Between the Devil and the Duke by Kelly Bowen
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Angelique's life has turned her from a pampered Lady of wealth to a masked card counting lady trying to keep the bill collectors at bay.
Alex has been a farmer soldier fighting for his homeland to now the owner of the wealthiest gaming hell in London.
They both have their secrets but the spark and burn between them won't be denied. Lies, betrayals, money, and sex, Angelique and Alex stand in the eye of it all.
Though Angelique didn't consider herself daring. She was simply desperate.
Third in the Season for Scandal series, this could be read as a standalone but a solid understanding of how secondary characters fit and of Alex's background would be slightly missed if done so. However, the romance and relationship between Angelique and Alex begins right here. Rarely, do I begin a review with talk of a secondary character but Angelique's brother brought out such a visceral reaction from me I can't help but start with a warning to be prepared to want to commit murder. It's a testament to the author's ability to write a character that brings out such a reaction but there was a moment when I thought Angelique's brother was possibly dumbed-down too much in favor of raising Angelique's pedestal.
You'll feel for Angelique, for her helplessness and her spine. She's a math genius that due to the time period must find creative ways to use her talents in hopes of making money for her family. Alex was our sexy, strong, and heroine enabling hero who had a fascinating background that was fully sketched out but I personally felt didn't get to visit enough. Considering his sister was the heroine of the previous book in the series, I would have liked more interaction between them and maybe a little more healing from their shared pain of fighting in a war and losing a brother. Also, while his propensity to exclaim "Mmmm" started off as a funny character trait, the overabundance started to limit him; I started to miss some feel for his character. I know the "Mmmm" was to represent his humor, bafflement, or sarcasm for the moment/discussion, but actually getting a turn of phrase for at least one out of three of these moments would have added much color to his personality.
"Nothing from the past can make me anything less than whoever it is I wish to be."
I thought this started off really strong with the attraction and interaction between Alex and Angelique. Their sexual tension enticed me to want to keep reading them but I was a bit disappointed on how quickly it was acted upon and I was left missing that anticipation. Angelique's family drama, the plot that drives the danger and mystery, was all laid out admirably but the middle sagged somewhat for me as the author dragged out some misdirection (regarding secondary characters) to, in my opinion, unnecessarily keep the reader guessing.
Angelique and Alex were both interesting characters in their own right and they did have the spark us readers all crave for our couples. I wanted my anticipation to be feed a little longer but this couple definitely had some heat to them. If you're looking for a 1800s historical with family drama, betrayals, and heat set in a world where you can't wait for secondary characters to get their own book, add this one to your list.
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