Published by Lyrical Press on June 26th 2018
Purchase: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo
The Shaws are one of Britain's most influential, dynamic families, but one Shaw prefers to keep a low profile. Unfortunately, the limelight can shine behind-the-scenes...
Lady Drusilla Shaw may be a bit introverted, yet she has the observant mind of a writer, capturing all of society's quirks and scandals. But when the novel she's been working on disappears from her room, that is just the beginning of her problems. Confident, magnetic Oliver, Duke of Mountsorrel, has taken an interest in Dru, and when he proposes, she is both thrilled and anxious. Her book depicts a ruinous family story that is uncannily similar to Oliver's real-life, not to mention libelous. The manuscript could surface at any moment—and eventually it does, in published form, for all to read.
Oliver is bewildered by his new wife and her blasted book. Worst of all, how can he love a woman he no longer trusts? But when it becomes obvious that someone is taking their cues from the book in a series of attacks, he has no choice but to stick close to her. Their explosive connection in bed should take care of the heir-making, but for that to happen, Drusilla has to stay alive—and so does Oliver.
~~Reviewed by Amy~~
Sometimes I wonder if authors enjoy instilling anxiety in their readers. Do they giggle when writing scenes they know will make the reader want to scream, jump into the story and set everyone to rights? That’s exactly how I felt in new-to-me-author Lynne Connolly’s Dauntless. It was a good anxiety though since it kept me turning the pages in this lovely story with twists and turns, mystery, danger, and secrets. But to get past all this, the hero and heroine had to first love and forgive. I had my doubts they’d make it through and I have to tell you, the suspense was killing me. In a totally delicious kind of way.
Drusilla Shaw came from a family that skirted scandal because of their wealth and influence. Drusilla was quite the introvert. Unlike her siblings who seemed to live in scandal, Dru only wrote about it. She poured all her dreams into her stories, or as her family called them, her scribbles. She wrote them and then burned them. Knowing her stories would never be read, she let her imagination go. And Dru had a vivid imagination. She “preferred to make fantasy real and draw on the people she loved and the ones she disliked to create something totally impossible but as scurrilous and amusing as she could make it”. Dru could make terrible or wonderful things happen to the characters based on her reaction to them in real life. But while she enjoyed creating these characters based on those around her, she wondered if she would ever meet the man she’d written about all her life. A real-life hero who would make her world shine.
Oliver, Duke of Mountsorrel, usually avoided single eligible ladies. He had too many responsibilities as a duke and caring for his invalid brother, Charles. But to appease his mother, Oliver was making a half-hearted attempt to find a wife. A mature female with sense and gravity. A sensible, amenable partner to provide heirs, share some of his duties, and help with Charles. He certainly didn’t need a woman from a family like Drusilla Shaw’s. Yet there was no denying the desire that swept over him when they met.
Dru was quite taken with Oliver as well. He scrambled her senses but his unmistakable air of command made her feel safe and secure. Dru was an avid reader of books her mother would never approve. With Oliver, she was eager to experience some of what she’d read in those books. Oliver felt rather eager too. He liked Dru’s outlook and her tart remarks. And he certainly couldn’t deny his body’s reaction nor the lurid thoughts that filled his head. Their feelings for each other fascinated and alarmed them both. Was it just attraction or could it be more? Oliver didn’t want anyone to have control of his emotions. He had too many responsibilities. He needed to keep his head.
Needless to say, they were soon engaged. But when Dru’s newest manuscript is stolen and published, it could destroy everything. Not only does the story resemble much of Oliver’s family, someone is attempting to recreate some of the more sinister scenes, putting Dru and Oliver in danger. And Oliver has no idea who the author is. For Dru, keeping a secret for life from her husband did not appeal but losing him would be worse.
As I said earlier, this book made me want to jump in and fix everything. There were times I wanted to shake Oliver and Dru. Oliver reminded me of my husband. One minute I wanted to kiss him and the next I wanted to give him a swift kick in the rear. Oliver guarded his privacy and expected honesty. He was hurt by Dru’s actions so acted coldly and said some hurtful things, but also at times he treated her tenderly. He wanted to get past it but he wasn’t sure how. He wanted to maintain a wall of indifference but he found himself softening. While his emotions and actions were believable and understandable, he needed to get past the guilt he carried over his brother and learn to trust. Dru caused me anxiety as well. She felt guilty for her actions and wanted to atone for them. But Oliver’s indifference kept her from speaking in her own defence at times. I wanted to jump in and make him listen. I had to keep reminding myself that they still knew so little of each other and had to build their trust. Dru was definitely the dauntless one. As much as she was hurt by Oliver’s actions, she was determined to prove her love for him. She wasn’t a doormat by any means, but she wanted and deserved forgiveness.
This was a fast-paced and, at times, adrenaline-charged read. I have to say, I found myself eyeballing more than one character trying to figure out whodunit. The love scenes were steamy and truly showed how perfect Dru and Oliver were for each other and how deeply they loved each other. Even if they didn’t quite see it yet. There were even some humorous moments. I loved how Dru’s books were her own personal literary voodoo doll. And I couldn’t stop chuckling through Oliver’s proposal. I think that’s when I fell in love with him. I enjoyed how the intricacies of their relationship and the mystery of the manuscript slowly unfurled. In spite of all my angst, the danger and romance resolved beautifully. I’m hoping in future books, we’ll discover Dru has become a famous author. While part of a series I’ve never read, this was easily read as a standalone. I’ll definitely be reading the earlier books in the series though as I want to know more about those infamous Shaws. Especially Darius.