Love takes the stage...
Elise deVries is not what she seems. By night, the actress captivates London theatergoers with her chameleon-like ability to slip inside her characters. By day, she uses her mastery of disguise to work undercover for Chegarre & Associates, an elite agency known for its discreet handling of indelicate scandals. But when Elise is tasked with locating the missing Duke of Ashland, she finds herself center stage in a real-life drama.
Noah Ellery left the glamour of the London aristocracy to pursue a simpler life in the country. He's managed to avoid any complications or entanglements—that is, until he lays eyes on Elise and realizes there's more to this beautiful woman than meets the eye. But when Elise reveals her real identity—and her true feelings for him—the runaway duke must confront the past he left behind . . . to keep the woman he loves forever. ~ Goodreads
Source: ARC provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review
Scandal, intrigue, romance! What’s not to love with this series?
Elise deVries is a partner with her brother Alexander and Ivory Moore (the heroine of book #1, Duke of My Heart) in Chegarre & Associates. A master of disguise, it’s Elise’s job is to discreetly help the elite disentangle from their various scandals. One day she could be a ravishing French socialite – the next a bumbling male Doctor. Her latest assignment is on behalf of Lady Abigail Ellery. Her brother Noah has been missing, and presumed dead, for over 20 years. After their father dies, a cousin tries to take over the family estate, committing Abigail’s mother to Bedlam subjecting her to horrific abuse. To save the family, Elise needs to prove that Noah is alive and bring him home to claim his rightful spot as the Duke of Ashland.
Noah, has no intention of going back home to save anyone – least of all his mother – after their treatment of him as a child. His willpower is shaken after he meets Elise and starts to see that facing his demons might help make him whole again.
I loved how the romance between Elise and Noah played out. This isn’t one of those stories where you *think* the parents were awful but it was some weird misunderstanding and everyone reunites, happily ever after, the end. Noah’s parents were awful and Elise respects Noah’s pain. She does want Noah to go home and free his mother because she thinks the conditions are cruel and because she thinks it will give Noah closure but she never forces him to do anything or diminish his feelings about his past.
This was a really lovely story about two forthright and mature people who struggle to do the right thing vs. what feels safe for their hearts.
The ending was perfect. Elise and Noah get their HEA but not everything with Noah’s family is wrapped up in a tidy bow. And that’s how it should be. Things were very bleak for him – and his story actually gives insight to another recurring character in the series – that I hope gets his own book soon.
I highly recommend any of Bowen’s novels if you’re looking for mature, complex character’s (especially her heroines!) and stories that pack a punch beyond even the romance.