Every night Spencer Dumarque, the Duke of Morland, has the ton in an uproar as every night he shows up at the most popular ball at midnight and asks one lucky lady for one dance set. One night he shows up right after Lady Amelia d'Orsay discovers that her younger brother Jack is once again in on the brink of bankruptcy. She marches across the ballroom and coerces him into asking him to dance and throws his world into chaos. When his old fear of crowds returns he hauls her outside where he is confronted by two of the other gentlemen who are members of "The Stud Club" who inform him that the other member, Leo, has been murdered. Amelia goes with them to tell Leo's sister, Lily, and before the night is over he has decided they must marry as rumors will no doubt have begun about their hasty exit from the ball. He is desperately attracted to her buxom good looks, but she is worried it will be all to easy to lose her heart.
To protect herself she tells him that she won't sleep with him until his innocence in Leo's death has been proven and so he wastes no time trying to do so. The two have a lot of time together during their marriage and he admires her love for her family and the way she puts others happiness above hers. And she is shocked to discover that his obsession with gaining Osiris, a famous horse, is actually because he wants the horse to keep company with his favorite mare in her old age; he is a closet romantic! When the two finally do manage to sleep together it brings them even closer and it is both know they are falling in love. But things threaten to come tumbling down Jack shows up wanting more money and Spencer can't stand that she has more love for her brother than she does for her. It is not in her nature to give up on her brother but she knows she wants the happiness and love she can find only with Spencer.
Dare is simply amazing at writing complex and interesting characters and she completely lives up to expectations here. I absolutely loved everything about both Spencer and Amelia and it was made so much better because they were perfect for each other. Amelia had to go through some immense issues during this book and her emotions were realistically all over the place as she got married and dealt with cutting loose her brother. While sometimes I would be a little wary of a heroine who was so intent on providing for other people's happiness it was done very well here and really made Amelia so great. It also worked because Spencer wanted to make her happy and seeing him undergo some massive changes because of having her in his life. The hidden depths that Dare built into his character were understated and important yet did not come across as flighty and out of character.
These two together were great as well and that is besides the very obvious and well done physical attraction between them. I liked that Amelia was a larger woman and that Spencer was completely smitten with this and this made for some steaming hot scenes between these two. The scenes I liked the best where were he was making changes in his life to make her happy by going out in crowds and how she worked so hard to make him comfortable in these situations where he felt uncomfortable. There was some great moments involving Jack the wastrel and Amelia learning to grab happiness for herself as well as some involving Claudia, Spencer's ward and him learning to put people above his horses. I will admit the "Stud Club" business and all the rules accompanying it were more than a little ridiculous, but I do look forward to reading the resolution of Leo's murder.
Rating: Absolutely wonderful book with amazing characters that had a truly great relationship and romantic development.