About the Book:
In this stunning series debut from New York Times bestselling author Madeline Hunter, a duke’s mysterious bequest brings fortune—and passion—to three young women…
Minerva Hepplewhite has learned the hard way how to take care of herself. When an intruder breaks into her home, she doesn’t swoon or simper. Instead, she wallops the rogue over the head and ties him up. Chase Radnor insists that Minerva has inherited a fortune from his uncle, a wealthy Duke. Only one thing could surprise her more: her sudden attraction to this exasperating man…
Chase can’t decide whether Minerva is a wronged woman or a femme fatale. Either way, he’s intrigued. Since the scandal surrounding her husband’s death, she has set up a discreet detective business to rival Chase’s own. She may be the perfect person to help him uncover the truth about his uncle’s demise. But as proximity gives way to mutual seduction, Chase realizes he craves a much deeper alliance…
Click on title below for direct Amazon buy link: Heiress for Hire (A Duke’s Heiress Romance Book 1)
After mercifully being widowed, the former Margaret Finley left Dorset, and set out to make a new life for herself with her loyal friend, Beth. Now known as Minerva Hepplewhite, she longs to put all thoughts of her abusive deceased husband behind her and begin anew. Though there were grumblings of suspicion that Minerva was responsible for the late Algernon Finley’s death, there was never any proof. One night, Minerva and Beth capture an intruder in their home. They have the man solidly under control, and he proceeds to inform them that he brings news that Minerva has been left a sizable fortune by his late uncle, the former Duke of Hollinburgh, a man Minerva has never met.
Chase Radnor is a gentleman, and a former soldier who occasionally does investigative work, some for the Crown, some for hire. His uncle’s death seems suspicious to him, and so he plans to scrutinize all those who would benefit from the duke’s demise, including his own family. While the entailed properties automatically transfer to the new duke, the sizable amount of cash and investments was bequeathed to three women, one of them being Minerva, none of them known to the family. Chase was hoping to find information in Minerva’s home, when he was unexpectedly caught and bound.
Minerva is shocked and disbelieving, at first, that a man she doesn’t know would leave her a fortune. She meets with the solicitor Chase directed her to, and discovers that she is about to be an heiress. With her uncertain future now secure, Minerva intends to pursue her own desire to be an investigator. Her first case will be her own – why would the Duke of Hollinburgh leave her a fortune? Her path is obviously going to cross with Chase’s, over and over again, as he is on the same quest.
Right from the start, I loved the relationship between Chase and Minerva. He is clearly suspicious of her, yet he speaks the truth about his suspicions without being obnoxious, rude, or heavy handed. He acts like the gentleman he is, a fact that is greatly appreciated by Minerva, who has been used to a life of abuse and scorn. They “sort of” agree to share information with each other, though they do tend to hold back little things. As they get to know each other better, they feel an attraction, as well as a respect for each other, and decide that neither of them is guilty.
To her surprise, Minerva begins to feel desire for Chase, something she thought had been beaten out of her by her husband. She sees the matching longing in his eyes, and very slowly, she allows kisses and embraces, gradually overcoming her fear of intimacy. Chase’s care and patience with Minerva as she regains her sexuality is breathtaking. He’s an amazing man, one very easy to fall in love with. Though Chase realizes that he wants more than an affair, Minerva has made it clear that she will never remarry. Her newfound financial independence solidifies her resolve to never be bound to a man again.
HEIRESS FOR HIRE is a fantastic book to read, both for the mystery, as well as the steamy romance. This is the start of a new series, and while we do learn the probable reason the duke left a fortune to Minerva, we don’t positively find out the identity of his murderer, though there are plenty of hints and suspects. We meet Chase’s extended family, many of them with strong motives, as well as a possibility outside the family. I’m guessing that will finally be resolved in the final book. Chase and Minerva, do, however, achieve their happy ending, and it is a sweet one. HEIRESS FOR HIRE is one of those “read in one sitting” books, as the plot, excellent writing, and strong, likeable characters captivated me throughout. I’m usually so focused on the hero, that it takes a really strong heroine to grab my attention, but Minerva did that. I admire both of them for their character, their strength, and their genuine kindness and determination. Their chemistry and heart touching romance makes for a delicious and satisfying read, which I highly recommend. ~Rose