Saturday, July 16, 2016
Maiden Lane Series/Book 10
Grand Central Publishing/May 31, 2016
A MAN OF SIN
Devastatingly handsome. Vain. Unscrupulous. Valentine Napier, the Duke of Montgomery, is the man London whispers about in boudoirs and back alleys. A notorious rake and blackmailer, Montgomery has returned from exile, intent on seeking revenge on those who have wronged him. But what he finds in his own bedroom may lay waste to all his plans.
A WOMAN OF HONOR
Born a bastard, housekeeper Bridget Crumb is clever, bold, and fiercely loyal. When her aristocratic mother becomes the target of extortion, Bridget joins the Duke of Montgomery's household to search for the incriminating evidence-and uncovers something far more dangerous.
A SECRET THAT THREATENS TO DESTROY THEM BOTH
Astonished by the deceptively prim-and surprisingly witty-domestic spy in his chambers, Montgomery is intrigued. And try as she might, Bridget can't resist the slyly charming duke. Now as the two begin their treacherous game of cat and mouse, they soon realize that they both have secrets-and neither may be as nefarious-or as innocent-as they appear . . .
Ever since Valentine Napier, the Duke of Montgomery first appeared, he's been a curiosity. He's rude, arrogant, beautiful, rich and powerful. He's also without scrupulous - blackmailing when he can, killing when he deems it necessary. I would not call him likable, only fascinating in the way predatory animals are fascinating. You want to know more about them but you don't want to get too close. Bridget Crumb had to get close, and she found out what was behind the beautiful facade.
Bridget Crumb is an appealing heroine with her practicality and hard work ethics. She didn't grow-up as a pampered lady but started working as household help when she was twelve. She is portrayed as being young (she's 26) but still able to command the household staff with great finesse. She does have a healthy unease regarding the Duke. She knows she must be careful to not be found out by the Duke when searching out his blackmail evidence. She's quite quick with her comebacks when engaging in verbal sparing with the Duke. I do think those were my favorite scenes, with Bridget and Val, sparring with words. Bridget's brilliant riposte of the Duke's parry was like watching a fencing match. Even when she stumbled under the Duke's greater expertise, Bridget still held her own.
The Duke of Montgomery is a cold, demanding aristocrat who doesn't apologize for his words or actions. I didn't find him likable at the beginning and that had not changed much by the end of the story. I liked Bridget well enough but Val didn't leave me feeling as if he had changed overly much from the first time he showed up in the series. He is fiercely protected of those he cares for, but not at all trustworthy. I'm not sure even Bridget should trust him completely.
Val loves playing with people, seeing how they will react to his games he enjoys playing so well. It wouldn't be such an issue except he plays with people's lives. You could make a argument in his favor because the people he blackmails are either doing or have done something wrong. But why should Val get to profit form other's mistakes? He did have a horrible childhood, with disgusting parents who should have been locked in a dungeon. When we find out about his childhood, that is when I felt sympathy for him. For the child he was and the reality he was forced to endure. He is justified in taking actions against those who hurt him and his sister when they were children. But does it justify all of Val's actions?
The plot is centered around Val's blackmailing and Bridget's attempts at stopping him. We do get to see some of Val's sister, Eve, the heroine in the previous book, Sweetest Scoundrel. But the hero and heroine remain the focal point as far as the relationships go. I did like seeing how Bridget's pragmatic nature warred with Val's impractical one. Val's lifestyle is filled with opulence while Bridget takes pleasure in the smaller joys. She also teaches Val to appreciate the simpler things in life. Val teaches Bridget that she is desirable, not only for her body but for her mind.
In the end, I was happy to see Val and Bridget ride off into the sunset towards their HEA but it didn't have the same impact as previous books in the series. I will say I am looking forward to the next book, The Duke of Pleasure. Love what we've seen so far of the hero and heroine.
Maiden Lane Series ~
Thief of Shadows
Lord of Darkness
Duke of Midnight
Duke of Sin
Once Upon a Moonlight Night (novella)
Duke of Pleasure (November 29, 2016)