Have I mentioned before that I love a little mystery solving in my novels, initiated by my first Agatha Christie novel, resulting in a life-long reading addiction? No, well it was and, together with my never-ending love of historical romances, Between the Devil and The Duke combined my two reading loves in a very satisfying story that has me wondering why I have never picked up this author before. This book is the third in the Season For Scandal series but, while I recommend that you begin at the beginning with Duke of My Heart, I didn’t feel too lost in this story.
We meet the heroine, Lady Angelique in a gaming hell in London, somewhat disguised behind a mask, systematically taking home winning after winning from other patrons at a vingt-et-un table. Skilled and perceptive enough to avoid suspicion by losing hands every so often, her point of difference is her ability to count the cards. Angelique hides a family secret however, that sets her apart from the other patrons in the club. She is not there out of some decadent desire to indulge, she is there through necessity. Her family’s fortune mysteriously disappeared after her father’s death, and the inane behaviour of her brother to drink and piss away what little of the remaining money, meant that this had become the most efficient means by which she could keep the family’s roof over their heads and keep her younger brothers in school.
I fell in love with Angelique from the beginning, she was independent, courageous and strong, doing everything in her power to look after her younger sibings. I loved the way she totally owned her abilities when Alex discovered her methods and called her into his office. She was not a bragger, but rather, matter-of-fact about her life and what her abilities were. Having been left on the shelf and having suffered cruel rumors by the upper society, still unmarried, she had no time for games or fools and said as such.
Alexander Lavoie was accustomed to the gossiping ton, rumors pegging him as an assassin, a man not to be crossed, he made his own fortune out of hard work and shrewd business decisions. He was comfortable in his own skin, and I was drawn to this enigmatic figure just as much as Angelique was. Smarts had earned him the respect of the wealthy society and smarts kept him there, trusted for his discretion and ability to get the job done, he dabbled in much more than his club. The was something magnetic about Alexander, his wit and intelligence, the protective way he took Angelique under his wing, never taking advantage of her until she gave her permission to give in to the desire they both felt for each other. He was a gentleman with undercurrents of mystery and danger and I really liked him.
As for the relationship between Alex and Angelique, well, it was a perfect match for me. I loved their mature and completely complimentary dialogue, matched in intellect, wit and passion, their attraction was evident from the moment they first met. I loved that Alex was so attracted and turned on by Angelique’s intelligence. He had finally found someone who would match him in and out of the bedroom, as did she. Perfectly in tuned with each other, they picked up on each little nuance, knowing instinctively what the other needed, emotionally and physically, and I enjoyed every minute of it. Their love story was so well paced, their love scenes sensual and well written, and their declarations of love were swoon-worthy.
The thing that stopped me from making this a 5 star read was a few instances where I had the feeling of modern over historical in regards to the dialogue. Teena and Nikki would no doubt pick up the exact phrases or descriptions, but for me, it was a little tug out of the time period without it becoming a focus point or me being able to put a finger on it. I did suspend the need for complete historical accuracies because the story was so captivating.
I cannot go without mentioning the mystery and intrigue that went hand in hand with this love story. As circumstances come to light surrounding Angelique’s, family, we are thrust into the underbelly of London, and just how far someone will go to exact revenge and destroy another. This really satisfied my love of a good mystery and how our heroine and hero were involved, was great. They really ended up being a true hero and heroine in every sense of the word. Overall, this is a read I highly recommend.
Hugs,Tags: 4.5 stars, historical romance, Kelly Bowen, Lee, Season for Scandal series