After The Sins of Lord Lockwood, Malin told me the rest of Duran’s novel were all good if angsty romances as long as I avoided At Your Pleasure. As a result, I decided to go back a bit further in the Rules for the Reckless series but for some reason picked the second one rather than the first one. Who knows what my thought process was there. Based on the references, I definitely want to read the stories of Marwick’s brother and Elizabeth, and Olivia’s viscountess friend so looks like I will be reading more Duran soon.
This novel tells the story Olivia and the Duke of Marwick, Alastair de Grey (did the nobility ever get confused by their abundance of names and titles?). Olivia is on the run from Bertram, a prominent politician, who has tried to have her killed on at least one occasion. During her last job as secretary for Elizabeth, sister-in-law to Marwick, Olivia discovered that Marwick kept incriminating material on all his friends and opponents in Parliament, and determines that the best way to protect herself is to get possession of this evidence.
Marwick was the shining future of Parliament, a progressive politician fighting for the common fol, and on the path to be a future prime minister when his wife died, and with her death his allusions shattered. Marwick loved his wife, Margaret, and thought they were the perfect power couple. Her death of opium overdose in a hotel suite was shocking enough, but only weeks after her death, Marwick discovers that she cheated on him with at least four men (including Bertram) and wrote them very scandalous and suggestive letters, even betraying his political maneuverings and thwarting him behind his back. While most of the public does not know about Margaret’s affairs, Marwick has been unable to face the outside world, since his self-view was based on a lie. Additionally, he fears that if he ever leaves, his first act would be to kill all the men who made him a cuckold.
After months of isolation, Marwicke’s staff is out of control, making it easy for Olivia to apply for a maid position and be offered the head housekeeper job since the house can’t retain quality staff. Olivia at first thinks this is the perfect way for her to get access to his private papers, but she soon realizes she needs to get the staff in order if she ever wants to snoop in peace, and she needs to get the duke to leave his bedroom if she wants access to the files he keeps with him.
Naturally, Olivia is the first person to challenge the duke in months, which gets his attention. Both end up attracted to each other, but Olivia is not of a high enough position to ever marry a duke. Beyond that, Marwick is broken because of the lies his wife told him, so there is no way he could ever forgive being lied to by a second woman. And yet, there is no denying the spark between them.
I liked the story behind The Sins of Lord Lockwood a lot, but probably have a slight preference for this novel because it has a lighter feel to it. Although, I think I prefer Lockwood as far as romantic heroes go to Marwick so I have to agree with Malin so far on Duran delivering solid romances.