After accolades from her debut novel SCANDAL'S DAUGHTER, author Christine Wells shows immense promise with another steamy and yummy historical with THE DANGEROUS DUKE.
Set in the ever popular Regency period, Maxwell Brooke a celebrated and exacting operative for the Home Office has unexpectedly become a duke. In line for the title it was a horrific twist of fate that arsonists set fire to Lyle Castle which ended up killing the four heirs who would have inherited the title. Bent on bringing the perpetrators to justice Maxwell, now the Duke of Lyle, jailed the stubborn Reverend Stephen Holt who refused to divulge the whereabouts of said arsonists.
Lady Kate Fairchild, mystified over her inability to have her brother released from prison, hastily and without thought of the repercussions, threatened to publish her memoirs which could embarrass high placed members of the crown unless her brother is freed; said memoirs being only a figment of her imagination. After attempts are made on her life, Lyle made plans to kidnap her and have her hidden diary, thinking they contained her memoirs, translated. After the translation Lyle learned not state secrets, but Kate's most intimate sexual fantasies; and Lyle is more than ready to grant her every single one!
*** Whew... one word - steamy! Lyle is one fabulous creation, tall, dark, and dangerously sexy. Having spent so many years as a top operative in the field, Lyle had learned to bank his desires and feelings. Letting down ones guard and letting emotions and feelings get in the way was a good way to get killed, but from the very moment he met Lady Kate he found her wit and intelligence as rapier sharp as his own. Lyle could not get her out of his mind. Along the same lines, Lady Kate who endured a loveless marriage was now widowed. Kate had found solace in her fantasy lover but was now set ablaze by the very dangerous sharp eyed duke. Both leads were cast perfectly in the war of the love. I loved the author's interpretation of the transition that overcame Lyle's mindset after realizing how much Kate meant to him and the risk he was taking if and when she discovered the truth of her kidnapping.
As expected no book has action and depth without having very well defined supporting characters that entertain as well having a compelling plot. In this Wells fashioned extremely well done characters, from Jardine, another of the Home Office's operatives; Lyle's sister Louisa; and Lyle's ubiquitous hero worshipping assistant Perry, not to mention the very pregnant Fanny and her amorous husband Romney.
While I pretty much figured out early in the book who the villain was, the question of "why" became the greater mystery, but all was tied up very nicely at the end. Unfortunately, for me I was left with an unanswered question of what would happen between Jardine and Louisa whose last parting words were so emotionally laden I wanted their story to go on. I sincerely hope that Ms. Wells comes back with a sequel to answer that puzzle.
Bottom line: Good suspense, superb sensuality, and emotionally satisfying give this novel high marks and a very high recommendation.
Marilyn Rondeau, for www.ck2skwipsandkritiques.com