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Fool Me Twice [Mass Market Paperback]

Meredith Duran
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
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Book Description

27 Mar 2014
Sensible and lonely, Olivia Mather survives by her wits-and her strict policy of avoiding trouble. But when she realizes that the Duke of Marwick might hold the secrets of her family's past, she does the unthinkable, infiltrating his household as a maid. She'll clean his study and rifle through his papers looking for information. Alastair de Grey has a single reason to live: vengeance. More beautiful than Lucifer, twice as feared, and thrice as cunning, he'll use any weapon to punish those who fooled and betrayed him-even an impertinent maid who doesn't know her place. But the more fascinated he becomes with the uppity redhead, the more dangerous his carefully designed plot becomes. For the one contingency he forgot to plan for was falling in love...and he cannot survive being fooled again.

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Product details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: ATRIA BOOKS (27 Mar 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1476741352
  • ISBN-13: 978-1476741352
  • Product Dimensions: 16.8 x 10.4 x 3.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 157,122 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

About the Author

Meredith Duran blames Anne Boleyn for sparking her lifelong obsession with British history (and for convincing her that princely love is no prize if it doesn't come with a happily-ever-after). She spends her free time collecting old etiquette manuals, guidebooks to nineteenth century London, and travelogues by intrepid Victorian women.

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4.8 out of 5 stars
4.8 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Meredith Duran is now among the very short list of amazing authors in the historical romance genre who include Sherry Thomas, Moriah Densley and Laura Kinsale. Although I have read other books authored by Ms. Duran, this book was over the top. Rarely is a reader treated to such a well crafted story-line as was found in this book.

Some readers may be able to personally relate to the story of our "Main Guy" Alastair, who is going through his own type of hell after learning that what he formerly believed about his life was a big, fat lie. In point of fact, some months previous to the beginning of this book, Alastair learned that his wife (now dead) had been not only sleeping around with some of his associates for the past few years, she had also been actively working against Alastair's long years of social work in Parliament.

When our heroine, Olivia, comes into Alastair's life, casting herself into the role of his housekeeper, she has an agenda of her own. Someone has been attempting to end her life for the past seven years and she has had enough. She believes that within the confines of Alastair's home, she can find some documentation that will assist her in bringing down the scoundrel who has been tracking her for the past seven years and has nearly succeeded in taking her life at least once.

However, Olivia's efforts are hampered because the documents she needs are in Alastair's bedroom and he has not left his suite of rooms for lo these many months due to what is often termed as "the paralysis of analysis.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful series in general! 21 April 2014
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Meredith Duran's books are usually hit or miss for me, but this series is definitely something I really enjoy. Beautiful story, wonderful dialogues between characters... Alastair is a very vulnerable man on the edge of madness, and Olivia brings him back to life by sheer force of will. There is humour and honesty, but there is also a female character not prone to drama and over-analyzing everything, which is something I always try to avoid reading about. Please, do try this. Very much recommended!
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By Gaele
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I’m in an admitted historic romance kick – and while I have some favorite authors already in the genre, Meredith Duran is a new author for me. Fool Me Twice is the second in a series, but I found that it stood alone quite well, with enough background given for recurring characters to make any questions moot, but stirring a desire to read their stories.

I enjoyed Duran’s writing, she manages to present the period giving the reader a sense of the time and the setting, and giving characters a touch of modernity to appeal to contemporary readers. Olivia is clever, determined and in more than her fair share of difficulty. Her intention is to pose as a housekeeper to gain access to letters that will remove the threats against her person, held in the keeping of Alastair, Duke of Marwick.

Alastair, for his part, is the consummate political animal: controlled and with a long memory for slights and little patience for questions. He has serious issues with trust, his late wife betrayed his trust and broke his heart with her unfaithfulness, and he is seeking to wield his not inconsiderable power to gain vengeance against those who have wronged him.

These two are an interesting pairing: while Alastair is intrigued by the clever redhead, he is often put out by her seeming nosiness and inability to ‘stay in her place”. These two are so damaged with bone-deep secrets that they strive to bury in the past; yet the issues from those secrets are reenacted repeatedly in act and deed with one another, particularly in terms of their attraction.
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5.0 out of 5 stars character growth with a bit of angst 28 Mar 2014
Format:Mass Market Paperback
25y.o heroine becomes the new housekeeper of the house of 35y.o master statesman Hero. Hero hasn't left his bedroom since after his wife died about 10 months ago. The rest of the household staff are astonished at heroine's boldness in challenging him to step out of his room. She is secretly motivated to do so due to her desire to search for papers in his possession that would give her the freedom she's been seeking for the past 8 years. Their consequent affair ends as soon as he discovers her deceit. How does he learn to trust her again? What can their romance mean to his future political career?

