At 28, Madeleine is a spinster, firmly on the shelf. But there is more to her than the prim and proper exterior she shows the ton. For the past few weeks, she has been assuming an alter-identity as an actress to live her passion on the stage. Obviously, when Ferguson -a newly minted Duke- asks her to help his younger sisters come out into society, he has no idea she is anything less than the model of propriety.
Then Ferguson visits the theater. He is taken by Madeleine's alter ego and quickly figures out her identity. He is torn between wanting her for himself and wanting to keep her innocence intact. I'll bet you can guess which desire won out.
Madeleine's adventure was only supposed to last for a short time, but she is drawing in such a crowd, the owner of the theater begins blackmailing her to stay. She must team up with Ferguson to continue her charade and keep her identity a secret. This, as a passionate affair grows between them.
What I liked about this book is that the hero works out his feelings for the heroine very early on. Usually, in historical romance, the revelation that the hero is really in love doesn't come until close to the end of the book. Not the case here. Ferguson doesn't ever hold back his feelings for Madeleine. That doesn't mean he is perfect. He's overbearing and autocratic at times, though not nearly as much as he fears he is.
My biggest complaint was with Madeleine. Her reticence to accept a future with Ferguson was just... stupid. She explains her reasons, but they simply do not wash for me. I also found her to be reckless at times, and a little selfish. I didn't dislike her, but I wasn't always on board with her decisions.
The sex was definitely good. And bonus points for use of the word "manroot." I'll probably check out the next installment when it comes out. 3 1/2 stars. *ARC Provided by NetGalley