Tuesday, February 7, 2012

To Dare the Duke of Dangerfield by Bronwen Evans

Lady Caitlin Southall can not believe that her home, her mothers home which is being held in a trust for her, was lost in a card game.  She becomes even more frustrated when she learns the most notorious rake and her neighbor, Harlow Telford, Duke of Dangerfield is the one that won her home and will not return it like a gentleman when he learns of her situation.  Oh no.  Caitlin's temper gets the best of her and she challenges Harlow to the best of three events to see who wins the home--but her loss will come with her losing herself in his bed.

Harlow is troubled when he hears that the home he won was being held in a trust but he has his own personal reasons for needing to own Caitlins home and he has no intention of losing the bet.  He knows what must happen after Caitlin loses and he hopes it will be a win/win situation for them both but in the process he needs to trump the lovely lady in cards, baking and horse racing all while trying to hold on to his heart.

This was my first experience reading Bronwen Evans and I really enjoyed it.  The story worked well with the length, about half the length of a full length novel, and I didn't feel like the romance was rushed.  There is a back story of our couple knowing each other previously and that always helps move a novella along for me.  I really enjoyed Caitlin and her passion for securing her future and her boldness but who I really enjoyed was Harlow.  I don't really want to give away much of the storyline as it came as a pleasant surprise, but I was really surprised at the decenty of him underneath his rakish persona.  Watching the sparks fly between this couple was fun and leads to some very steamy encounters until they finally seal the deal.  However, Harlow is still keeping quite a big secret from Cate and when it is finally revealed it leads to heartbreak and sets up for tragedy.  The only thing that sort of bothered me about the story was the ending.  It has a double whammy that is a bit over dramatic and I'm not sure it needed to be in there.  I understood the first punch but the second tied everything up a little to neatly.  This was the only part where I felt a longer story would have been welcome.

Overall though I really enjoyed this story.  It is fast paced and filled with sharp barbs between our couple and plenty of heated passion all while gradually falling in love with each other and learning to appreciate what the other had to offer .  The supporting characters (two of Harlow's friends whom I hope are the next two books) add a bit of humor to the story as well.  If you are looking for a great way to spend an afternoon, Harlow and Cate's romance is one that is sure to heat up your blood, make you laugh and end with a sigh.  4 stars

A fun quote:
 "Good God, how's a man to concentrate with those staring at him all night?  And I thought I preferred you in trousers.  Well, played Lady Southall."
Wicked Wagers
Two more novellas to come

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