I don't give many 5-star ratings and I haven't liked all of Duran's books. But this book deserves a 5-star. The writing is smooth and crisp, making tangible what's being described. It's emotionally engaging, bringing humor, angst, sadness, suspense, and hope. Sexual chemistry developed more as the story unfolded. The romance unfolded gradually and greatly intensified from 50% of the book.** The greatest strength of the book, though, is Hero and heroine's characterization. We experienced their character growth throughout their secret romance. They (especially Hero) became stronger and more mature people at the end, guaranteeing an HEA(happy ever after) future for these 2.

Highly recommended.

**A more detailed review with SPOILERS is on my blog ... movesme.blogspot.com/2014/03/fool-me-twice-meredith-duran.html
*ARC provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.5 out of 5 stars  90 reviews
25 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely amazing 25 Mar 2014
By Mary @ *Buried Under Romance* - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Meredith Duran unceasingly delights me as a wordsmith and a master at understanding the elements that concoct complex, genuine, and lovable characters.

There is nothing for Olivia and Alastair but the darkness of their pasts and the need to escape them. The intense loneliness as a result of their respective missions is the exact force that exerted a magnetic pull among the two -- Olivia's amazing capacity for love and understanding desperate her own desperate situation, and Alastair's futile attempt to erase all the purity and goodness from his heart.

Olivia has set out to rob Alastair of certain letters to escape her own pursuers, but ends up stealing the precious remains of Alastair's near-frozen heart. He, unwilling to trust and love after the betrayal of his deceased wife, reluctantly opened his heart to the intelligent, dear Olivia, whose unadulterated soul saved him from the depths of despair.

There is a certain brilliance in the minds and hearts of both Olivia and Alastair. He, a shrewd politican with the soul of a true scholar, first enchanted Olivia with his beautifully articulate writings on every scholarly subject there is. She, a former secretary, wanted to harden her heart towards the man from whom she intended to rob, yet stayed on to knock life into him.

The summation of Alastair's grief is revealed - the perfection he strove as a result of his parents' scandals, and when he had thought he held the world in his hands...it was all a mere illusion.

And in Olivia, his light returned.

"He gave her a gentle smile. "Humor and wit, in the quirk of your lips. And in your eyes..." His smile faded. "Hope."" (Loc 3369)

Yet, in the way that Alastair dominates the first half of the book, Olivia dominates the second. Her resilience, true of heart and brave of spirit, withstood the pain of her past and gave her the strength to help Alastair in his time of need.

My diction is insufficient to express the intangible grip with which these characters held my heart. Set in the rich and opulent Victorian era, Duran nonetheless showcases the darkness of the era in its class differences, a duality of the historical era reflected through the opaque eyes of Alastair and Olivia. The dichotomy between light and darkness; the morality of man vs. the purity of darkness, are both written in an astoundingly sublime manner within this story. I ached for Alastair, feared for Olivia, and celebrated their joining. This book is a journey which every romance reader should undertake. I cannot recommend this book highly enough.

(I'm not providing a detailed summary as the beauty is in discovering the story by yourself, and also because the blurb suffices. ^_^)
*My sincerest thanks to the publisher for a review copy; yes, it's an honest review. Also bought this because it's that good.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 5 stars plus 5 more stars 26 Mar 2014
By D. Salvagin La Deetda Reads - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition
I think I will characterize this book as a “Historical Romantic Suspense” rather than just a Historical Romance. There are so many delightful surprises and twists just when we think that we have things figured out. Olivia’s history unfolds slowly throughout the book and I couldn’t help but make some totally unfounded assumptions that proved to be totally incorrect. Alastair is such a broken shell that it is magic the way Ms. Duran brings him back to life through Olivia. There is an evil villain that drives the story and the revenge that Alistair seeks and Olivia’s desperation.
The plotting of this novel is superb, the characterization is superb, the dialog is believeable and the setting of Victorian England is brought to life. This book deserves 5 stars and 5 more stars.
18 of 22 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Sketchy romance 1 April 2014
By Laura Beyers - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This book was the first of Duran's I really didn't like the preview put out in advance. Unfortunately, it turns out the big issue in the preview (crazy unsexy power imbalance) wasn't very much remedied in the rest of the book.

I have no fault with the heroine's spine; she refuses to be intimidated by him, even when he often scares her with violent behavior (red flag!). What really got to me, though, was his narration, how he thought about her and their relationship. On the positive side, it was actually very IC for someone raised to be a duke, i.e. superior to 99% of the people he meets over his entire life. On the negative side, it did not make for a sexy relationship or one that the romance novel reader wants to root for.

