Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for Duchess If You Dare by Anabelle Bryant!
From the glittering ballrooms of the ton to the city’s grittiest corners, London has no shortage of wrongs in need of righting–and the Maidens of Mayhem are prepared for the challenge. United by secrecy and sisterhood, these daring women from all walks of life aim to fight injustice wherever it takes them–even into the arms of unexpected love. This feminist take on Regency-era Robin Hoods from USA Today bestselling author Anabelle Bryant is destined to storm readers’ hearts!
Scarlett Wynn’s tragic childhood taught her that life can be cruel to women with little power. So when a local seamstress disappears, Scarlett vows to find out why. Armed with a weapon and her courage, Scarlett scours London for clues–and crosses the unlikely path of Ambrose Cross, the Duke of Aylesford, at an unlikely place: an upscale brothel. The Duke is trying to solve a mystery of his own, and Scarlett is sure they can help each other–if she can resist the attraction that draws them together…
As Duke of Aylesford, Ambrose is duty-bound to protect his family name from scandal no matter the cost. But Scarlett’s fearless spirit forces him to look beyond his world of privilege. Scarlett is as intoxicating as she is dangerous, igniting a fire in him like no other. When the pair learn both mysteries they’re trying to solve are tied to a string of missing women, the tangled scheme they uncover may put their lives, and their growing love, in mortal danger–and lead them to search their hearts like never before…
“A delightful historical romance with a liberal dash of adventure, plenty of sizzling heat, and a heart of pure gold. A superb start to Bryant’s new Maidens of Mayhem series” –Lenora Bell, USA Today bestselling author
“Duchess if You Dare is a fantastic read that kept me up late and has me anxiously awaiting the next book in the series.” –USA Today Bestselling Author Renee Ann Miller
USA Today Bestselling author Anabelle Bryant began reading at age three and never stopped. Her passion for reading soon turned into a passion for writing and an author was born. Happy to grab her suitcase if it ensures a new adventure, Anabelle finds endless inspiration in travel; especially imaginary jaunts into romantic Regency England, a far cry from her home in New Jersey. Instead, her clever characters live out her daydreams because really, who wouldn’t want to dance with a handsome duke or kiss a wicked earl?
Anabelle’s books have been translated into several languages including Japanese and Russian, but writing isn’t all that keeps her busy. Building miniatures, baking and photography are other favorite pastimes. Often found with her nose in a book, Anabelle is just as happy in a room full of people. She enjoys meeting readers, attending conferences and book signings. She has earned her Master’s Degree and is ABD for her Doctorate Degree in education.
A firm believer in romance, Anabelle knows sometimes life doesn’t provide a happily ever after, but her novels always do. Visit her website at AnabelleBryant.com
In Duchess If You Dare, readers are introduced to the Maidens of Mayhem, who do not follow societies’ rules and choose to explore mysteries. It is historical England, so it is not the norm for ladies to be out without escorts, wear pants, or let alone try to solve crimes. They are a group that on the surface seem to have little power, but they want to prove society wrong and do good deeds. This novel is the promising first novel in the series that seems to take a member of the “Maidens” group and give them their own tale.
Our first main character is Scarlett is one of the founding members of The Maidens of Mayhem. She is the daughter of a former brothel worker, who was murdered by one of her supposed protectors. She learned early on that she would need to rely on herself to protect both herself and those that need protection. When her seamstress, Linie, goes missing, she decides to make it her mission to find her. The investigation leads her initially to a brothel, The Scarlet Rose, where Linie moonlighted as a worker. It is here that the true mystery unravels as it is revealed that Linie is not the only one to have recently gone missing.
Ambrose Cross, the Duke of Aylesford, first “meets” Scarlett at the Scarlet Rose when he is there attempting to clean up one of the many messes created by his brother, Martin. The two of them live very different lives as Martin gambles, visits brothels, and seems to live a carefree existence. On the other hand, Ambrose is more uptight, as he is the head of the household and the one who needs to uphold the family name and position. As it turns out, Martin, and Ambrose by association, become involved in the mystery of the missing brothel workers. Since Ambrose and Scarlett are after the same goal, they find themselves constantly meeting in unexpected places causing the two of them to begin knowing each other.
Ambrose and Scarlett have insta-lust because they each represent something that the other wants. Ambrose loves that Scarlett is not like other women in society, given that she is not an official member of the ton. Scarlett loves that Ambrose represents the security and protection she never had in her past. They develop feelings for each other extremely fast given that they do not spend a ton of time together, but, for me, it is slightly more understandable in a historical novel as it follows a lot of what you’d expect of the times. There is a lot of resistance given their different stations, which could be considered scandalous for the duke to marry below his station, so they need to overcome the obstacle of society. The two do get to know each other and initially acknowledge their lust rather than love, but, like most stories, there is not much needed to sometimes push lust and turn it into love.
This is a series that has one central group, The Maidens of Mayhem, and each novel seems to follow one of the ladies in their own stories. This type of series has its positives and negatives as I love that the universe can expand with all the characters, but sometimes I wish one character can be the main to have their story told over multiple books. This novel was the latter. Although it was very enjoyable, I feel that the novel needed more time to get to know the maidens, so the readers are fully invested in getting to know more by the time the next novel is released. I think a prequel novel is greatly needed just to give the reader background into the formation of the group, how the different members became involved, and how they each gained their different skills.
Overall, this was an enjoyable novel that is almost two novels in one as there is both the mystery portion and the romance portion that mingle together to become one story. Each piece separately was great, but it seemed the two did not always come together as there was not enough depth given to each to seamlessly put them together. Maybe a few extra pages could have been beneficial just to tie them together a little more. The novel itself though is a very enjoyable and easy read. The stage is set nicely for the next novel in the series to take place and I look forward to reading it once it is available!
**I want to give a special thank you to Rachel @Rachel’s Random Resources and the author, Anabelle Bryant, for a copy of this delightful novel! It was seriously entertaining and the opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.**
Check Out the Other Blogs on the Tour: