Review – Not the Duke’s Darling by Elizabeth Hoyt

About the Book:

New York Times bestselling author Elizabeth Hoyt brings us the first book in her sexy and sensual Greycourt Series!

Freya de Moray is many things: a member of the secret order of Wise Women, the daughter of disgraced nobility, and a chaperone living under an assumed name. What she is not is forgiving. So when the Duke of Harlowe, the man who destroyed her brother and led to the downfall of her family, appears at the country house party she’s attending, she does what any Wise Woman would do: she starts planning her revenge.

Christopher Renshaw, the Duke of Harlowe, is being blackmailed. Intent on keeping his secrets safe, he agrees to attend a house party where he will put an end to this coercion once and for all. Until he recognizes Freya, masquerading amongst the party revelers, and realizes his troubles have just begun. Freya knows all about his sins—sins he’d much rather forget. But she’s also fiery, bold, and sensuous—a temptation he can’t resist. When it becomes clear Freya is in grave danger, he’ll risk everything to keep her safe. But first, Harlowe will have to earn Freya’s trust-by whatever means necessary.

Click on title below for direct Amazon buy link:                                                    Not the Duke’s Darling: Includes a bonus novella (The Greycourt Series Book 1)

My Review:

I received a complimentary copy of this book.

Fifteen years ago, an incident which became known as the Greycourt Tragedy, resulted in the death of a young woman, and tore three best friends and their families apart.  Freya Stewart de Moray was only twelve years old at the time, and has never learned the full details of what happened on that fateful night.  Her older brother, Ran, made plans to elope with Aurelia, with the assistance of his two best friends, Julian and Christopher.  Something went drastically wrong, and Aurelia ended up dying, with Ran being blamed, then severely beaten.  The resulting injuries and the loss of Aurelia has since caused Ran to live in seclusion.  Freya came to despise everyone involved, even Christopher, who was her first crush.  In the intervening years, Freya joined a society called the Wise Women, an organization that promotes the education of women, and provides all kinds of assistance to women in need.  It’s a secret organization, due to some men’s backward thinking that they are witches.  Freya has been working undercover as a lady’s companion while secretly gathering information for the Wise Women.

Christopher Renshaw, now the Duke of Harlowe, has returned from India, where his father exiled him for thirteen years after the scandal created by the Greycourt Tragedy.  Christopher’s father also arranged a marriage for him, one that was a total mismatch.  Christopher and his wife were victims of one of the uprisings and were imprisoned in deplorable conditions, where his wife did not survive.  Now Christopher does his best to endure all the painful memories he has, and his companion dog, Tess, is always by his side.  Christopher encounters Freya, not knowing who she is, and is puzzled by her hostile reaction to him.

Though twelve year old Freya dreamed of one day marrying Christopher, the current grown up version of Freya despises him, and his part in her brother’s wasted life.  After several hostile encounters with Christopher, the volatile Freya finally reveals who she is, and demands to know why Christopher did not rescue her brother all those years ago.  Christopher, himself, does not know the whys and wherefores of everything that happened, and can only apologize for his own inaction at the time.

Despite her apparent hatred, Freya can’t help but still feel attracted to Christopher, who’s now a strong and handsome man.  Christopher is equally drawn to Freya, who waffles between kissing him senseless and berating him.  Aside from dealing with their personal feelings for each other, Christopher is being blackmailed, while Freya is being stalked by someone who believes she’s a witch.  I immediately felt sympathy for Christopher, who clearly has suffered much mistreatment and loss.  Tess would be the equivalent of what we call a therapy dog today, and helps Christopher through his rough times.  While dealing with his own issues, Christopher clearly wants to help Freya, who was not quite as easy to like.  I admire her for her work in helping other women, and I can sympathize with her pain over her brother, but her general scorn for all men, and her rejection of Christopher’s love and assistance didn’t endear her to me.

NOT THE DUKE’S DARLING is clearly setting up the foundation of the Greycourt Series, and introduces a lot of characters, many of them we have yet to meet.  After digging into the book, it was easy enough to sort out who’s who, and I am eagerly looking forward to the upcoming stories, especially Ran’s.  (It seems that he’s very deserving of a happy ending.)  I really liked Christopher, with his strength and determination.  His support of, and love for, the prickly Freya, despite his own demons, made me fall a bit in love with him myself.  NOT THE DUKE’S DARLING is an intriguing read, and a tantalizing introduction into the Greycourt series.    ~Rose

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