I received this book for free from Netgalley in order to prepare an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
A Lady's Code of Misconduct (Rules for the Reckless, #5) by Meredith Duran
Series: Rules for the Reckless #5
Published by Pocket Books on February 28th 2017
“Who are you? How do you know me?” The color drained from her face. “I…” Her lips opened and closed. “I’m Jane,” she said unsteadily. “And you…” Her indrawn breath sounded ragged. “You, Crispin, are my husband.”
FINAL DECISION: Oh, how I loved this one! A man who might otherwise be the villain of the story completely — ok, not so completely — redeemed by love. Complex and twisty and so enjoyable. This series just keeps getting better!
THE STORY: Jane Mason is trapped by her uncle who intends to marry her to his son in order to control her fortune. Condemned to suppress all her personality behind a meek exterior, Jane desperately wants to evade her uncle’s plots. Mr. Crispin Burke is a ruthless man who intends to be prime minister. He will do anything to protect his alliance with Jane’s uncle — even if that means destroying Jane’s own chances. A blackmailed bargain and a murder attempt ends up with the two being married, but when she gains control of her fortune, will Jane be able to leave the man she hated…but for whom she has begun to care?
OPINION: This book is so wonderful but so difficult to describe without giving away the twists and turns which make the book sing.
The book begins with a hero who seems completely irredeemable. He is ambitious to the exclusion of all else and exceedingly immoral. He will bribe, blackmail, and deal in all types of corruption in order to succeed. He will be Prime Minister and he will do anything to accomplish that feat. Crispin threatens the heroine and blackmails her into doing his bidding. Even when he knows that Jane is desperately mistreated and willing to do almost anything to free herself…he ignores her plight except to the extent that it can benefit himself. Jane has known Crispin for years and she knows that he is a ruthless and immoral man.
“Power made a fine panacea for any number of old aches. It would be revenge and pleasure and comfort rolled up into one.”
While Crispin appears a lost cause as the book begins, a twist of fate strips him of his invulnerability and leaves him open to change. An attempt on his life leaves him with no memory of the evils he has done or the reasons for them. Jane, now married to Crispin, knows the man he was, but finds herself falling in love with the man he is now. The fear and drama of the story is that neither knows what will happen to them if Crispin remembers the man he was.
Jane is a woman who is struggling for independence. A beloved daughter who was valued for her intellect and opinions, she has begun to lose herself under the oppression of her uncle. Yet she is determined to free herself. Her stubborn and powerful will for freedom allows her to make a decision which will change her life and Crispin’s as well.
The tension in this book is tightly drawn because as the two attempt to discover who attempted to kill Crispin, they must explore who Crispin was and what he was up to. The danger of every revelation is that is might trigger Crispin’s memories and the return of the man that Jane knows she cannot help but hate. Something else happens as the two make their discoveries…the reasons for Crispin’s heartless pursuit of power become clear and perhaps provides a more sympathetic portrait of the villain at the beginning of the book.
What I loved most about this book is that its core message becomes one of understanding and acceptance that love requires. Crispin is not all bad and we learn that Jane is not all that good. People have flaws and weaknesses. Those flaws can make us the heroes of the story as we overcome their influence on our lives and protect against the damage they may do, or they can make us hard and indeed the villain of our own story. Both Crispin and Jane are more complex than they appeared at the beginning of the book. By the end, they both see one another clearly and as a whole fallible person.
That brings me to the chemistry between Jane and Crispin which is blistering hot. The two seem to relish the intellectual battle of wills as enemies which leads to sexy encounters even as their antipathy diminishes. I loved these two together, couldn’t put the book down and really didn’t want the book to end. In fact, as the book ended, I couldn’t help but hope we might see more of them in future books.
This might be my favorite book in the series and I really, really liked the last one. Now I have to read both again to compare!
WORTH MENTIONING: Oh, I hope we get to read more about Lockwood!
CONNECTED BOOKS: LADY’S CODE OF MISCONDUCT is the fifth book in the Rules for the Reckless series. This book does not rely on any other book in the series and can be read as a complete standalone. This book also has a glancing connection to the standalone THE DUKE OF SHADOWS as LADY’S CODE OF MISCONDUCT refers to Lord Lockwood’s disappearance. Lockwood is a character in THE DUKE OF SHADOWS.
STAR RATING: I give this book 5 stars.
NOTE: I received an ARC of this book via Netgalley in order to provide a review. I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions contained herein are my own.