In Warfield’s (The Renegade Wife, 2016, etc.) latest series installment, an English duke in 1838 finds political intrigue and a second chance at love while investigating the opium trade in China.
Charles Wheatly, the Duke of Murnane, believed that he had everything until his world collapsed under a cloud of tragedy and scandal. Desperate for a distraction, he’s intrigued when his mentor, the Duke of Sudbury, presents him with an offer from Queen Victoria. Rogue traders are selling opium throughout China, and the Chinese are pushing back against the traders. The queen wants Charles to go to Asia and investigate the situation. When he arrives in Macau, he’s startled to encounter Zambak Hayden, the Duke of Sudbury’s daughter. Her brother, John Thornton “Thorn” Hayden, is floundering as a clerk for the East India Company, and she intends to protect him. As Charles’ investigation intensifies, Zambak discovers that Thorn is also addicted to opium. While Charles and Zambak work to identify the key players in the opium trade, they find themselves falling in love. Their connection is soon tested when political tensions in the region threaten to escalate into military conflict, and Charles’ estranged wife, Julia, resurfaces to wreak havoc on his reputation. The third installment of Warfield’s Children of Empire series is a keenly observed historical romance, replete with detailed settings, dynamic characters, and a multilayered plot. It’s set in the months leading up to the First Opium War, and although the story is fictional, Warfield references historical figures throughout, including English superintendent Charles Elliot and Chinese official Lin Zexu. Warfield excels at creating well-drawn main characters; Charles is shown to be an honorable man who’s trying to rebuild his life and career after the death of his son, and Zambak is depicted as intelligent, strong-willed, and determined to live life on her own terms. The author deftly balances the romance with the political intrigue of the opium trade and Charles’ quest to end his disastrous marriage.
An entertaining, page-turning historical romance that may appeal to fans of Eloisa James.