My Wicked Marquess by Gaelen Foley
When Max, the Marquess of Rotherstone, returns from France after Napoleon's defeat he is determined to find himself a respectable wife. His reputation is in tatters as he is a member of the notorious Inferno Club which is presented to the public as a club for dissolute rakes. What nobody knows is that the Inferno Club is in fact a cover for the The Order, a powerful organization that has spent the last century trying to keep the "Prometheus Council" from taking control of the world. When presented with a list of possible suitors Daphne Starling immediately stands out to him as the Patron Saint of Newcomers. The feeling intensifies when he meets her and finds her beautiful and possessing a quality that draws him to her. He wants to bring that light and happiness into his own life and he knows that only Daphne can prevent the darkness from overtaking him. For her part Daphne is drawn to the dark, mysterious and incredibly handsome Marquess, but does not like the way he attempts to take control of everything; including her.
When Max repeatedly refuses to be completely honest with her she breaks everything off with Max. Since his childhood when his father sold him to the organization, knowing full well that his son could be killed, Max has tremendous issues regarding trust and love, but he realizes that he will have to take a chance with Daphne. When he finally announces his feelings for her she reciprocates and the two get married. Just as things begin looking very favorable for the happy couple, fate intervenes and Daphne discovers that Max has been hiding something from her. She is determined to get the truth from Max and he is equally determined to keep it from her- for her own safety. One Max's fellow Order members, who had been (believed to be) killed by the Prometheans, shows up in London and no one is sure if he has gone rogue or transferred allegiances. This debacle forces Max to make a final choice over where his allegiance truly lies: with the beautiful new wife with whom his future lies or with The Order who held sway over his past.
I have always found the heroine who just magically "draws" the hero to her with her beautiful smile to be rather silly and more than a little unbelievable. Foley manages to pull of this feat admirably well as we get a beautiful inner monologue from Max detailing exactly how he is drawn to Daphne; he sees her as a relief from his dark life and her smile makes him feel like a hero. It was simply amazing to read. I was quite surprised by how drawn into the Promethean/ Order plot I was and while the book does set the reader up for the next book in the series as a romance novel (and boy is that quite a set-up: it's a kidnap plot) I also want to read it to find out where this Promethean/ Drake/ Inferno Club plot goes. The big information dump about the history of the two organizations was a tad overwhelming, not to mention a conspiracy theorists wet dream, but still entirely engrossing. I loved both Daphne and Max. Daphne was genuine and confident in herself and Max was brooding and mysterious (but with quite an adequate reason) and was looking for the woman who could bring happiness back into his life.
I loved her writing style for the most part and she has quite the way with words, but there were definitely times when she was more than a little too descriptive for my tastes. I don't mind it for clothing, but for food and furnishing I was more than a little bored even though I know some people might like that. My other problem was with her interchangeable use of names and titles for Max's friends in The Order to the point where I was left with sometimes little idea with who was being talked about. There were quite a few steamy scenes and although some of them were a little abrupt several of them were incredibly HOT, such as when Daphne takes control and "seduces" her husband, and very emotion drive as the two of them take comfort from each other and the sex is really an expression of the love and trust they feel for each other. There is one occasion where he uses sex to manipulate her feelings, and while it did not bother me overly as she quickly realized what he had been up to, I know others really dislike this romance staple.
Rating: I adored this book and the characters as well as the side plot. My little peeves with the books were minor and did not at all take away from the sheer awesomeness of the book.