Posts tagged “victor

When the Rogue Returns: A Book Review

WARNING: This book review may contain spoilers. (Oh, those pesky things!)

So I’ve been reading…a lot.

Really, what’s a girl to do when she keeps receiving goodies from booksellers in the mail? I really feel like I need to give a special shout out to Chapters/Indigo for sending me a gift card, which I then used to buy a copy of Sabrina Jeffries’ latest masterpiece, When the Rogue Returns.

Victor Cale never imagined his sweet, shy wife, Isabella, would use her talent for creating exquisite imitation jewels for criminal pursuits. But there’s no denying it was Isa’s handiwork that turned up in the brazen heist of the Dutch royal family’s diamonds after she disappeared into the night.

Ten years later, still reeling from her betrayal and enraged that her duplicitous side was so undetectable, the sexy investigator heads to Edinburgh, where his cousin Maximilian has landed him a job tailing a wealthy baron’s bride-to-be. Simple enough—until the “fiancée” in question proves to be Isa, masquerading as an alluringly eligible young widow.

No longer the meek and mild girl he once knew, the bold woman vehemently asserts that it was Victor who abandoned her. Piecing together the past to prove Isa’s innocence reawakens a volatile passion, hotter than ever. With a decade of secrets between them, Victor and Isa must trust each other in order to bring the scheming thieves to justice–without getting burned themselves.

Of course, I also have to mention that Ms. Jeffries was cruel enough to bait me with a 40-page preview of the novel, but then withhold the rest for a good 6 months before release date. How did she expect me to survive when the last lines I read before a 6-month blackout were:

With her back to him, Isa froze. 

Good. He hoped he’d thrown her into a panic. He was looking forward to seeing her alarm at being caught, after all these years. Or better yet, worried about what vengeance the husband she’d betrayed might mete out.

She began to turn toward him slowly, as if in a dream. He just had time to glimpse the porcelain skin, full lips, and other sweet features he’d found so compelling nearly ten years ago, when her gaze met his. 

To his shock, it was ablaze with fury. 

Yes, dear readers, for 6 whole months, Ms. Jeffries left me hanging with the thoughts – “OMG! What’s Victor going to do? What is Isabella going to do? WHAT AM I GOING TO DO?!” – rolling around in my head. Worst of all, I was sworn to secrecy and, therefore, couldn’t discuss my inner turmoil with anyone.

And I had thought, as one of her precious street team members, Ms. Jeffries would not play such cruel games with my heart.

But I digress…

I eventually was given the opportunity to read When the Rogue Returns – I read it on release day in fact – but I was unable to post my review, due in part that I was still reeling from the emotional, action-packed thrill ride that is the novel.

When the Rogue Returns was all about second chances. Isa and Victor have to learn to work together despite the fact that they each feel the other betrayed them ten years ago – the readers, of course, know this wasn’t what happened but Isa and Victor have to work through their misconceptions together. It doesn’t help the fact that ten years ago both Isa and Victor were very young and vulnerable to the manipulations of those around them. Isa grew up in the ten years after Victor “abandoned” her and has made a home for her and her daughter in Edinburgh. Victor, on the other hand, thinks his wife is a con-artist and refuses to let himself trust her.

I think the best part of this novel is that Isa and Victor learn to communicate for the sake of their daughter. And it helps that both of the characters have matured in their ten years apart, and grown into their own identities, enough to realize that in reality events are not always black and white. For Isa and Victor, the ten year separation was a good thing because when you see the characters reunite after the prologue, they are both strong enough to stand their own ground and smart enough to admit their faults.

That said, I nearly died from all the things Ms. Jeffries made me feel, such as the intensity of the “I want to punch Victor!” emotions and the “Why, Isabella, why?!” torment.

Only, apparently, torturing me through the novel wasn’t enough because Ms. Jeffries left a sneak peek at the end of the book for Tristan’s novel, How the Scoundrel Seduces and she’s making me wait until August to read it – of course, she blames the delay on her publisher but we all know who the real culprit is. 😉

Rika Ashton

(aka The Much Tormented)

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Cover and Blurb Reveal: When the Rogue Returns by Sabrina Jeffries

I squealed – yeah, squealed – like a piglet when I saw the cover for Sabrina Jeffries, When the Rogue Returns, the second installment in the Duke’s Men series.

Though this isn’t the fully edited version of the cover, it’s still gorgeous, no?

