Type: Historical Romance
My Copy: Net Galley
Lady Marisa Hawkstone’s nightmare is just beginning when she wakes up naked, with no memory of the night before, lying next to Maitland Spencer, the Duke of Lyttleton—a man so aloof and rational, he’s nicknamed “the Cold Duke.” A scandal ensues, in which Marisa’s beloved beau deserts her. As a compromised woman, Marisa agrees to marry Maitland. But on her wedding night, Marisa discovers the one place the duke shows emotion: in the bedroom, where the man positively scorches the sheets.
Taught from a young age to take duty seriously, Maitland cannot understand his new wife’s demands on his love and affection. Marisa’s hot-blooded spirit, however, does have its attractions—especially at night. In retrospect, it seems quite silly that he didn’t marry sooner. But being one of the Libertine Scholars requires constant vigilance, even more so when the enemy with a grudge against his closest friends targets Marisa. Now Maitland must save the woman who sets his heart aflame—or die trying.
I have enjoyed this series from the beginning. The continuous story arc about the mysterious women set to destroy the Libertine Scholars is intriguing and has me wanting to know more about these men and the women who captivate them. As with many series, there is a connection between the books and many characters come and go, but this can easily be read as a standalone, the author updates new and old readers seamlessly.
Maitland Spencer is the Duke of Lyttleton, also known as The Cold Duke. He has always struggled with social niceties; he had a hard life growing up with an uncaring father who later turned out to be a madman. His saving grace was being sent to school where he met five other young men and together they were called the Libertine Scholars; they became great friends and were known for their brilliance and their way with the ladies.
Marisa is Sebastian’s sister (one of the Libertine Scholars), she believes she will be engaged soon to Lord Rutherford and is enjoying the latest ball. However, the next morning she does not remember the end of the night and is surprised to wake up naked in a strange room, wrapped around a warm man, a man who just so happens to be Maitland. He also is confused by their circumstances but believes they have been compromised by an insane woman known as De Palma (Fleur de Lily) who is intent on destroying the six men; she has been hounding them for several years, slowly chipping away at each one until she accomplishes what she wants. She is making them pay for their father’s sins of which they knew nothing about, but are slowly gaining clues.
Well done Ms. Evans, again I am fascinated with the Libertine Scholars and what will happen in the end, but along the way the stories are well written and continue to keep me interested with romance, exciting plots and engaging character development, not to mention the amazing sex scenes.
Marisa was slow to grow on me, she was just the sister of Sebastian, nothing that stood out about her, but I liked her more as she came into her own voice. She was determined to make Maitland feel, and was the one who pushed the sexual part of their marriage and worked her way into his heart. I like Maitland, he had to overcome some huge hurtles by the time the end of the book came around, his upbringing really did a number on him and if it was not for his friends he would have been lost. The two together are explosive and their scenes sizzle, they definitely have chemistry.
There is a lot uncovered in this book, it is a bit darker than the others and we are getting closer to finding out what happened all those years ago that sent this woman into her deranged revenge. The pace is fast; I had no trouble racing through the book as I wanted to find out more information. There are some twists and turns along with much sadness toward the end but I like how Maitland and Marissa came through it. I am very invested in this series and look forward to the next two books to see how this all concludes, but even if you have not read the others, this is definitely an enjoyable read if you like danger, the darker side of London and an incredible romance.
I give A Whisper of Desire by Bronwen Evans 4 stars!