Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Secrets of an Accidental Duchess (Donovan, #2) by Jennifer Haymore

     "If she did not succumb to my charms, Halsley, then rest assured, there's no way in hell she'll succumb to yours." Fenwicke's voice was mild, but the cords in his neck bulged above his cravat. 
     Max shook his head, unable to prevent a sneer from forming on his lips, "You're wrong, Fenwicke."
     Fenwicke's brows rose, his eyes glinted, and a sly expression came over his face. He leaned forward, greedily licking his lips.
     "Would you care to place a wager on that?"

Two men rivals for years...

He thought she should be honored by his indecent proposal. 
He was just after the chase.

One woman who wasn't looking to get involved...

She was bent on never marrying nor trifling with men. She had come to the conclusion marriage just wasn't in the cards, and she'd long ago given up on that dream.

One small wager... 

That would lead to nothing but TROUBLE... Will men never learn? 

Have your eyes ever connected with those of another individual's across a crowded room and you became instantly aware of them? Like some magnetic force caught you in it's grip and you just couldn't look away? That is how it happened with Olivia and Max. No introductions were made. No words were exchanged, but each was instantly made aware of the other and would not soon forget. 

Olivia had been afflicted with Malaria many years ago. While nobody could contract the disease from her, it had driven many potential suitors away. She'd decided to give up any thoughts of marrying and decided to be satisfied with being the doting spinster aunt to her sisters' children. She is smart, sweet, strong willed and the type to tell it like it is in a gentle fashion. She may have a life threatening illness, but she doesn't let it keep her down and attempts to live her life as normally as she can.

Max had a reputation for being a unrepentant rake and had decided never to marry. His father had a temper that Max had seen first hand. He himself occasionally felt a fury building up inside himself and feared it would one day be unleashed. He decided long ago he would never subject another individual to it especially a wife. 

Fenwicke was a married man who thought himself above the rules of society. Being a Marquis with the possibility of one day becoming a Duke he did as he pleased. This time, however, he was about to take that attitude a bit too far.

When Max and Olivia Max finally met, he soon forgot all the wager he'd made with Fenwicke, as he did with so many of their other wagers. The problem was Fenwicke wasn't the type to forget or, for that matter, forgive. Max would soon regret ever having made that wager.

This was a slightly dark story with a sinister villain. The characters were easy to empathize with and like, that is with the exception of one character, namely Fenwicke. There were many tense moments and a lot of drama. The relationship between Max and Olivia was fun to watch as it grew and shifted into something neither expected. Plus, the strong relationship among the sisters was nice to see. I must confess I've grown pretty fond of Captain Langley, so I'm glad that it looks like he'll finally have his happily ever after in the next book.

Where did the book get it's name? I believe from this slightly spoiler filled passage:
"She was going to be a duchess. But that was simply an accidental side-effect of what she was truly going to become, of what she truly wanted: to be Max's wife." 

 I gave this one 4 out 5 roses. On the Lisarenee Romance Rating Scale, this one gets a STEAM rating. Too hot for a fan, but you still have a handle on things. You should use extreme caution when reading a book with this rating in public. People may inquire as to why you looked flustered and flushed.

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