Monday, June 5, 2017

ARC Review and Giveaway: From Duke Till Dawn by Eva Leigh

Series:     London Underground #1
Pub. Date:May 30, 2017
Length:384 pages

Following The Wicked Quills of London series, Eva Leigh is continuing the theme of unconventional heroines of the commoner class paired with intriguing heroes of the nobility in this new London Underground series. Fans of the rags-to-riches trope will surely enjoy watching these women of questionable moral character get their hooks into dashing dukes and enticing earls.

Alexander Lewis, Duke of Greyland is a staid and stuffy lord with an air of vulnerability. After losing his heart to a disappearing widow, Greyland has now been jilted by his intended bride and must show himself to the lords and ladies of society to prove that he is not pining away in the ducal mansion. Despite his outward display of the utmost propriety, our poor duke feels quite unlovable and believes there is something wrong with him. This first introduction to Greyland got my empathy engaged and created a soft spot for the duke with this reader. Unfortunately, that was to the detriment of the heroine of this story.

Cassandra Blake is a swindler from Southwark, having grown up in the streets after her father expired in debtor's prison. She learned the art of the con as she matured, and played the beautiful destitute widow as a means to bilk men out of their money. This was the method of Cassandra's first encounter with our desirous duke, after which she disappeared, crushing his spurned heart in the process. Two years later, Cassandra will come face-to-face with Greyland as she assists London's finest to part with their funds inside a gaming hell. Unfortunately for her, knowing that Cassandra was a con artist and had crushed our hero's heart predisposed me not to like her character. Greyland got to my hole of empathy first and filled it up before I could consider Cassandra's tragic childhood and rough upbringing. It didn't help that she was obsessed with his privation and her privilege, and she attempted to make him feel bad for the circumstances of his birth. So I tended to nitpick her character flaws without much forgiveness for a hard-lived life.

Greyland's prior entanglement with Cassandra and his lingering feelings made the betrayal, once discovered, all the more poignant. I could not fault him for the spark of hate he felt, and felt bad that he despaired all the more for his unlovable self-identity. However, I did enjoy watching the stuffy duke come alive with his entree into the criminal underground to aid his deceptive damsel. Greyland learned that he thrived on the excitement and danger, and was tired of the mundane matters which he faced daily. I especially loved that our uptight duke had a naughty side, and became quite the capable dirty talker once he and Cassandra rekindled their intimacy. 

The betrayal of Cassandra by her business partner was a multi-faceted plot device. As the betrayer becomes the betrayed, she must walk a mile in the shoes of her victims, and she sees for the first time just how hurtful her actions may have been. The search for the missing business partner and funds also allowed our H/h to be thrown together in dangerous and titillating situations, which heightened their desire, and sparked and magnified the old feelings each had. I did feel like the duke bent his beliefs and understanding more than the heroine, but hope that we will see them in a more equal light as the series progresses. 

I recommend this story to fans of historical romance, specifically the rags-to-riches trope. I am particularly interested in the story of Amina and the Earl of Langdon, so I will be watching for the next release date. I voluntarily reviewed an advanced copy of this book that I received from the publisher, Avon.

About the Author

Eva Leigh is a romance author who has always loved the Regency era. She writes novels chock-full of smart women and sexy men. She enjoys baking, spending too much time on the Internet, and listening to music from the ’80s. Eva and her husband live in Central California.

Eva also writes in multiple romance genres as RITA-award nominated Zoë Archer.