Disgraced by His Grace!
Frederick, Duke of Falconwood, has vowed never to marry, instead dedicating himself to protecting his country. But when he's caught in a very compromising position with a coquettish debutante, Freddy does the only thing that will salvage her reputation -- he proposes marriage!
Even though Minette Rideau craves the stoic duke's touch, she knows she can't become his wife. For giving in to her desires will reveal a shameful secret, putting much more than her virtue in jeopardy…
Good mix of romance and mystery. Minette is a young Frenchwoman being launched in society by her sister and her sister's English husband. But it comes to her attention that a man from her past is back in England and has something of hers that could ruin the lives of her family. She know that she can't retrieve it herself without the help of Freddy, Duke of Falconwood. But getting to him in order to ask for that help proves to be difficult.
Freddy is a man with a past that haunts him. He has vowed never to marry and instead uses his time and talents to his intelligence work for the government. There is one French agent that he is determined to catch, one who has proved very elusive. When Minette comes to him for help, telling him that she has information on the whereabouts of the man Moreau, he feels compelled to help. But Minette's price - being involved in the search - may be too high.
I loved these two together. They've known each other for several years, through her sister and brother-in-law, who is Freddy's best friend. There have been sparks between them, being exhibited by their constant sniping at each other. That has been their way of dealing with the attraction, denial by distraction. Minette may be fairly young, but she has been through a lot and has a great deal of independence and strength of will. She is not afraid to go after what she wants, and her way of getting Freddy's attention was pretty creative. Freddy is horrified, and determined to protect her, whether she wants him to or not. Their negotiations for their joint mission are full of tension, but they do reach an agreement. One thing that comes to the forefront is the attraction that burns between them, one that Freddy is determined to resist.
But that resistance is fragile at best when they are alone together, and when they are caught in a compromising situation Freddy proposes marriage. He never wanted to marry, but now that he hasn't got the choice, he finds that he's not as upset as he thought he'd be. However, he is still quite determined to keep control over himself. Minette, on the other hand, is not happy. She would love to be married to him for real, but there are things in her past that make her completely unsuitable to be a duke's wife. She's determined to set him free as soon as they complete their mission.
Their common goal and public engagement force them to spend a lot of time together. The attraction continues to grow, but so do their feelings. Freddy's reasons for not wanting to marry begin to fade under Minette's determined attentions, but getting her to agree is a challenge. Minette loves Freddy too much to saddle him with a wife who is so unsuitable for the role. I did love Minette's treatment of Freddy's mother, whose attitude toward Freddy could be blamed for most of the way he felt about himself. It will take both of them trusting the other and letting their past mistakes go before they can hope to have a life together. The ending was pretty emotional as both take that chance on each other and risk their hearts. I especially liked Minette's insight that helped Freddy see the truth of what happened.
The search for Moreau was well done. I liked the slow revealing of bits of the backstory as their efforts progressed. It was really fun to see the way that Minette refused to be shut out, though there were a couple times she took some pretty big risks. I enjoyed the scene in the tavern, and seeing the back and forth between she and Freddy. Though her refusal to stay where it was safe frustrated him, Freddy ended up respecting her efforts and abilities. Though there was quite a buildup, Moreau's capture was a little bit of an anticlimax for me, as it wasn't as intense as I expected. I had begun to suspect what the big secret was, but the focus of Moreau's plan did surprise me.