This is the first Miranda Neville novel I’ve ever read. What drew me to this particular book? I admit it…it was the cover. All that gothic black and lace and fashion styles gave me a very “Phantom of the Opera” vibe. What dark depravity did this duke get up to? Does he make women wearing opulent dressing gowns sing in watery underground tunnels in the middle of the night?
All joking aside, I enjoyed this story, and I guess I’m going to have to check out more of Neville’s books—especially those in the “Wild Quartet series.” (I’m very intrigued by this “Caro” person.)
THE PLOT: Jeanne de Falleron was the daughter of a French noble. She survived the Revolution by taking on the disguise of Jane Grey, governess. Her family wasn’t so lucky. They were all guillotined after being betrayed by a Mr. Fortescue, who accepted the family’s collection of masterpiece paintings in exchange for the family’s safe passage to England. Revenge is the force that drives Jane. Her only goal is to track down Mr. Fortescue and kill him. But she doesn’t know what “Mr. Fortescue” looked like, only that he was young. She figures she’ll start her search with the main branch of the family.
Julian Fortescue never thought his obscure claim to a title would result in his becoming the Duke of Denford, but that is the position he finds himself in. Then his mother drops her brood of Julian’s half-sisters into his lap while she and her new husband take off for America. Julian would much rather concentrate on moving his collection of priceless paintings from Belgium than raise three young girls, so his first step is finding them a governess…especially an attractive one who might double as his mistress.
Jane accepts the position of the girls’ governess as a cover while hunting through the Fortescue family tree to find her family’s betrayer. She doesn’t want to fall in love with Julian, because she fully expects to be on the run or hanged after killing her target. She never seriously considers that the person she’s after could be the duke himself.
MY TWO CENTS: I’m such a sucker for stories that deal with the aftermath of the French Revolution. I don’t know why; maybe it gives me comfort to know that some people actually did survive, even in horrible circumstances like Jane’s. (Even if I’m reading about fictional people.) We all know that romances usually (always?) have a happy ending, but I felt a great deal of tension throughout this plot. When would Julian find out that Jane was actually a survivor of the family he feels so guilty about? When would Jane find out that Julian was the one who was supposed to get her family out of France to safety? Even if Julian isn’t the real betrayer, won’t Jane’s past as mistress to two French revolutionaries prevent her from becoming a duchess? What about the paintings?
BOTTOM LINE: I really enjoyed the various twists and turns of the plot. I have to admit, I felt that Jane had much darker desires than the duke. He wanted uncomplicated sex; she wanted uncomplicated sex AND murderous revenge!
TEACUP RATING: Between four and four-and-a-half out of five teacups. Like I said, I’ll definitely be checking out more Miranda Neville.
ON SALE DATE: December 30, 2014.
Note: Review is based on an ARC provided by the publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.