Known to society as "The Perfection" Diccan Hilliard has spent years carefully crafting his carefree, sartorially splendid, charming persona. His role as a rising diplomat is yet another front, all helping to hide his secret work for the government. Returning from the continent with news of a treasonous plot, Diccan is braced for his enemies' next move...
And then he wakes up in Grace Fairchild's bed.
As tall as a man and painfully plain, Grace is under no illusions about her prospects in life. But after a life following the army, caring for her father and his soldiers, she's finally free to live her own life. No more duty, no more hiding. It's time to live the life she wants.
Until she wakes up to find Diccan Hilliard in her bed and all her dreams turn to dust. Because while Grace couldn't care less about her own place in society, Diccan's reputation is important - and no one will believe they'd both been drugged. A more reluctant pair is hard to imagine, but honour and duty must be satisfied, and after that the real struggles begin.
After the excellent Barely a Lady
, Eileen Dreyer returns with the second in the DRAKE'S RAKES series. And once again her heroine is exceptional. Grace first appeared as Lady Kate's colourless companion, whose father died valiantly at Waterloo. An everyday, ordinary young woman with extraordinary character, I really felt for Grace as she strove to turn herself into the wife Diccan needed.
In fact I had so much sympathy for her that I only had frustration left for Diccan. Yes, he suffers as he struggles to do his best for king and country, while also trying to keep Grace safe. But why didn't he just tell her? It's bad enough when he doesn't realise quite how much he's hurting her, but his lack of respect for her intellect is worse.
If you can't forgive - or read about - infidelity, no matter the reasons, consider yourself well warned not to pick this book up.
At times the emotions are pretty dark, but thankfully there are plenty of other characters to dilute the pain. Vivacious Lady Kate, wonderful Lady Bea, Grace's Grenadiers, adorable Chuffy and his Battle of Cornwell/Croyden/Corunna, and a brief reappearance from Olivia and Jack all help strengthen this Regency world.
Heart-wrenching and passionate, intriguing and dangerous, with secret plots and wishful dreams, this is Grace's story more than Diccan's, and as such I wanted her to be happy. Yes, the sudden shift to Kate's problems just before the end was abrupt, out of place and badly handled. And yes, Grace forgives far, far too easily, but I still got a happy glow when she got what she wanted. Even if it was so much more than Diccan deserved. Next up, what Lady Kate did next in Always a Temptress
. Looks intriguing.