A family feud in Regency England comes to a predictable crescendo when the son of one family falls in love with the daughter of another.
Hawkins (A Duke but No Gentleman, 2015) returns to her Masters of Seduction series with the next chapter in the lives of the Brant and Rooke families. Mathias Rooke, Marquess of Fairlamb, knows that his father despises the Marquess of Norgrave, but he doesn’t know why. But he’s sheeplike enough to treat the Marquess’ son, the Earl of Marcroft, as his own enemy and misses no chance to goad and taunt Marcroft into a brawl. When he comes upon the beautiful Lady Tempest Brant picnicking with her sisters on a summer day, he is dismayed to realize that she is Marcroft’s sister. He begins to pursue her at first to annoy Marcroft but soon finds himself overcome with lust and affection for the young lady. Mathias is just as foolish and obnoxious as his father, the hero of the author’s last novel, although he is less despicable toward women of a lower social station. Still, the novel suffers from the same painful prose and the same utter lack of likable characters. Lady Tempest is a ninny who does her parents’ bidding even though her mother is a fool and her father, a blackguard. Mathias behaves just like the pampered 22-year-old he is, and his parents are doomed to repeat the same mistakes they made as youths—by not facing up to hard conversations or telling the truth, they cause untold pain for everyone around them. The book’s sole redeeming quality is the way it portrays the long-term effects of sexual violence. Mathias’ mother suffered an attack before he was born, and it has shaped his life just as surely as it has shaped hers.
The weak characters and weaker prose make this book one to avoid.