Yet when a titian-haired minx perches upon his ducal desk and claims to know the whereabouts of his one burning obsession, a game of wits and passion erupts...
Miss Evelyn Pearce possesses naught but a frail young sister and an ebony-black cat. Left destitute by her baronet father's spendthrift ways, fate and talent hand her the opportunity to seek escape from the dangerous alleys of London town.
The cold Duke of Diamonds holds the key, and all Evelyn must do is resist his not-so-cold kiss...
A passion forged on secrets can never be satisfied, but as guises fall and plots unravel, will the duke's controlled façade shatter to reveal his searching heart within?
Comment: I got aware of this book early this year, probably because the blurb inferred the romance would feature a down-on-her-luck heroine and a duke, and how could this trope not be catnip for me... but sadly, the overall experience wasn't such a great one.
In this book we meet heroine Evelyn, who is trying to meet ends meet after her father lost everything in bad decisions. Now, alone with a frail younger sister, they live in a bad neighborhood and work as best as possible to pay bills. However, Evelyn has unknowingly made a bad deal and things are very dire. Her only apparent option is to sell a painting by her father to the duke of Rothwell, someone she knows will buy it for certain. The problem is that the painting isn't done, even though Evelyn knows she can do it herself... But the duke is known for his cold, decisive posture and lack of frivolous pastimes, so she feels he might be quite the adversary if he discovers her deceit. But when the two meet, is Evelyn prepared to fight the attraction that they share?
It really felt as if this book was created for me, for it has many elements I like in romances. Still, I must say it wasn't as great to read as I hoped, because although the writing isn't bad, it still didn't wow me nor made me truly eager to know what would happen next...something about the characters or the development itself just felt off, not captivating enough to win me over. I read and finished it but I wasn't dazzled.
The plot is pretty simple, if not a bit difficult to accept...well, not as much for the idea itself (someone struggling wanting to deceive someone wealthy for survival reasons) but because of the way the main characters meet and how bold the heroine is in that moment. Evelyn decides to act as someone without social constrictions and while I see how need made her do something her personality might not be in par with, I still thought her visit to the duke just like that to be a little too much.
From then on, the story becomes a bit predictable in ho things would progress but I thought it would be interesting to see how two different people, and now even more so in opposite sides of the social scene, would find a way to spend time together so they could find things in common which would allow their feelings and relationship to evolve. Although this is described, I found no connection with what was happening and as I was reading, I kept thinking that the words were there but the spark wasn't.
I conclude the author just doesn't have a style that strikes my interest or my willingness to carry on. It's another case of things being good enough but just not special enough for me, personally. I bet on this being a solid romance but I think that despite all the facts and descriptions being there, the connection was just off. I struggled to feel Evelyn and the duke were truly changing their feelings and emotions to being in love with one another. Something about the writing wasn't too smooth.
Evelyn is an intriguing character because she did show resourcefulness in the face of adversity. I liked her immediately but found her choices of action to be a little silly and exaggerated by the author. I think a more socially accepted meeting or way these two could find to spend time together would make room for a closer relationship and for the reader to see it as something inevitable. Evelyn is clever and a good heroine but I don't think all her scenes were well chosen by the author.
The hero seemed to be a bit more layered in his construction, in the sense he was a rigid man but those around him described him as someone different and it was nice to have a contrast to think of. I kind of wish the cast of characters surrounding the duke had been more appealing yet, perhaps that way it would feel he was gaining much more by meeting the heroine, by having such different types of interactions. In the end, he was fascinating but the plot's development didn't feel as if it was too kind on how his personality could have shined.