Published by Pocket Books on February 28th 2017
Purchase: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo
The next steamy historical romance in USA TODAY bestselling and RITA award-winning author Meredith Duran’s “wonderfully indulgent” (Publishers Weekly) Rules for the Reckless series.
A DEAL WITH THE DEVIL... Trapped in the countryside, facing an unwanted marriage and the theft of her fortune, Jane Mason is done behaving nicely. To win her freedom, she’ll strike a deal with the most dangerous man she knows—a rising star in politics, whose dark good looks mask an even darker heart.
...NEVER GOES TO PLAN. The bitter past has taught Crispin Burke to trust no one. He’ll gladly help a lovely young heiress, provided she pays a price. Yet when a single mistake shatters his life, it is Jane who holds the key to his salvation. And in a world that no longer makes sense, Crispin slowly realizes that she may be the only thing worth fighting for...
~~Reviewed by Mary~~
Cogito ergo sum
Meredith Duran has amazed me once again, with a tale centered on the philosophical and political struggle between morality and corruption, villain and hero, complete with two of the most complex characters ever seen in historical romance. To follow Jane and Crispin’s journey into self-discovery, forgiveness, and love is akin to a blind man seeing a rainbow for the first time – it’s startlingly, raw, and irresistibly beautiful.
We begin with Jane Mason, a darling heiress of the most progressive 19th century thoughts and socialism, who is relegated to furniture by her grasping, greedy relatives post the death of her beloved parents. For six years, she has meticulously hidden herself and plotted her escape, only to be foiled by her uncle and his crony, the dangerous Crispin Burke, who blackmails Jane into clearing some obstacles in his way to becoming Prime Minister. This is not an auspicious start, and only when Crispin suffers a severe injury, to awaken having lost the past 5 years of his memory, with Jane claiming to be his wife, does the story truly begin.
The most brilliant part of this book is undeniably the transformation of Crispin Burke, from a ruthless politician embittered by his past, to an honorable man with sound morals seeking to banish his demons once and for all. At the same time, it is more so a journey of self-discovery, to wake up and eventually realize that one is not whom one believed to be, that character can be drastically altered in the span of 5 years. Yet, as Crispin’s memory slowly returns, he faces the task of reconciling his current self with the man he used to be, to only realize that they are both two sides of the same coin. Power is not corrupt by itself, it can be wield for noble ends if one has the means to carry it through – with Jane by his side.
Jane is a fascinatingly complex character. She is cast in the role of a saintly victim, and we are brought to sympathize with her, in her external struggle against evil. She is the embodiment of truth and justice, yet throughout the novel she has deceived just as often as Crispin, and not all for the greater good. But in Crispin, she finds the strength to confront her own flaws, and as their marriage becomes a true partnership, she finds true courage from within herself.
“I fear I won’t have my parents’ strength…to see their plans through. That instead of ignoring the sneers and braving through the wickedness, I will let it embitter me, and give up on the world, and tell myself there is no point to working for others when all I receive is contempt.” (p 151)
Jane and Crispin were initially a juxtaposition, the good and the evil. With Meredith Duran’s subtle, clever layering, these dichotomous elements converge together in a cataclysm of harmony and acceptance that is blinding in its brilliance. The end result? For both to realize that we are all humans, and selfish in spite of ourselves, yet there can be much goodness in each of us if we choose to believe in ourselves.
I thought Fool Me Twice was the height of Duran’s writing, but this book wonderfully proves me wrong. You will be astounded by the intensity of thought and feeling in this book, delighted by its unique and intense political backdrop, and ultimately left awed by the partnering of two souls in forgiveness and happiness.