Lillian Kane took up as the mistress of Dillon Beaumont, future Duke of Greayston, in order to escape her father. Her mother was already pregnant when she married Lord Kane an he has has always been after her money. She does not inherit until she turns 24 and her friend Dillon offered her the position as mistress so that he can play the ladies man in front of the ton and she can reinvent herself as a society darling even if she is ruined. But Kane wants her money badly and he enlists the help of Dillon's brother Russell who is desperately in love with Lillian. Kane frames Dillon for the murder of the lady he himself had been having an affair with and the evidence is indeed damning. Desperate, she engages the help of Nicholas Redford who she briefly met at a ton party and he has since opened up his own investigative services.
Nicholas is reluctant to become involved because he thinks Dillon is guilty but then Lillian proves that Dillon would never be having an affair with a woman. She ties him up and seduces him and he discovers she is a virgin before she reveals that Dillon is a homosexual. Suddenly Nick wants to bring an innocent man justice and it does not hurt that he gets to spend more time with the beautiful and intriguing Lillian. Kane and Russell begin to get scared that their scheme will be discovered and take things to another level by threatening Lillian and Nick. Suddenly Nick is on a desperate bid to discover who is behind the scheme and send the right man to jail so that he can protect the woman he is coming to love. The difference in their social standing leaves both worried that when everything is resolved the other will leave them, but they each have one last trick up their sleeve to stay together.
I was hesitant to read this after the disaster of The Governess Wears Scarlet but I decided that everyone deserves a second chance. While this was certainly better and showed promise that Robins can deliver a palatable romance, it was by no means a home run. I absolutely loved the evil stepfather plot and how she had to pretend to be someone's mistress in order to escape him. And I would have preferred if it had been a real relationship but it was just as good that the book had a homosexual character who genuinely great and kind without being flamboyant. Nick was enjoyable as well as the orphan who was working to make something of himself and liked working. What made it great though was that the difference in their social standing was there and talked about, but it was not a major issue- they were in love and they didn't really harp on not being good enough for the other.
The murder and framing plot was also very interesting and as usual I enjoyed having an inside look into the bad guys minds, even if it was brief. It was well done and kept me reading just so I could see how Nicholas would manage to discover who the bad guys were and set Dillon free. I also liked that this plot had some family betrayal and drama and at least one nuanced villain. There were things that brought this book down though. There were a couple rather weird side plots that I could not get into such as his becoming the queen's lead investigator and helping her find her dog. The sex between them was very rare and the first one wasn't even completed and there wasn't even a decent amount of steam between the two of them. The secondary characters beside the villains, grated on my nerves and I felt like the book dragged in many areas.
Rating: This book did had a lot going for it but I certainly enjoyed parts of it but there were too many little things that added up that I couldn't really appreciate the book.