So far I’ve really been enjoying this collaboration of old and new romance with Connie Mason and Mia Marlow. The writing is seamless and the characters, along with the storylines, have always kept my interest. While their latest release is a good read, it doesn’t grab me the way their prior stories have. Mostly it’s the hero who gives me a difficult time, and that’s something that is unusual for me. Me and heroes? Normally a perfect fit.
But this go-round rake Rhys Warrick takes me on an up-and-down chase of emotion and feeling throughout the book. One minute I like him, I feel for him, the next I’m irritated with him. Usually I can go with that flow, but the irritation comes with the way he treats the heroine. While I realize his treatment of her comes from his own confusion at times, I still can’t forgive the way he speaks to her, the way he makes her feel here and there. Now, that being said, he does eventually talk to her about whatever the issue is, asks what’s wrong, and tries to make things better, and I like his caring for doing so. Until he does it all over again.
Rhys seeks Olivia out because he’s being blackmailed. After returning from the Napoleonic War and a botched mission with his men, Rhys’ honor and word mean nothing when he’s accused of treason. No one believes in his innocence. Not even his father. Being a second son of the family, he does what most second sons do when the clergy is not an option – Rhys becomes a first-class rake. Out of the blue his political blackmailer tempts Rhys with information that will clear his name, if he will ruin Olivia to end her upcoming betrothal to the Duke of Clarence in a race to see who can beget the next heir to throne, since Princess Charlotte and her son have died. This is what will also keep the series going, Rhys’s two best friends are also on the receiving end of the blackmail and there are two other potential heroines who need a good debauching.
Olivia is the typical English virgin being married off in a deal with her father, and until Rhys shows up, posing as an emissary of the Duke, she’s willing to do her duty. However, the more she gets to know Rhys, the more she falls for his charm, gentleness, and kindness. Little by little she draws his story from him and her heart is no longer her own. Contrary to his mission, the same happens to Rhys. He doesn’t even have his own name to give her, but he can’t let her go. He’s been protecting her since he discovered someone is stalking her, bringing about dangerous and nearly fatal situations. Finally having to tell her what he suspects, and needing her with him always, they marry and Rhys swallows his pride when he decides only his father will be able to help them.
This is where Rhys finally comes up to snuff for me, but it does take a bit too long. He does have a dilemma on his hands, getting his name, his family, his life back versus the new life he can have with Olivia. But Rhys is a smart man and that smartness seems to kick in too late to override the impression already built up in my head. I know, of course, that he will eventually do what’s right for both himself and Olivia, but when that doesn’t happen until the last quarter of the book, that’s a little much to ask for a reader turnaround. That being said, I do like the way Rhys does turn around. Olivia stands by him for the most part, but she does begin to have some doubt once and again, as she should. However, she’s strong and she believes in the Rhys she’s come to know.
So those ups and downs don’t stop even when Rhys realizes how he truly feels about Olivia, and that only brings up other oscillating emotions for both of these characters. I just wish Rhys would be a tad more consistent during the journey, in a more positive way. But overall, this is still a good read. Ms. Mason and Ms. Marlowe make a great team, and I’m already looking forward to their next endeavor.
To prevent three royal dukes from marrying their way onto the throne, heroic, selfless agents for the crown will be dispatched…to seduce the dukes’ intended brides. These wickedly debauched rakes will rumple sheets and cause a scandal. But they just might fall into their own trap…
After he’s falsely blamed for a botched assignment during war, former cavalry officer Rhys Warrick turns his back on “honor.” He spends his nights in brothels doing his best to live down to the expectations of his disapproving family. But one last mission could restore the reputation he’s so thoroughly sullied. All he has to do is seduce and ruin Miss Olivia Symon and his military record will be cleared. For a man with Rhys’s reputation, ravishing the delectably innocent miss should be easy. But Olivia’s honesty and bold curiosity stir more than Rhys’s desire. Suddenly the heart he thought he left on the battlefield is about to surrender…
Read an excerpt.