But for a special bonus treat, Ms. Jeffries revealed that the second novel features a heroine who is a jewellery designer.

“The new cover of When the Rogue Returns, which is coming out late January 2014! She’s a diamond cutter/jeweler, hence the necklace.” (Sabrina Jeffries via Facebook.)

And then I found an official blurb on a UK bookstore website which revealed a little more…

It had been a decade since Victor Cale, first cousin to the Duke of Lyons, had seen his wife. After some royal jewellery went missing from the jeweller’s shop where they worked, Isabel Mertens disappeared. When Victor gets word of a woman who fits his wife’s description, he sets out to confront her. But he discovers that nothing is as it seems-and revenge is never as sweet as true love.

EDITTED TO ADD: Sabrina Jeffries visited by blog – excuse me while I take a moment to let that sink in – and read the blurb I’d posted. She then shared an even more comprehensive blurb with me that I could post, so here it is!

Victor Cale never imagined his sweet, shy wife, Isabella, would use her talent for creating exquisite imitation jewels for criminal pursuits. But there’s no denying it was Isa’s handiwork that turned up in the scandalous and brazen heist of the Dutch royal family’s diamonds after she disappeared into the night.

Ten years later, still reeling from her betrayal and enraged that her duplicitous side was all but undetectable, the sexy investigator heads to Edinburgh, where his cousin Maximilian has landed him a job tailing a wealthy baron’s bride-to-be. Simple enough—until the “fiancée” in question proves to be Isa, masquerading as an alluringly eligible young widow.

No longer the meek and mild newlywed he once knew, the daring woman vehemently asserts that it was Victor who abandoned her. Piecing together the past to prove Isa’s innocence reawakens a volatile passion, hotter than ever. With a decade of secrets between them, Victor and Isa must trust each other in order to bring the scheming thieves to justice without getting burned themselves.

The first blurb is the one from the UK site and the second is the official -maybe – North American blurb that Ms. Jeffries was given with her cover flat.

I don’t know about you, but I am very excited for this novel!

Rika Ashton

(aka The Sabrina Jeffries Insider)


What the Duke Desires: A Book Review

Warning: As much as I try to avoid these, spoilers may be present in this book review.

And today, for a review of Sabrina Jeffries’ highly anticipated (at least by me) novel, What the Duke Desires!

Maximilian Cale, the Duke of Lyons, accepted long ago that his kidnapped brother was dead. When a cryptic note from investigator Tristan Bonnaud claims otherwise, Max seeks out Tristan’s sister, Lisette—and is infuriated to learn that Tristan has also mysteriously vanished. Have the siblings perpetrated an elaborate hoax? Or is the fiercely protective beauty as innocent as she claims them to be?

Fearful that the powerful duke will destroy Tristan’s career in his zeal for the truth, the clever Lisette convinces Max to accompany her to Paris in a joint search for their loved ones. But their journey takes a seductive twist when they pose as an ordinary husband and wife—not an English duke with a tarnished family name and the illegitimate daughter of a viscount—and discover an exhilarating passion free from the damning secrets of the past. With the line between danger and desire enticingly blurred, they discover that some mysteries, like those of the heart, are answered tenfold in the bliss of a true and trusting love.

What the Duke Desires is as much a novel about the influence of parents on children as it is a romance. Both Lisette and Max had childhoods, which although not perfect, were not entirely horrible either.

Lisette’s mother, the French mistress of an English Viscount, was loving and supportive of her children and Lisette’s father was likewise as loving, if a little absentminded. However, despite the fact that Lisette’s mother and father loved one another, they were not married. According to Lisette, it seems as if her father kept putting of their marriage for one reason or another – and Lisette (as well as myself) assumed it was because he didn’t want to marry his mistress. But the real tragedy arrives, when Lisette’s father dies unexpectedly and his heir, George Manton (the story’s main villain and Lisette’s half brother) forces Lisette, her brother Tristan and her mother off his property. Dominick, George’s brother leaves with them, choosing to support his half-siblings out of a sense of loyalty and love.

The history between Lisette’s parents has turned her against marriage and men and towards  a way to be independent – and not fake independence either, the kind where the heroine talks about independence but doesn’t do anything. Lisette had worked for the French police and now works for Manton’s Investigations – it’s clear she has a career and doesn’t rely solely on her brother’s for support. Another characteristic I liked about Lisette was her ability not to take herself, or what anyone says about her too seriously. She’s able to fend off most of Max’s accusations – and he makes some wild ones – with logic and good humour.

