I’m in an admitted historic romance kick – and while I have some favorite authors already in the genre, Meredith Duran is a new author for me. Fool Me Twice is the second in a series, but I found that it stood alone quite well, with enough background given for recurring characters to make any questions moot, but stirring a desire to read their stories.
I enjoyed Duran’s writing, she manages to present the period giving the reader a sense of the time and the setting, and giving characters a touch of modernity to appeal to contemporary readers. Olivia is clever, determined and in more than her fair share of difficulty. Her intention is to pose as a housekeeper to gain access to letters that will remove the threats against her person, held in the keeping of Alastair, Duke of Marwick.
Alastair, for his part, is the consummate political animal: controlled and with a long memory for slights and little patience for questions. He has serious issues with trust, his late wife betrayed his trust and broke his heart with her unfaithfulness, and he is seeking to wield his not inconsiderable power to gain vengeance against those who have wronged him.
These two are an interesting pairing: while Alastair is intrigued by the clever redhead, he is often put out by her seeming nosiness and inability to ‘stay in her place”. These two are so damaged with bone-deep secrets that they strive to bury in the past; yet the issues from those secrets are reenacted repeatedly in act and deed with one another, particularly in terms of their attraction.
Part of the intrigue in Historic romance is the power imbalance that is structured into the position of women of the age not having a value in society’s eyes: yet most often this imbalance is more than remedied with the heroine being strong willed, sharp and so utterly beguiling and entrancing to the male who wants her that his character gives way and sees her more of an equal than a possession. Sadly, in this story, the power imbalance led to several scenes of a more sexual nature that were borderline dubious consent, with less of the “missish’ reluctance/conflicted emotional and physical reaction to the acts: those actually make more sense to me in a historical setting, because of the societal constraints and the devastating blow to the woman’s life should her reputation for chastity and proper decorum be tarnished.
The distinct disadvantage in finding Alastair’s continual need to assert his mastery over everyone and thing made him highly difficult to empathize with, it isn’t until further into the story that the true pain of the betrayals provide a sense of the good man that he could become. Olivia isn’t immune to her own failings either: her initial plans to steal away with the letters that will prove to be her salvation and her lack of familiarity with being in service, and her decided inability to cope with acting the part almost unmask her as a fraud before Alastair’s interest takes hold. There is a decided dark streak that runs through this story, not all is hearts and flowers and sweet words, but the two do reach an accord, and find a way to trust in one another for their mutual gain.
Durand writes beautifully, and with the few issues I had where there were moments of discomfort or the characters didn’t seem to ring true to their development, I was engaged and couldn’t wait to see where things would end up. It isn’t until Olivia and her determination and will, and ability to withstand more than she originally thought possible take center stage that the story falls into place piece by piece and ends with a most satisfactory conclusion.
Title: Fool Me Twice
Author: Meredith Duran
Genre: Historical Romance
Published by: Gallery Books, Pocket Books, Threshold
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Audio Length: 11 Hours: 45 minutes
Heat: Get Your Copy: Amazon ♦ AllRomance ♦ Barnes&Noble ♦ iTunes ♦ Kobo ♦ Downpour ♦ IndieBound ♦ Book Depository ♦Audible ♦Tantor Audio ♦Direct from Publisher
A LADY WITH A SECRET
Running for her life, exhausted and out of options, Olivia Holladay wants nothing more than the chance to make a home for herself. So when she realizes that the infamous Duke of Marwick might hold the key to her freedom, she boldly disguises herself as the newest and bravest in a long line of the duke’s notoriously temperamental housekeepers. Little does she know that the wickedly handsome Alastair de Grey has very different plans for her. . . .
A MAN WITH A PASSION—FOR VENGEANCE
As his new employee, Olivia is a fearless upstart. As a woman, the daring redhead is just what Alastair needs to rouse him from darkness to the siren call of revenge. He has suffered a betrayal so deep that he will use whatever means necessary to destroy his enemies—even his brazen and beautiful domestic. But his vengeful plan fails to account for his single weakness: an irresistible and growing passion for the enigmatic Olivia.
A copy of this title was provided via Publisher via NetGalley for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.