I think the thing I loved most about this book is how intelligent the characters are – and how well-developed every nuance and facet of their personalities is developed. Daphne and the Duke of Castleford are well matched in determination, willpower, smarticles, and passion and I loved watching them grow in their love for one another. One decent spark was all that was needed before the two fell into an explosive passion worthy of a gasoline-fueled fire. And Castleford... oh my, Castleford. Wow. So, onward, my dearies, to the plot.
Castleford has just mysteriously inherited four small estates from his deceased, but still sanctimonious, cousin – each with tenants who board for mysteriously little rent. The man who bequeathed the estates to him asks only that he continue to allow the tenants to board at that mysteriously little amount for the rest of their lives. Determined to get to the bottom of all this mysteriousness, Castleford sets to the first of the estates where he discovers a little flower shop run by a woman that sets all his previous mysteries to shame – Daphne Joyes. Never has he met a more intriguing woman – a woman that can match and entertain him every day of the week, including Tuesdays. Her intelligence, her wit, her will are all unmatched and Castleford simply must have her. But Ms. Joyes may be the one person the Duke of Castleford cannot buy…
Castleford was an incredible character. Not only was he seething with intelligence but he practically oozed charm and gorgeousness. I was drowning in him every time his name filled the page. He was a character, surely, and a delicious one at that. I had only wished he’d lived up to the reputation he’d set for himself in the earlier books – he was a little less witty and charming (and outrageous) in this book that the previous ones. He was seductive, however, and dangerous in that without-a-care rich-bad-boy way. I loved his compulsion with Tuesdays and how that played out in this book, and I liked his manipulative ways. I found them more amusing than dastardly, especially because he usually uses his manipulative intelligence for good rather than ill. He’s a much better man than he, or the world, believes him to be and that endeared him to me greatly.
The Duke has never had to work for anything and is desperately bored and in need of a challenge, which is definitely what the lovely Daphne turns out to be. Not wooed by wealth or charm (or a wealth of charm, which Castleford certainly possesses), Daphne is the epitome of the strong, resilient, wonderful heroine who continually saves herself and everyone around her even when it is nigh impossible. It was very clear to see why Castleford loved this strong, self-possessed woman – and she deserved his love. She was an amazing woman, and I delighted in her company throughout the book.
The only unfortunate thing for this book was that it didn’t live up to my high expectations. The plot was interesting, though a little chaotic, the characters were humorous and fun, the romance was gratifying and passionate. But Daphne, and especially Castleford, had been built so high in the first three books I didn’t quite feel they met my expectations and I found myself underwhelmed and a little disappointed. Castleford was much less exciting when he got his own book. In fact, at times he felt more comfortable than dangerous. I think this book would have gotten a much higher grade had I not gone into it with my hopes so high, but the feeling of un-met expectations left a slightly bitter taste to the book long after I’d finished and for any lover of this series, it will probably do the same.
“Sexy”ness rating: Yum-tastic *sighs* Every girl needs a Castleford.
Overall Rating: B
Bottom Line: While this book didn’t live up to my high expectations, it was definitely a good and worth-while read! Castleford is the supreme rake and Daphne is challenge. It was entertaining and enjoyable, an excellent way to round out this fantastic series that I would recommend to any historical romance lover in a heartbeat.
Published: April 26, 2011