Dominick’s wonderful and I have a sneaking suspicion that he will get a story, along with his ex-fiance, Jane – hopefully soon. He’s a supportive brother and the head of Manton’s Investigation, renamed The Duke’s Men later in the book. As far as brothers go, I think Dominick is definitely a more responsible one than Tristan – though Tristan has his moments.

Tristan’s another interesting character, with an interesting career as an agent for the Surete Nationale (the French Secret Police). While I’m sure Tristan will have his own novel soon (really how could he not with a career like his – so much potential), I think he has a little growing up to do before he’s ready for a happily ever after.

But, since I’m sure the character you really want to know about is the Duke of Lyons, Maximillian Cale – or Max, as Lisette dubs him – I’ll get to him now. Max meets Lisette when he storms into Manton’s Investigations demanding to know where Tristan is. Tristan, as one would have it has sent Max a cryptic letter claiming he’s found Max’s long-lost, thought to be dead, brother but then didn’t show up the the secret meeting. Max afraid this is some kind of hoax wants an explanation.

Readers might remember Max from the “Hellions of Halstead Hall” series – he’s the duke that the ton considers “mad” – as in insane, not constantly angry, though if everyone kept calling me crazy, I’d think I had a right to be angry.

Max suffers from the fear that he had inherited a family madness, since both his father and great-uncle went mad. Because this is a romance, I knew that Max couldn’t really be “mad,” although I did second guess myself a lot, but I was really hoping for a good explanation – and, boy, did I get a good one. No, Max doesn’t have a magical immunity which means that he won’t go mad, but a much more scientific and believable explanation was given – and yes, I was very impressed because I had no idea something like this coud happen. (But, you’ll have to read the novel to find out what it is, because no way am I spoiling something this good.)

When Max and Lisette meet, we finally get to see Lisette’s dramatic side. She convinces Max – a duke – to pose as a commoner. As you can imagine, it’s fun reading about a spoiled duke learning to live like a commoner. One of my favourite scenes in the novel occurs when Max learns that commoner’s share bath water, between couples and sometimes between families:

“I merely thought you should know that you may have to wait a while for [your bath]. Madame insists that you have fresh water, and it will take a while to heat it. If fresh water is what you prefer.”

Now Max was bewildered. “Of course I prefer fresh water. What else is there?”

The butler rolled his eyes, as if frustrated at dealing with someone so oblivious as Maximillian. “Wives and husbands often share bathwater in France, Mr. Kale. I forgot that you English can be…fastidious.”

Several things hit Max at once. One, he’d forgotten that he was supposed to be married. Two, he’d forgotten that the servants didn’t know he was a duke. And three, people actually shared bathwater?

Along with the funny moments is the steamy romance, which is signature of Sabrina Jeffries. Max and Lisette are attracted to one another, but both are resistant to act on these emotions. Lisette because she doesn’t want to repeat her mother’s mistake by falling in love with someone above her station, and Max because he knows that he’ll fall in love with Lisette but fears he’ll go mad and she’ll suffer watching his digress. (But, of course, if you try to surress fire for too long, there’s going to be an explosion!)

One thing I loved most about this novel was that Max and Lisette were not only good at admitting their feelings, but had good legitimate reasons for why they wanted to avoid marriage – not flimsy I-don’t-want-to-marry-you-because-I’m-afraid-of-commitment kind of reasons.

But if you’re still not convinced that Max and Lisette are a couple worth reading about, watch this video for some more funny teasers:

And, finally, as always I’m impressed with the amount of historical detail that goes into a Sabrina Jeffries novel. In What the Duke Desires, we get to meet Eugene Vidocq – a real criminal turned secret French investigator who lived in the time period.

So what’s the verdict?

Go out and grab a copy of What the Duke Desires. Trust me, finding out what Max desires will be worth it.

Edited to add: Sabrina Jeffries has confirmed (in a group FB post) that the next novel will be about Max’s relative (who I assume is Victor), followed by Tristan and then, Dominick’s – she’s saving him for last.

And if you’ve had a chance to read What the Duke Desires already, what are your thoughts? Are you loving the novel as much as I did or do you think I’ve lost my mind recommending this book? (Leave a comment with your thoughts and/or ravings.)

Rika Ashton

(aka Book Reviewer Extraordinaire)

Disclaimer: All book quotes used in this review are the property of Sabrina Jeffries © 2013.