Their love was always in the cards.
He should have thrown her out. But when club owner Alexander Lavoie catches a mysterious blonde counting cards at his vingt-et-un table, he’s more intrigued than angry. He has to see more of this beauty—in his club, in his office, in his bed. But first he’ll have to devise a proposition she can’t turn down.
Gossip said he was an assassin.
Common sense told her to stay away. But Angelique Archer was desperate, and Lavoie’s club offered a surefire way to make quick money—until she got caught. Instead of throwing her out though, the devil offers her a deal: come work for him. Refusing him means facing starvation, but with a man so sinfully handsome and fiercely protective, keeping things professional might prove impossible.
Click on title below for direct Amazon buy link: Between the Devil and the Duke (A Season for Scandal)
Angelique Archer never quite took during her first season. Because of her unwillingness to dance (which she did poorly) and her inability to make small talk, she soon became known as the Marble Maiden. She left society to take care of her dying mother, and never rejoined society as her father died not long after. With her family fortune seemingly vanished into thin air, and her wastrel brother continuing to spend extravagantly, Angelique has to take desperate steps. There is a gambling club, Lavoie’s, which allows women to wager. The female gamblers wear masks in order to hide their identities and protect their reputations. Angelique is determined to keep her family losses a secret and to win enough funds to provide for what remains of her household, and to keep her younger brothers in school. You see, Angelique is a genius with numbers – she is able to memorize cards which have been played and accurately calculate odds. She cleverly intersperses small losses among her winnings, and tries to remain as unobtrusive as possible. She has, however, come to the notice of the club’s owner.
Alexander Lavoie makes certain that he is aware of all that happens in his club. He notices everything about the beautiful woman who comes to gamble – he knows that she doesn’t cheat, he knows that she’s trying to stay inconspicuous, he knows that she’s brilliant, but he doesn’t know who she is. When a drunk accosts Angelique, Alex steps in to defuse the situation, anxious to interact with the intriguing mystery woman. As luck would have it, Angelique’s intoxicated brother shows up, creates havoc, and allows Alex to discover her identity. He realizes that Angelique is not gambling for the thrill, but that she’s in desperate need of the money. Alex offers her a job in his club because he feels that would be very lucrative, but also because he wants to further his acquaintance. While Angelique initially refuses, her brother’s actions cause yet a more serious financial loss, and she accepts the job at Lavoie’s as a masked dealer.
From the beginning, Alex and Angelique (whom he eventually calls “Angel”) have an intense physical awareness of each other, which they both intend to ignore. But aside from the attraction, they discover another connection, a mental one, as well as genuine liking and admiration. Alex is not intimidated by Angel’s extreme intelligence and abilities, rather he appreciates them. And Angel looks beyond Alex’s reputation of being a spy and assassin to see the honorable, kind and caring man underneath. I have to say that I fell in love with Alex – what a fantastic hero he is. Almost from the beginning, he knew he was smitten and he admitted it. He never hesitated to do what he had to do to help Angel. I never thought I’d get the shivers from just hearing a man say, “Mmmm,” but Alex has that effect on me. As for Angel, she never looked down on Alex or his connections, though she’s the daughter of a marquess. She’s strong, determined, and a worthy match for him.
As Alex and Angel’s affair heats up, the investigation into the missing Archer family fortune leads to a twisted story of family secrets, betrayals, and revenge. I can’t speak highly enough of Kelly Bowen’s fantastic writing. She is rapidly becoming a favorite author, with her likable, intelligent protagonists and exciting storylines. BETWEEN THE DEVIL AND THE DUKE had it all for me – sizzling passion, genuine romance, great characters, and a captivating story. The whole Season for Scandal series has been a winner, one which I give my highest recommendation.