This book is why I love reading historical novels. I've said this before about Manda Collin’s Ugly Duckling series, but it’s worth repeating. The author manages to create characters that charm you from the moment you meet them. She also provides a suspenseful storyline that is entertaining and keeps you guessing. Of the three books in the trilogy (and the three cousins) I think Lady Madeline Essex (Maddie) is my favorite. I enjoyed every moment of her interaction with the Earl of Gresham (Christian) and how tenacious she was when it came to making sure her brother, Viscount Linton, came to no harm.
The mystery about who was trying to murder Viscount Linton and his friends had me guessing about who the culprit was right up until the end, but it was the relationship between Maddie and Christian that had me hooked. I loved how Christian gave Maddie the space to do what she felt she needed to, instead of making her feel like he knew best because he was the man. And Maddie was able to give Christian a place where he could always be himself, vulnerable and emotional, without feeling like he was less than a person.
I’m sad to see the series come to a close, but I look forward to more from Manda Collins in the future.
Lady Madeline Essex stumbles upon a murder while researching a gaming hell for one of her novels. She soon finds herself in the middle of a Home Office investigation, led by none other than The Earl of Gresham, Christian Monteith. But when that investigation leads to allegations towards her brother, Maddie will stop at nothing to prove her brother’s innocence. It’s up to Christian to help her clear her brother’s name, along with protecting Maddie, all while he deals with his feelings for the strong headed woman.
Lady Madeline Essex is the last of the unwed “ducklings” in her family—and by far the most outspoken. But when she boldly enters London’s most notorious gaming house in search of fodder for her novel, even her sharp tongue can’t save her from the horrible crime she stumbles upon there. As luck would have it, first on the scene is the last man she wants to see her vulnerable. The one man who could tempt her heart…
Christian Monteith, the new Earl of Gresham, isn’t much for card rooms and gaming hells. But as a favor to his former commanding officer, he's investigating a gamester for espionage on the night that Maddie ventures in looking more enticing than he's ever seen her. Suddenly, his feelings for his friend aren't so friendly anymore. And when her curiosity brings the impetuous novelist to the attention of a madman, Christian will stop at nothing to protect her—from a sinister plot that is far more dangerous than any stolen kiss…