My Wicked Marquess
Avon, Jun 30 2009, $7.99
In 1815, following his Grand Tour, Lord Max St. Albans needs to pick a wife. His solicitor gives him a list of five eligible ladies with four meeting his stipulation of no scandal as he tries to improve the family name. The fifth Daphne Starling excites him because she jilted his childhood enemy Albert Carew, who has spread scandalous gossip about her. Max follows Daphne into the dangerous Rookery where she visits an orphanage. When some locals accost her, Max coming out of a hooker’s joint acts like a drunk to divert them. She reluctantly leaves but stops to inform the constable. Max beats up the thugs.
Max knows Daphne will not do as his wife; as his image as a member of the decadent Inferno Club makes him need a respectable miss. However, he liked her grit and her caring about others. He needs to patch things up with her because she believes he was whoring when he was just observing her activity. At the ball, Daphne stops dancing with her friend Jono White when she notices Max staring at her. He knows she is the one for him when Albert and his odious brothers assault her. Max intercedes and warns Albert to stop the gossip.
Max’s mentor Virgil informs him two of his Inferno Club Order comrades made it back after defeating their enemies the Prometheus Club, who backed Napoleon; but millions were lost at the stock markets and one team led by Drake was killed in Bavaria. He tells his friends he will marry Daphne, but has his work cut out to balance his undercover role with his pursuit of her.
The romance between the lead couple is exciting as the readers ironically know his secret while his wife does not. Although no overarching prime subplot is resolved, Regency fans will enjoy the current battle between the Inferno Club vs. the Prometheans in a centuries-old war; which also establishes future novels.