If the Viscount Falls (Duke’s Men #4) by Sabrina Jeffries

First of all, thank you to all my readers for your support in 2014! I’m looking forward to all the new books already on my “to read” list for 2015!

What makes this final entry in the Duke’s Men series rock? The heroine, Jane. Thank you, Sabrina Jeffries, for writing an intelligent, non-dishrag of a heroine for modern readers to enjoy.

If the Viscount Falls Front Cover (Pocket Books/Simon & Schuster)

If the Viscount Falls Front Cover (Pocket Books/Simon & Schuster)

SPOILER WARNING: This review will contain spoilers for the other “Duke’s Men” novels, previously reviewed at the following links: What the Duke Desires, When the Rogue Returns, and How the Scoundrel Seduces.

THE PLOT: When Dominick Manton was disinherited by his evil brother, George, for siding with his illegitimate siblings,  he lost everything except his young fiance. Dom didn’t want Jane to marry him anyway and live in poverty and uncertainly, but Jane, firmly in love with Dom, refused to break the engagement. That’s when Dom decided to do what was best for Jane (in his high-and-mighty male opinion) and set up Jane to find him mauling her own cousin, Nancy, at a party. The trick worked, except he DIDN’T plan for George to marry Nancy.

Now, George is dead, and Dom is finally restored as the viscount, but Jane is engaged to someone else. However, she asks for Dom’s help as a private detective in finding the widowed Nancy, who has disappeared. The reader knows that these shenanigans are a setup to a reunion, but the mystery of what’s happening with Nancy is deeper than one would think.

MY TWO CENTS: There are a few things I loved about this book. As previously, mentioned, topping that list is Jane’s character. She’s known for years that Dom set up the trick with Nancy to get Jane to end their engagement. This isn’t a case of, “If she knew the truth, everything would be fixed.” It’s more that she’s angry at him for being high-handed enough to choose her future for her…but she doesn’t let on at first. She lets him twist in the wind to see how long it will take him to admit the truth to her. She even refers to him as “Dom the Almighty,” but Dom is so clueless that he doesn’t get it at first. He’s a guy who’s smart about everything except women.

The storyline seems obvious, but it really isn’t. It doesn’t take the reader long to figure out Nancy is pregnant, which could effectively disinherit Dom and put him back to square one. But there are other factors here. What is really going on? If Nancy IS pregnant, is the baby George’s? Who would even want to disinherit Dom,and how far would that person go?

BOTTOM LINE: Feminists who enjoy a good romance with sizzling love scenes and a twisty mystery will eat this book up. Also, I’m always glad that Sabrina Jeffries connects all her series. Even the the “Duke’s Men” series is ended, it will transition to the new series, the “Sinful Suitors” series, using characters we’ve already met…namely, Jeremy Keane from How the Scoundrel Seduces and Yvette Barlow, who we meet in this book.

TEACUP RATING: Between four-and-a-half and five out of five teacups.

ON SALE DATE: The book will be on sale in paperback and eformats on January 27, 2015.

Note: Review is based on an ARC provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

What the Duke Desires by Sabrina Jeffries

What the Duke Desires Front Cover

What the Duke Desires Front Cover (Pocket Books, Simon & Schuster)

I’ve been trying to get really tough when grading romance novels on other sites; it’s got to be a really special book to get a full five-star rating…but I think this book pulls it.

This new series, “The Duke’s Men,” is loosely linked to Jeffries’s other series; for example, there are some references to Jackson Pinter from the “Hellions of Halstead Hall” series. So you know it’s set in the same world as “School for Heiresses” and the “Royal Brotherhood” series. This first book starts off with a dastardly villain that you really loathe right off the bat.

THE PLOT: When Viscount Rathmore dies, his heir, George, burns his father’s hastily written will, thus cutting off his father’s illegitimate children. George’s legitimate younger brother, Dominick, sides with their half-brother Tristan and half-sister Lisette, so George disowns him as well. Tristan steals the valuable horse his father intended to leave to him, making himself a fugitive from the law…and from a vengeful George.

I’m sure this story will play out through the entire series. Despite some resolution at the end of this book, there is still the question of why George hated his siblings enough to disown them to begin with.

MY TWO CENTS: Lisette is the female lead of this book, and she’s a breath of fresh air. Being both half-French and illegitimate frees her from the social conventions that usually confine romance heroines. The male protagonist is Maximilian Cale, the Duke of Lyons. He’s awfully angsty for a duke, which is also fun. The two meet when Max receives a note from Tristan claiming to have found Max’s presumed-dead older brother…who would then be the actual duke. But now Tristan has disappeared. Max wants to know the truth, and Lisette wants adventure as well as to find her brother, so they pose as a married couple to travel together looking for the missing Tristan and Max’s brother Peter.

I won’t give anything away, but I will say that toward the end of the novel, Max says something so horrific that I gasped and smacked my head. Then, later, he was so awesome that I was smiling like a loon. Characters who elicit real responses are the ones you tend to remember.

BOTTOM LINE: I wish I’d bought this one in paperback instead of Kindle, and I may still pick it up in that format. This is the kind of book I want to reread, hold in my hands, and keep in a physical format.

TEACUP RATING: A rare full five teacups. Enjoy with sweet tea and some smooth, rich chocolate.

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