Mastered By Love
Avon, Aug 2009, $7.99
In 1816 the Duke of Varisey, Royce heads home, knowing he paid a high price for his work for the Crown. Sixteen years ago, his father disowned him for dishonorable behavior as a duke’s heir should never be involved in espionage. He hoped to reconcile, but his father just died before they could; his mother died a few years ago.
At Wolverstone Castle, Royce meets his chatelaine Minerva Chesterone, who was a young orphan his parents brought into the household. They are attracted to one another, but both hide the unwelcome feelings. Minerva swore twice to both his parents on their respective death beds that she would help their son become the duke. She also understands Royce must wed soon and once he does she will leave the castle she has called home for over two decades.
His three sisters and their husbands arrive as do the rest of the family for the late duke’s funeral; the Grand Dames attend too and warn Royce to marry soonest as Prinny is planning something. Royce is irate as he put his life on hold to protect the crown yet ironically the crown wants to take away his heritage. He talks about tenant farms with Minerva and asks her to draw up a list of possible wives while his Bastian Club friends and their wives also arrive. However, the only woman to excite him is the one not on Minerva’s list.
The romance between the lead couple is fun to follow while the Ton’s intervention enhances the tale. The lead male is too similar to the other Bastian Club members, but Stephanie Laurens cleverly defuses that by having the wives state so during their strategic meeting. Although the Last Traitor subplot is minor though built up through several books, fans will enjoy the return of a hero who gave everything to the Crown only to come home to learn that his sacrifice is yesterday’s news.