Heiress In Red Silk by Madeline Hunter
I absolutely adored Heiress For Hire, the first book in this series, so when I saw this one come up for review, I jumped right on it. And it’s got a lot of the elements I really enjoyed about the first book; a strong, self-made heroine with more than a little trauma in her background she’s learned to move past, more in the overarching mystery of who killed the previous duke and why exactly he left a large chunk of his fortune to three apparently random strangers and a hero who’s definitely not from the cookie-cutter mold of most romance heroes.
Unfortunately, that last is also where the book fell down a bit for me, because Kevin Radnor is someone I struggled to buy into as a romance hero. He’s clearly written to be on the autism spectrum, with hyperfocus, extraordinary intelligence, failure to consider other people’s feelings and the obvious recognition by his family that he’s liable to unintentionally cause offence just by being himself. And in a lot of ways, I was really rooting for him, because people on the spectrum absolutely deserve to find love too. The problem was that Kevin’s inner dialogue was not only somewhat callous when it came to calculating how he could manipulate Rosamund to do what he wanted, he was downright derogatory towards her for a lot of the book. Even when he began to admire her beyond the physical, he was still completely dismissive that her opinion might amount to anything.
Rosamund had to put up with a lot from his family - including bullying leading all the way up to sexual and physical assault - and his inability to recognise that he was just adding to her burdens was too much. She had to go to extreme lengths to demonstrate that he’d gone too far, and I didn’t honestly have faith that he wouldn’t do exactly the same thing again next time he thought he knew best.
I loved Rosamund from the first time she met Kevin and pointed out to him that of the two of them, she was the one with experience running a successful business. Kevin had his moments, but for the most part, I couldn’t quite see why Rosamund would fall in love with him, and I genuinely didn’t buy that he even understood what love actually is.
You could definitely read this one without having read the first in the series; though Minerva and Chase do appear here (and I’m still delighted with them) it’s not necessary to have read their story. I’m looking forward to Nicholas’s story too in the third book, and I’ll be looking out for it… but I think this one was a bit of a mis-step, because despite some excellent storytelling and a great heroine, I didn’t enjoy the romance. Three stars.
Disclaimer: I received a review copy of this title via NetGalley.