This is the third book in the “Duke’s Men” series, Tristan and Zoe’s book. While a Sabrina Jeffries book is one of my very few romance-genre auto-buys, this one wasn’t my favorite entry in the series.
PLOT: Tristan Bonnaud is the brother of Lisette of What the Duke Desires (reviewed here). He’s the illegitimate son of a viscount who didn’t provide for his “other family” until he was on his deathbed…and then the viscount’s oldest legitimate son immediately burned the codicil, effectively disinheriting his siblings. Tristan “stole” his inheritance anyway, then had to run to France to avoid being hanged as a horse thief. Thanks to his brother-in-law, the duke, Tristan is finally able to return to England and work in his other brother’s detective agency.
Enter Lady Zoe. She’s found out that she may not actually be her parents’ legitimate daughter, but what IS her parentage? Was she bought from gypsies? stolen? abandoned? She enlists Tristan to help her find out the truth, because if her illegitimacy is proved by someone else, she’ll lose her inheritance. If she finds out she’s a gypsy’s daughter, she may have to bite the bullet and marry her cousin to make sure she keeps control of her estate.
So of course, Zoe and Tristan are attracted to each other and develop a love-hate relationship as they try to find out the truth while dodging Tristan’s past.
MY TWO CENTS: While I very much enjoyed the twists and turns of the “mystery” part of the story, I didn’t buy into the romance 100 percent. While I got a definite Han-and-Leia vibe from “the scoundrel and the princess,” I didn’t believe them as much as I should have. Maybe it’s partly because I wasn’t in love with Tristan’s character. His reckless actions as a teenager can be somewhat justified; his adult ones, not so much. Plus, I got really tired of his “rasping” during the love scenes (and I’m noticing the overuse of this word more and more…like once I noticed it, I can’t STOP noticing it).
By the way, my review of the second book in the series, When the Rogue Returns, is reviewed here.
BOTTOM LINE: This is an important volume in the “Duke’s Men” series for furthering the overall story arc, but it wasn’t quite as fulfilling to me as the other books in the series have been. I loved the mystery and the way Tristan and Zoe’s pasts intersected in an unexpected way. And I’m still looking forward to what I presume is the last book in this series. (I won’t give away the title here since it’s a bit of a spoiler, but you can easily find it on Amazon and Goodreads if you wish.)
TEACUP RATING: I’m nitpicking, but it’s still a strong entry in the romance field. Four out of five teacups.
ON SALE DATE: The book will be available in paperback and ebook formats on August 19, 2014.
Note: Review is based on an ARC provided by the publisher via Netgalley/Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.