Maggie Windham is an illegitimate daughter of the Duke of Moreland, however she has been formally adopted by the Duke and Duchess and so has grown up as part of the large extended Windham family. She has, however, always known that she is different from her brothers and sisters. She is both part of the family and set apart from it by the circumstances of her birth. She knows that, for her, there will be no brilliant marriage match and so she has instead sought to make herself completely independent. In doing so Maggie has shown good intuition when it comes to the making of money and so is independently wealthy.
Benjamin Hazlit is an investigator who has been hired to perform various tasks for Maggie's family. He too knows what it is like to be both part of and apart from his family and in this aspect, he and Maggie are a good match! Another reason for this is because Benjamin is a man with big secrets of his own, and Maggie has been hiding a very big secret from her family for years.
Maggie hires the investigator after her reticule goes missing from her house and Maggie is terrified that the wrong people may get hold of it. She must do anything she can to avoid more scandal for her family. To be honest, I found this a flimsy pretext to start the story on and thought that the mystery of what exactly was in the reticule was unravelled far too slowly. Once the big secret is revealed, I understood why Maggie was scared but it took way too long to get to that point.
Benjamin is determined to give Maggie some relief from her self inflicted isolation and so he slowly and surely begins to seduce her, but along the way he also begins to understand that he must open himself up to his loved ones as well. One of the things that I appreciate about Burrowes' writing is that she does do the slow, intense build up between her couples so well. Page by page, moment by moment the tension builds.
While I liked Benjamin a lot, I did wonder about the practicalities of his super-secret identity. I just don't see how he could have kept his secret for as long as he did without drawing attention to himself. This is just one example of where Burrowes' stretches the bounds of historical accuracy within her books. To be honest, I go into her books expecting historical accuracy to be one of the casualties, but the way she builds the characters and tension make up for that. In my review for the previous book in this series I said "There is no one else that I am reading in historical romance at the moment that has that kind of mellow tempo and fluidity that Grace Burrowes has in her books whilst still having sizzling chemistry between the characters." Aside from the issue that I am quoting myself... I would still stand by this exact sentiment!
The bad guys were very bad and as such a bit two dimensional, and to be honest the resolution of the suspense sub plot was a bit flat too. It turns out that one or two decent conversations with the duke and duchess could have completely changed everything in relation to this story, but Maggie is so darned busy being a martyr in trying to protect those around her that she can't see the forest for the trees.
Where the characterisations are much better is in the secondary characters. Benjamin's business partner, and heir, is his cousin Archer and the scenes featuring the two of them were filled with fun banter and definitely helped draw a fuller picture of the man that Benjamin really is. The Duke and Duchess are also a real treat to read. I wasn't all that fond of the Duke in the first couple of books that he appeared in, but now I almost anticipate the next scene that the two of them will appear in!
Like the other books I have read by Burrowes, there are both positives and negatives. Regardless, I will be looking forward to when the next book in the Duke's Daughters series comes out. Lady Louisa's Christmas Knight is due out in October!
Maggie Windham, oldest of the Windham sisters and a by-blow from His Grace’s pre-marital wild oats, finds herself in desperate needs of an investigator to help her retrieve a missing reticule. Benjamin Hazlit knows the Windham family secrets, and can be trusted to keep them to himself, so Maggie turns to Benjamin, though it means ignoring his too-broad shoulders, his too-knowing smile… and his too-skilled kisses. As Benjamin starts the search for Maggie’s missing purse, he realizes two things: First, whatever was in that purse, its loss has Maggie not just rattled, but terrified. Second, Benjamin will go to any lengths to see Maggie’s peace of mind restored, even if it means he must keep himself in very close proximity to the shy, secretive lady who says she wants nothing to do with him.Thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for the review copy I read.