Imogen, Lady Maitland, has decided to dance on the wild side. After all, she's in the delicious position of being able to take a lover. A discreet male who knows just when to leave in the morning.
But Lady Maitland is still under the watchful eye of her former guardian, the wildly untamed Rafe, the Duke of Holbrook. He believes she is still in need of a "watchdog." She laughs at the idea that someone so insufferably lazy and devoted to drink can demand that she behave with propriety.
It's Rafe's long-lost brother, a man who looks precisely like the duke but with none of his degenerate edge, who interests Imogen. To Imogen, he's the shadow duke...the man who really should hold the title. But when Imogen agrees to accompany Gabe to a masquerade...whose masked eyes watch her with that intense look of desire? Who exactly is she dancing with? The duke or the shadow duke? Rafe...or Gabe?
Whilst I liked this book, I have to admit that I started reading the book with a pretty fixed idea that I wouldn't love it, based on everything that happened when the book came out.
The basic of the story is that Imogen is widowed, living at the home of the Duke of Holbrook who was her protector (she was his ward so I guess that is what you would call him) prior to her marriage. Imogen sets her mind on having an affair with the Dukes illegitimate brother who also lives there. The brother is not interested, but the Duke is so he meets her in disguise.
The issue that came about when the book was released was...when did Imogen know which brother she was canoodling with. On her website the author has a spoiler trail which is supposed to help us see exactly when Imogen knew that it was the Duke, and she also wrote an extra chapter...but to me it wasn't really clear in the book, and it was kind of icky....she's messing around with one man, and thinking it was the other, until the Duke proposes and she says yes.
The extra chapter on the author's site really helped, but my question is though - should it have been necessary. Surely the book should stand alone without there needing to be additional explanation on the author website?
The other thing was that there was a completely unnecessary epilogue in this one! Why do so many books have them when it really isn't necessary!
I guess the reason why I think that the epilogue was unnecessary is when you read the first chapter of Pleasure for Pleasure (the next book in this series) that she has up as an excerpt on her site, the first scene in that book is Rafe and Imogen's wedding! Why not just do an epilogue for the whole series at the end of Pleasure for Pleasure!
On the whole I enjoy Eloisa James's writing style, but sometimes she does things that are just not quite right. For example, in the next book, it appears as though Josie (so young she is not even out in society yet) ends up with Mayne. It maybe a few years down the track...or it may not be, but it seems to me that there is going to be quite a large difference in ages between the two of them. I guess I probably should not try to second guess but should just wait and see.
As for the characters, I had a bit of baggage as far as Imogen was concerned...I didn't really like her in the other books in the series, and that carried over into this book. Rafe was okay...a bit too easily in my opinion, but that is probably more about me than the writing.
There were some genuine moments of pleasure in this book - the scenes where Rafe and Imogen were sneaking off to the village to see the baudy singer and a play were extremely entertaining! I also liked the secondary romance between Rafe's brother and Gillian, who was engaged to Imogen's first husband before she eloped with him.
Overall, a patchy read. I know that I went in with preconceptions, and I will probably go into the next one with preconceptions as well, but not too bad in the end!