This is what first pinged my "oh no bad news" radar, in the preview, as the "hero" (Alastair) broods over his unfaithful dead wife (whom he did not murder, she died of opium overdose):

"He'd learned Margaret too easily, and never learned her at all. He would not make that mistake again. The next time, he would not leave the bed until he had mastered the woman in it. He would learn that trick, no matter how much study it took."

I stared at that paragraph for a while, wondering if maybe it meant "master" as you master an academic field...but, unfortunately, in light of everything else he thinks in the book, I can't accept that. Also when you speak of "mastering" a person...it is never the same as mastering a field of study, sorry.

But this "hero" (I don't usually use quotes around that to refer to the male protagonist of romance novels, but this dude is by far my least favorite of all of Duran's male protagonists) is the brooding type (ugh how insufferable), the kind who fancies himself dark and soulless and either locks himself in his bedroom for MONTHS, refusing to see anyone, or else stalks about going OH WHAT A VILLAIN I AM. Spoiler: he does both.

(Disclaimer: the one time he actually did become a legitimate villain was in the preview for the last book, A Scandalous Summer, when he shut down Michael's hospital with very little notice. As they said in this book, three hundred patients had to be immediately transferred. What they didn't say is that some of those patients certainly died because of that childish tantrum.)

Now, look. I'm a sucker for erotica featuring dubcon (dubious consent, like when one doesn't explicitly ask for permission and the other one's reaction -- not just physical, but emotional -- is torn, undecided, at least at the onset of the sex scene), and power imbalances are really good at creating such scenarios.

But what's much more difficult for me to take is a whole romance novel resting on power imbalances. I know Olivia isn't a typical maid or housekeeper. But even though she makes it clear he doesn't intimidate her, he still often scares her by acting violently or touching her waaaaaay beyond what propriety allows.

The very first scene between them (the one where they actually exchange words, I mean, not the one where he throws a bottle at her) illustrates this perfectly. One minute he's punching the wall next to her head; the next, he's stroking her lip and caressing her neck in a vaguely threatening manner. They're in his bedroom with no one else present, as the butler already fled.

Let me remind you again that this is the first time they're speaking to each other -- he has no idea who she is, all he knows is that she's his new servant -- and this is how he treats her. This is not sexy.

Another example of a deeply unsexy quote from his POV:

"He knew why he wanted her. Just as an engineer coveted strange new devices, he wanted to strip her, disassemble her, study her parts, and make her secrets his own."

Wow! If he'd actually said that aloud, I think Olivia wouldn't have been so quick to let him put a ring on her finger.

But a few scenes that I liked: when she realizes what priceless books he has on his floor, and endeavors to rescue them as he chases her out -- that scene was cute, as it felt less ominous and suggested they were more evenly matched, despite their disparity in station. Also I liked her teasing him on the train (when he was so immature as to ignore her/refuse to acknowledge that they'd had sex the night before), and the scene in the village when she uses him to confirm the suspicions of all the snobbish matrons, and also confronts how he called her "brazen" and "shameless" earlier that day. Nice lesson.

But the next sex scene, in the carriage, was also deeply disturbing. You have to read the whole scene to grasp the really unhealthy possessiveness on his part, encapsulated in this:

"When she tried to sit up, to assist him, he forced her back down with another, deeper kiss. He did not require assistance. Be still, he did not say, because he did not want her cooperation; it was her submission he craved, and it was his challenge to earn it. Give yourself to me."

Now I think I understand what Duran is going for -- she's portraying an edgier Dom/sub relationship, perhaps even like 50 Shades of Gray (minus the sex toys/bondage games). But the thing is, what those relationships require in order to be healthy and fun and avoid getting seriously abusive, is a verbal agreement, a mutual understanding for the conditions and limitations and a safe exit route for either of them to break off the entire relationship without repercussions. And in Fool Me Twice, that possessive, dominating attitude is entirely contained in Alastair's head. Olivia has no idea what she's getting into, and that deeply alarms me. She's one of the most intelligent, self-sufficient heroines that Duran has written so far, and I don't think she's going to be down for all of this!

And on another subject, I'm concerned for her social life after this marriage. Elizabeth was putting it mildly about how hard things were going to be for her -- the majority of aristocratic women will NEVER accept her, she's too much of a huge blinking threat to their own status, because their whole world is built on the class structure and the fact that those servants they order around can never rise to someone they'd sit and have tea with.

