with her employer’s son to a friend’s lodgings – and he was traveling with two women of questionable morals! Fallon decides that the only way to earn a living and remain unmolested is to disguise herself as a young man.
Ah, faithful reader, I’ll admit I so enjoy a story with the heroine in drag. Don’t judge me.
After cutting her distinctive hair and finding the clothes necessary for her disguise, Fallon (her name gave me Dynasty flashbacks every time I read it… I think I’m showing my age here) goes to the employment agency for a referral. Guess where she is sent? To the home of the Demon Duke, of course. She becomes the newest footman, Francis. The duke is intrigued by his disapproving new footman – not in a reluctant OMG-why-am-I-staring-at-a-boy’s-mouth way – he is just aware of the young servant.
When Dominic’s valet leaves in a fit of pique, Francis (very reluctantly) agrees to replace him. Fallon is saving all her pennies to escape the city and live independently so a raise in salary is a good thing…mostly. More time spent with the duke means she begins to see behind the public persona. Maybe he isn’t a demon after all?
A drunken kiss in the dark, a hidden painting and an unexpected inheritance all play a part in bringing our couple together and keeping them apart. Dominic is an artist but we don’t see that side of him, really. It seems more like a device that is thrown in to show that he never stopped thinking of Fallon after their first meeting. However, the device never manages to be as pivotal a plot point as it might have been.
Both of the lead characters had wretched childhoods (and I have to say I am growing weary of all the horrible-ness – it seems like there are too many of those characters lately) and don’t seem to be attempting to move past the wretchedness for most of the book. Eventually they do – in the very last chapter – but the character growth seems rushed.
This is a quiet, thoughtful look at two damaged people who do not expect to find love and how they deal with love when it finds them. In the prologue we see a young Fallon and two friends make wishes on a falling star. Fallon gets her wish in this book and I look forward to seeing her friends get their wishes too.
She works to live …
One would think the last place a beauty like Fallon O’Rourke could keep her virtue was in the Mayfair mansion of London’s most licentious duke, the notorious Dominic Hale. Yet Fallon – who’s endured nothing but lecherous advances since her father’s tragic death – is perfectly safe there … disguised as a footman! Beneath the notice of the dark-haired devil with his smoldering blue eyes and sinful smile, Fallon never imagines her secret will be discovered. But how long can her deception last when she begins to wish she is one of the many women traipsing in and out of the sinful rogue’s bedchamber?
He lives to sin …
Most men envy the duke, never suspecting his pleasure-loving ways are a desperate attempt to escape, however briefly, the pain of a past that’s left him with a heart of stone. Only one woman can break down his defenses. Only one woman can win his love … if she reveals her secret and succumbs to the sins of a wicked duke.
Read an excerpt here.