This is Book 6 in this author’s “Courtesan Chronicles” series. I’m not normally a stickler for reading a series in exact order. However, I think you have a greater appreciation of the characters if you read the previous books in this series.
There are some key things about the main characters in this story that you should know going in. In some ways, Anne and Dutton both try to get out from under the shadow cast by their parents. Anne is the illegitimate child of an English lord (a huge jerk by the way) and a rather unsuccessful courtesan. Dutton is the legitimate child of a different English lord (also a colossal jerk and a very, very bad man). Dutton’s father also played a part in the dark past of Lady Sophia Dalby. Sophia is such a fabulous character & she’s the glue that helps hold the series together. Whenever the conversation comes up in my book groups about which fictional character you wish you could meet, I always think of her. Lady Dalby is an enigmatic Oracle in the series, a master tactician. She’s someone you’d much prefer to have as a friend rather than an enemy. For a time Anne lived with Sophia, and Sophia regards her as another daughter. It was during that time that she came into the orbit of Lord Dutton. The chemistry between them was fierce. However, nothing much came of it for a few reasons. At first, they were both single but he was up to no good. Then later on, she married someone else and he took to the bottle and went on the decline. Dutton seemed to be convinced at one point that Sophia was haunting him, somehow trying to contribute to his ruin and blamed him for the sins of his father. I liked how, at the end, they talked and she explained that she never blamed him for what his father did. She was trying to help him, without him realizing it because she knew that when they met, he wasn’t the kind of man Anne needed. Now, two years after marrying another man, Anne is a wealthy widow and he has gotten himself together since the death of his wicked father. They have both changed a little for the better. For her part, Anne realizes her feminine power and becomes a little more bold and confident. Dutton shows signs of some maturity without losing all his original bad boy sexiness. I loved how the author brought to life the electricity between Anne and Dutton for me. The scenes between them were sexy without being cheesy. Even though there were several side storylines with supporting characters (both old and new), I always felt like the focus was on the two main characters. I never found it too cluttered or distracting. I think that is one of the things I love about this series – they are so well-written, have such good story-telling, that the many characters and their individual storylines woven throughout the main plot just add to the texture and overall richness of the book. If it wasn’t done well, it might be annoying, but it’s done very well. As usual, the witty dialogue had me laughing and smiling in places.
I keep cheering for Sophia and Ruan to have their happy ending. I love how the author says of them,
I am intrigued by some of the new characters. I’m hoping Antoinette will find love – maybe George Grey, Prince Vasily, or Lord Lanreath? I’m always fascinated by Sophia’s nephew George Grey. I’d love to read a story with him as the hero. I was also interested by his twin Elizabeth and the seemingly mutual attraction between her and Lord Raithby. I was looking forward to this story for so long that I was so happy it ended up being as good as I hoped it would be. I look forward to the next book in the series and the further adventures of my favorite characters.They smiled in the same instant, a soft smile between adults in a world of infants.