The first book in the Regency Rogues series, published May 2011.
Lord William Randall, the Duke of Clairemont, is a rake with little regard for society - a most unlikely suitor for Lady Lucinda Grey. But his latest assignment for the Young Corinthians, an elite spy organization, involves protecting her from a kidnapping plot. To do this, the notorious 'Iron Will' must use his devilish charm to seduce Lucinda and convince her he's worthy of her attention. William never planned to become enthralled by the lovely Lady Grey - or to lose his own heart in the bargain.
Beautiful and fiercely intelligent, Lucinda has managed to gracefully sidestep even the most persistent suitors. Until the Duke of Clairemont, that is. She's tempted by his sinfully sensuous mouth and piercing eyes, and finds it hard to resist the champion thoroughbred he offers her in exchange for the honor of courting her. Can she keep him at arm's length when his touch begs her to let him so much closer?
Lord William Randall, the Duke of Clairemont, and a spy for the Young Corinthians, has a new assignment, he is not really happy about. He has to convince Lady Lucinda Grey, the richest woman in England, to accept him as a suitor. Which means, if she agrees, to escort her to all kind of social functions, something he hates with a passion. He is a man for brandy and billiards, and not for ball’s and musicales, shopping and Almack’s.
But then he sees Lucinda across the ballroom for the very first time, and he is struck like lightning. He hates having to lie to her, as he is intrigued with her, her character, her honesty and her intelligence. He wants to protect her from her kidnapper, who is also a notorious assassin who loves to torment his victims.
Lady Lucinda lives together with her three aunts, and together they are running a horse breeding program. They are quite content with their lives, and Lucinda really sees no point in giving up her freedom to be married to some man. So she has rejected most single man in London, never felt the slightest attraction to any one of them. Until she sees this big man staring at her, across the ballroom. She knows his reputation ofcourse, Iron Will, and all the scandals to his name. But when they are introduced, and he steals her away from her admirers for a wals, she follows. When he bluntly asks her later if she will accept him as a suitor, she plans to refuse him, but then he bribes her with his horse. He was told she attended his birth, and had always had a soft spot for it. So when Lucinda bites, he is sad to loose the horse, but happy to be spending time with her. Lucinda is surprised by her own actions. Sure, the winning of the horse would be great, but can she keep a distance from this disturbing man?
Her aunts are divided. One is happy to play matchmaker, but the others don’t trust the Duke and his intents. How come he suddenly joins the marriage market? He doesn’t usually appear in the ton but seeks his pleasures elsewhere.
Will has a hard time keeping up with Lucinda, trying to protect her without her noticing it. Planting a servant inside is really helpful. And he can prevent a few kidnapping attempts. He tries to curtail her movements, and even forbids her things. Which Lucinda of course does not accept, he has no right to tell her what to do or what not. And that certainly does not endear him to her or to marriage.
Will and Lucinda fall in love quite easily, and though Lucinda confesses to it, Will is unable to do so. So when Lucinda finally finds out why he is courting her, she is heartbroken. Was everything between them a lie? Does he not love her back after all? To keep her safe, they must continue the charade, but Lucinda is not happy with it. She opens up herself a few more times, to get him to tell her he loves her as well, but to no avail, and then she just can’t take it anymore. She lets herself get set up for bait, just to get it all over with.
For a debut historical romance, it was a nice one. I liked Lucinda a lot, she is a smart young woman who knows what she wants, and what not. Until Will shatters her resolves, and she just loses her heart to him. But for Will, I understand he had a tyrant for a father and a bad childhood because of that, but he knows he is in love. Why can’t he just say so? Even if he doesn’t believe himself worthy of being loved, why can’t he say it back?
The bad guy was really scary, a true psychopath who enjoyed killing. The little scenes with him are giving the suspense part a real boost. But of course it all revolves around the romance. The aunts are a really nice touch, bringing depth and humor to the book. Lucinda her best friend is at first horrified that she is allowing the Iron Will in her company, but later wants to help her admit to his love for her.
There are some funny scenes in the book, but you also see Lucinda’s love for her horses and her aunts. But I also believe the seduction comes too soon, and that Lucinda should follow up on some of the things she finds out. Sometimes she is really though, and sometimes she just cries. Which is of course fine in a historical romance, but not my favourite kind of heroine.
The one thing that really irritated me, are the many typo’s in this book. This publisher should really hire me to proofread their books for them, if the editor is not good enough to spot them.
I am not sure if I will read the other books in this (for now) trilogy. I did enjoy the story, but it was not really unique, and I do believe this author has potential. I won this book in a contest on one of the blogs I follow, and I really appreciate that it is signed and the little extra swag added to it (I love book swag!).