Series: Rules for the Reckless #2
Published by Pocket Books on March 25, 2014
Genres: Historical Romance
Running for her life, exhausted and out of options, Olivia Holladay wants nothing more than the chance to make a home for herself. So when she realizes that the infamous Duke of Marwick might hold the key to her freedom, she boldly disguises herself as the newest and bravest in a long line of the duke’s notoriously temperamental housekeepers. Little does she know that the wickedly handsome Alastair de Grey has very different plans for her. . . .
As his new employee, Olivia is a fearless upstart. As a woman, the daring redhead is just what Alastair needs to rouse him from darkness to the siren call of revenge. He has suffered a betrayal so deep that he will use whatever means necessary to destroy his enemies—even his brazen and beautiful domestic. But his vengeful plan fails to account for his single weakness: an irresistible and growing passion for the enigmatic Olivia.
This book was…different. I enjoyed the premise – a young woman enters an estranged nobleman’s house posing as a housekeeper in order to steal certain papers of importance. It’s been done before, but Olivia’s stubborn refusal to back down in the face of Alastair’s angry outbursts coupled with her quick wrangling of the house’s unruly servants made for a somewhat entertaining dynamic.
Olivia is a very matter-of-fact, tell-it-like-it-is kind of woman. Smart, intelligent, and resilient, she has faced her share of painful obstacles and it has only served to make her a stronger person. Alastair is lost in the bitter memories of a failed and duplicitous marriage. He is perceptive, but battling a deep depression after the humiliation he suffered from his former, dead wife. Alastair has withdrawn from society, but Olivia desperately needs some of the papers hidden deep within the recesses of Alastair’s bedchamber. In order to get those papers, she must first convince Alastair to leave his rooms.
All of the elements to a good story are present – a hero and heroine with conflicting goals, a dash of mystery and suspense, sassy banter between the couple – but I just felt like something was missing. While I grew to like Olivia’s character, I did not like Alastair. I found him to be too brooding and that he was too possessive to Olivia as a person. He spoke of “mastering” her at one point, which really turned me further away from his character. Now, I enjoy good BDSM erotica novels, but this was being passed off as a straight romance book which meant that those characteristics of Alastair’s character came off as chauvinistic and unhealthy. I also didn’t believe Olivia and Alastair were actually falling in love. For me, it seemed to come from nowhere and just be an accepted part of the story. Where was the romantic and sensual buildup? Not in this book, that’s for sure. And as for the main mystery part of the novel, I felt the solution was too obvious; I correctly guessed the solution by the halfway point of the book, so by the time the characters figured it out I was frustrated that it took them so long to understand what was happening. Finally, the redemption of the villain felt flat and forced, as if only to serve as a means to wrap up the book.
Overall, a different sort of love story, but one I won’t be picking up again. I did, however, love Ms. Duran’s use of imagery and language, so I will try another of her books from a different series.