Friday, May 6, 2011
Dangerous in Diamonds
The Duke of Castleford is notorious for his whoring, his drinking, and his dissolute ways, which is why he is shocked when his pious cousin, the Duke of Becksbridge, leaves him several properties around England to manage. Shocked by this turn of events he decides to take a tour of his latest acquisition, a delightful plot of land the current tenant has named "The Rarest Blooms." Castleford has his own connections to The Rarest Blooms as his closest friends have all married women who spent time there as the place is a haven for women who need to get away from something or someone. He is charmed by the beautiful and proper Daphne Joyes, the widow who runs a flower business on the property and he decides that he will seduce her and enlists the help of his friends in figuring out how to do so. Daphne has enjoyed her life of privacy in the country where no questions are asked and she uses her widowhood as a shield. Castleford represents everything she dislikes; a dissolute rake with no cares except for himself and no sense of responsibility and she is determined that his blatant attempts at seduction will come to naught even while she can't help but admit that he does hold a certain attraction.
He makes it clear that he intends to seduce her and after a few stolen kisses, Daphne must admit that she is finding staying away from the duke very hard. He uses his ownership of the land she uses as an excuse to get her to come to London, where she stays in their mutual friends' house. He sends a team of men onto the land to look into anything that might be of value, such as minerals or gold and word quickly spreads around town that Castleford may be coming into even more money. Daphne is not happy with this turn of events and fears that he will take the land she has lived on for years, but she is surprised to learn that they have a mutual dislike of the Latham, the newly appointed Duke of Becksbridge. Meanwhile there is an uprising going on up North that Latham is involved in and stirring up trouble that could mean many deaths and Daphne and Castleford can work together to try to put a stop to his machinations. There is a lot to sort out from both their pasts, and a lot of fears to overcome, but together they make an excellent pair.
I have really enjoyed Hunter's previous books in the Rarest Blooms series because of the strong characters and well done plots and throughout all of them I have read about the Duke of Castleford and found myself on pins and needles waiting for when he would finally find the woman for him. He has certainly been portrayed as irredeemable and I knew it was going to take a lot of work for him to become a real romance novel hero. His change was slow and happened so slowly that it was rather difficult to see and while I found this to be more realistic I kind of wanted a honest-to-goodness "aha" moment where he realized he needed to change his ways. I did appreciate that he was changing for her in such drastic ways, even if at first it was only to sleep with her and it took awhile for love to enter the picture. He was a good guy in the book and he ended up doing the right, or correct, thing in the end, but I wish he had been more honest with everyone and straightforward. Daphne was a little bland after the badness of Castleford and I wanted her to be equally human and make mistakes and not always be so "perfect."
Their relationship was awkward to me because he just loved to get her ire up and see her color rise- weird to me. I was at least hoping that the sex between them would be good, especially considering Castleford's past, but it was rather lukewarm and there was nowhere near as much as I had been expecting. This book began to drag about halfway through when the focus moved away from him trying to seduce her. That was really held the book together and unfortunately Hunter, had made that the entire book and once it was over, the book really lost my interest for the most part. The plot about the workers in the North also did not hold my interest, which was surprising as I normally like historical tidbits thrown in and I'm almost always up for a little class "warfare." This one really did not do this for me and it slowed down the pace of the book and really lacked any genuine link to the relationship between Castleford and Daphne.
Rating: A book with tremendous potential that did not live up to my expectations regarding the hero and the relationship and dragged by the middle of the book.