Written by Jo Beverley
Review by Nina C. Davis

Known as the eminence noire of England, Bey Malloren, the Marquess of Rothgar, lives up to his moniker. Powerful at Court, mysterious, magnetic. He meets his counterpart in independence and power in Diana Westmount, the Countess of Arradale, one of the few peeresses in her own right. Swept up in life-threatening political intrigue, these two pillars of strength and resolve find love only by facing their respective vulnerabilities.

Set in 1762, the action centers around the never-ending tensions between England and France and danger to the young George III. One of history’s most colorful characters, the Chevalier D’Eon, is in the midst of the intrigue. But beyond the detailed historical backdrop is the excellent way the author uses mores of the period to move the story along. One example of note, as it appears in more than one of her tales, is the strict rules governing women of the time, and how extraordinary women like Diana chafe under them, longing to reach beyond them in both their public and private lives.

It’s amazing to think Rothgar, a hero who has spawned an almost decade-long following among Beverley’s readership since the first book in the Malloren series, has been “only” a secondary character in all four previous books. How big a following? Readers long ago exhausted supplies of promotional buttons saying simply “Waiting for Rothgar.” A huge expectation for an author to live up to, but Beverley does it with her usual aplomb. Rothgar is at his best, finally the main player on the stage. And Diana is well-matched as his lady love.

The previous books in the Malloren series, in order, are: My Lady Notorious, Tempting Fortune, Something Wicked, and Secrets of the Night.