So yes, I hope Olivia will get to hang out with Elizabeth, and maybe the heroines of all of Duran's other contemporary novels, as otherwise the loneliness and rejection she'd suffer would likely take a huge toll on their marriage. (I can't tell you how much I want to see sequels to a lot of Duran's novels, especially the ones that involve marriages across class, like in Your Wicked Heart, and I want to see a follow-up on Elizabeth's drinking problems, because I refuse to believe her marriage to Michael magically cured that. Did people back then even know to avoid alcohol while pregnant??) But yes, the only people who will even talk and make nice with Olivia will be those trying to win favor with her husband, which she will KNOW and that will make her even MORE miserable. This is not a happy future!

Am I taking this too seriously for a romance novel series? Maybe so, but the thing is, Meredith Duran is too damn good of a writer, and she excels at the historical detail. I can't lower my expectations for her.

In conclusion: Power imbalances played for straight romance creep me out! And almost every significant encounter/moment this couple shared was shot through with them!
14 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Restores my interest in the genre 25 Mar 2014
By Wayfaring Stranger - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This novel is a refreshing piece of storytelling and should not be overlooked. Those readers who are tired of the historical romance template of shallow, helpless heroine and dissolute, bored hero need look no further for an emotional, yet cerebral read.

The main characters are very well fleshed out and the story is told from of their points of view, giving us a real connection to their actions and the motives behind them. I found myself re-reading passages - not because I didn't understand what was being said or described, but because the writing was that engrossing. Ms. Duran is indeed a true wordsmith and makes me want to slow down and absorb the way the story unfolds instead of chasing the last page.

Another Amazon reviewer, Mary Chen, said it best, "...My diction is insufficient to express the intangible grip with which these characters held my heart. Set in the rich and opulent Victorian era, Duran nonetheless showcases the darkness of the era in its class differences, a duality of the historical era reflected through the opaque eyes of Alastair and Olivia. The dichotomy between light and darkness; the morality of man vs. the purity of darkness, are both written in an astoundingly sublime manner within this story...."

Brava, Ms. Duran.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Keeper! 30 Mar 2014
By Gigimomma - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
The Duke of Marwick has gone mad. In the heels of his wife's untimely death from an overdose came the discovery of damning letters written to her many lovers who also happened to be Marwick' s most ardent political opponents. The realization that his marriage was a sham and that his wife had not only made a cuckold of him but was quietly engineering his downfall was unbearable. The degree of treachery stunned him but the knowledge that all his ideals, everything he thought to be true was an illusion was what destroyed him. Enter Olivia, on the run for her very life, looking for documents in the duke' s possession that were the key to her freedom. Olivia longed for nothing more than to be free, to live a quiet staid life in a bucolic village somewhere no longer looking over her shoulder. For this she was willing to lie, steal and cheat. She arrives at the dukes London residence intending to do just that by posing as a maid. Only the duke' s complete withdrawal has sent his household into an upheaval and Olivia must now contend with a house full of wayward servants. She intends to find the documents and flee as soon as possible but her plans go awry when she realizes the key to her freedom is located in Marwick' s private rooms where he has holed himself up in darkness for months. So, she must help the duke overcome his self imposed isolation and rejoin the world again in order to get that which she most desires. The ability to snoop in his room and obtain the documents depends on the duke leaving his quarters. But that's easier said than done, the former political wunderkind is now a shell of a man, a barely functioning human. Olivia has never been able to resist a challenge and bringing the duke back from the darkness turns into more than a means to an end. She realizes the duke isn't truly mad, he's broken.The glimpses into the great, kind, powerful, witty, intelligent man he once was move her and little by little she finds that she wants to bring him back to life, to his former glory and that increasingly means putting her own plans on hold and her heart in jeopardy.

When I turned the last page I did something I rarely do. I turned right back to chapter one and read the whole thing again. It is that good! Meredith Duran is one of the few authors published today that write true historical romances. No anachronistic nonsense, no wallpapering will be found in her stories. Light and fluffy is not her thing and thank heavens for it. She is an amazingly talented writer the dialogue in her books is witty, humorous, intelligent and fairly crackles off the pages. Fool Me Twice is a great example of this talent. It is a showcase of all her strengths as an author. Great dialogue, well plotted story, intelligent heroine, a hero who is to die for and love scenes that alternate from steamy to so incredibly sweet it made my teeth ache. I loved Marwick. He broke my heart and made it sing all at once. Perfect hero. Tortured, hiding his vulnerable heart behind an arrogant an icy facade. I loved Olivia and her spine of steel, her refusal to be cowed by life and her circumstances. Her refusal to leave Marwick in the dark. Her sheer strength is what saves him and he recognizes this and admires her greatly for it. What a great thing it is to read a book where the heroine does the rescuing! Of course, Marwick does a bit of rescuing himself in a scene that made me come this close to standing up and cheering. This book is as close to perfect as you can get. If you love well written, intelligent historical romances with a heroine you can root for and hero who is to die for pick up this book. Highly recommended.
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