THE DUKE OF DARK DESIRES
The Wild Quartet #4
by Miranda Neville
Avon/Harper Collins, 12/30/2014
E-Book/ Mass Market Paperback Pages: 384
Audio by Tantor Audio May 26
Print Copy provided by publisher for review purposes. No remuneration was exchanged and all opinions presented herein are my own except as noted.
Wanted: Governess able to keep all hours . . .
Rebellious Julian Fortescue never expected to inherit a dukedom, nor to find himself guardian to three young half-sisters. Now in the market for a governess, he lays eyes on Jane Grey and knows immediately she is qualified–to become his mistress. Yet the alluring woman appears impervious to him. Somehow Julian must find a way to make her succumb to temptation . . . without losing his heart and revealing the haunting mistakes of his past.
Lady Jeanne de Falleron didn’t seek a position as a governess simply to fall into bed with the Duke of Denford. Under the alias of Jane Grey, she must learn which of the duke’s relatives is responsible for the death of her family–and take her revenge. She certainly can’t afford the distraction of her darkly irresistible employer, or the smoldering desire he ignites within her.
But as Jane discovers more clues about the villain she seeks, she’s faced with a possibility more disturbing than her growing feelings for Julian: What will she do if the man she loves is also the man she’s sworn to kill?
This sexy book was hard to put down but its steaminess belies some darker issues that Neville uses the foil of the Regency Romance format to explore.
Having read the other books in the series, I was surprised by the depth and humanity bestowed upon Denford by his creator, Neville. Cold, notorious and normally not very nice, Neville humanizes and rehabs the thorn in the side of the characters in the previous stories. But, that cold and nasty man was no doubt a very good cover for the guilt he felt in his youthful forays in art trading in Paris around the time of the Terror.
Jeanne/Jean is searching for the man who betrayed her family resulting in the deaths of all of except her. She believes that he and Denford share a family name. She is nearly driven to madness by survivor’s guilt and what she had to do to survive.
The questions of guilt and responsibility are two of the issues explored by Neville here. It is a fascinating look at the mental and emotional processes driving both Denford and Jean.
There’s another level of story that is slightly weaker here but is pulled forward from LADY WINDEMERE’S LOVER; that of the involvement in international espionage of the British at the time. Classics like The Scarlet Pimpernel deal with an attempt by the British to help French Aristocrats escape. I don’t know how deeply the story matches the truth, but it is a romantic backdrop upon which to paint a plot and scandal ranging back to the first book in the series.
It is also moving: Jean cares for Denford’s young charges who, of course remind her of her own lost family. Through the young ladies she comes to feel less crazed, but more conflicted about her resolve.
Denford’s family life helps Jean to regain a smidgen of sanity and human feeling; but is it enough to keep her from a tragic date with fate?
The state of Jean’s virtue is also a theme in the book, as it has been throughout the series which has looked at the virtue of a married woman, a widow, a virgin and now at Jean who did what she had to to escape the guillotine.
Neville is one of those writers who goes beyond the nature of the genre to make us think about issues. This story is exciting o its own but it is not quite a a stand-alone. I think it is best read as part of the quartet. But, I highly recommend the series and this entry in the series.
Miranda Neville: http://www.mirandaneville.com/duke-of-dark-desires/
Harper Collins/Avon: http://www.harpercollins.com/9780062243348/the-duke-of-dark-desires
At Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Duke-Dark-Desires-Wild-Quartet-ebook/dp/B00JJUZ22I
At B&N: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-duke-of-dark-desires-miranda-neville/1119128258?ean=9780062243348