(Season for Scandal, #2)
Genre: Historical Romance (Regency, 1819)
Love takes the stage…
Elise deVries is not what she seems. By night, the actress captivates London theatergoers with her chameleon-like ability to slip inside her characters. By day, she uses her mastery of disguise to work undercover for Chegarre & Associates, an elite agency known for its discreet handling of indelicate scandals. But when Elise is tasked with locating the missing Duke of Ashland, she finds herself center stage in a real-life drama.
Noah Ellery left the glamour of the London aristocracy to pursue a simpler life in the country. He’s managed to avoid any complications or entanglements—that is, until he lays eyes on Elise and realizes there’s more to this beautiful woman than meets the eye. But when Elise reveals her real identity—and her true feelings for him—the runaway duke must confront the past he left behind . . . to keep the woman he loves forever.
This is the second novel in Kelly Bowen’s latest Season of Scandal series and, although I have not read the first book, I don’t think this adversely affected my enjoyment of A Duke to Remember. It definitely made me want to read the other books in the series.
The whole idea of Chegarre & Associates, a firm who provide effective solutions to scandals involving members of the ton, struck me as being original and I love the fact that two of the three partners in the business are women who do not conform to the normal roles expected of them.
Strong, confident, perceptive and smart, Elise once served as a tracker for the British Army and is handy with both a knife and a gun, proficiencies she demonstrates later in the book. Her part-time work as an actress enables her to adopt different disguises, useful in her work for Chegarre & Associates, whether she is posing as a moustached, bespectacled doctor or an exotic, masked French countess. Elise has been playing so many roles in her job and in the theatre that she doesn’t really know who she is anymore and I think this insecurity gives her an element of vulnerability making her seem more human.
Between this job and her work as a part-time actress at the Theatre Royal, she barely recognized herself anymore at any given moment. Every day brought a new role and a new deception to play out.
I can understand Noah’s feelings towards his parents He can never forgive the two people who should have loved and cared for him, but chose to abandon him to a hellish existence because he wasn’t perfect (the official blurb is very misleading because he did not leave the glamour of London society). I admire the way he reinvented himself and found a measure of happiness as a simple farmer and never wants to return to the world he was born into.
“I do not have a responsibility to anything,” he growled. “Not to my father, not to my mother. Not to Ashland’s piles of properties and strings of titles and coffers of money.”
Noah is kind, intelligent and sensitive and I could see how much he cares for and is protective of his sister Abigail, who had always championed and defended him. Their reunion scene really tugged at my heartstrings. In contrast, his years on the streets of London have taught him how to take care of himself and that street fighter comes into his own when danger threatens Elise.
I just loved everything about the romance – the heated attraction between them; the witty dialogue (I love how they steal each other’s lines); Noah’s tendency to blush; the way my heart gave a little flip when Noah gives Elise the rose; the raw, passionate love scene; the heartbreak and the joy. Ms Bowen writes with an emotional intensity which pulled me into the story and refused to let go.
A melding of hearts and souls – I think this quote perfectly describes the connection between Elise and Noah. I love how Elise makes Noah believe that he can be anything he wants to be and gives him the strength and courage to take up his true position in society.
She believed in him. Even knowing everything that she did, she believed in him. More than he had ever believed in himself.
I love how Noah sees the real Elise.
“I see you, Elise DeVries. No matter what clothes you might wear or what mask you might assume, I see your courageous heart and I see your beautiful mind. I see your compassion and your hope, your resilience and your strength. If you do not know who you are, know that I do.”
I found so many of the secondary characters intriguing, among them:
- Alice’s brother Alex who is a partner in Chegarre & Associates but also owns one of the most exclusive gaming hells in London frequented by some of the most influential and infamous members of the ton. These elite gamblers not only part with their money but also their secrets. (his book, Between the Devil and the Duke, is already on my must-read list).
- Ivory Moore, founder of Chegarre & Associates, and her husband, the Duke of Alderidge (I bought their book, Duke of My Heart as soon as I had finished reading this one), who cleverly assist in establishing Noah’s credentials as the true Duke of Ashland. I love the scene at the solicitors where Noah and the duke pretend to be old friends – by the time the scene ended, they had me believing every word!
- The mysterious King, described as a man as dangerous and as unpredictable as a pit viper. We learn some intriguing details about him during the course of the story including his connection to Noah, all of which made me hope the Ms Bowen has a book in the pipeline for him.
Francis Ellery is a self-serving villain through and through…a liar, a cheat and a gambler with heavy debts, who will stop at nothing to steal the Ashland title and wealth.
I like the warm-hearted Mrs Pritchard, Noah’s housekeeper, and I have a soft spot for animals in romances. Noah has a dog called Square and if you are thinking that’s a strange name for a dog, then you will have to read the book to discover why he’s so called.
MY VERDICT: This is a wonderful blend of an engaging story, well-drawn characters and delicious sexual tension. Highly recommended.
REVIEW RATING: 5/5 STARS
SENSUALITY RATING: WARM
Read September 2016
Season of Scandal series (click on the book cover for more details):