For the first time ever on this blog, I’m reviewing a book by one of my favorite authors, Madeline Hunter! This is the first book in her brand-new series, “The Decadent Dukes Society,” about heirs to dukedoms who became friends.
THE PLOT: Adam Penrose, Duke of Stratton, has returned to London after a long stay in France with his French mother. He exiled himself when his father killed himself in disgrace for reasons that aren’t entirely clear to Adam. He’s made a name for himself dueling over insults in France, and now he’s returned to London to find out the truth. But first, the family with whom his has a longstanding feud is eager to make peace.
The Cheswicks and Penroses had previously argued over ownership of some land, but there may also be some other skeletons in the family closets. To end the feud and avoid Adam’s challenging her grandson, the head of the Cheswick family, the Dowager Countess of Marwood, suggests that Adam marry her granddaughter. The girl offered to him is only 16 and therefore not of interest, but Adam is interested in the oldest Cheswick, 24-year-old Clara, whom her brother dubs a shrew.
Clara’s father allowed her to avoid marriage and granted her some degree of independence along with her inheritance. Adam pursues her, but Clara really isn’t interested in marriage. She’s too involved in publishing a lady’s journal and doesn’t need a man trying to control her. But her attraction to Adam leads to an affair, and then love. Will they ever really be happy if they don’t find out the truth about their families’ true history?
MY TWO CENTS: Madeline Hunter’s writing style has made her one of my favorite authors since I first read By Arrangement, still one of my very favorite romances of all time. (In fact, it may be time for another reread.) I slightly preferred her medievals to her regencies, but I’m very likely to enjoy anything she’s written.
Like the introductory novels in her other series, This one sets up characters we’ll be following in subsequent books. Three friends who are all dukes and have distinctly different personalities are introduced. This book’s hero, Adam, is all about revenge and learning the truth about what brought about his father’ death. Langford is the playboy, while Brentworth seems serious and reliable (but I’m betting still waters run deep there).
To be honest, I was much more interested in the truth of the mystery than the romance. The romance was fine, but will be familiar to Hunter’s regular readers; she’s done the “family history” thing before. But this one has a few unexpected twists that make it well worth the read.
COVER NOTES: Love the color scheme and the beautiful dress….which covers the model! Nice! Between this and the Mary Jo Putney books, Kensington is hitting it out of the park with their “heroine in a historically appropriate dress” covers.
BOTTOM LINE: I love Madeline Hunter’s writing, and the family drama and mystery provide an added component to the romance.
TEACUP RATING: Four out of five teacups.
ON SALE DATE: Available now in paperback and eformats.
NEXT UP IN SERIES: The next book in the series, A Devil of a Duke, will release next year and focus on Adam’s friend Langford.
Note: Review is based on ARCs provided by the publisher via Netgalley and Amazon Vine in exchange for an honest review.