My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Determined to solidify her position as London’s most gifted and creative dressmaker, Marcelline Noirot sets her sights on designing the wedding trousseau of the Duke of Clevedon’s intended bride. All she has to do is convince the duke, which is no easy task given both his reluctance to marry as well as his penchant for seducing beautiful women. When the two meet, however, sparks fly and Marcelline realizes that her ambition might just be her downfall.
Not the strongest beginning to a series. The basic premise requires a great deal of suspension of disbelief; the details on the characters backgrounds are too slow in coming and the romance is bland.
Marcelline’s wit and intelligence are very engaging, and her honesty with regard to her intentions thankfully prevents the annoying keeping secrets and silly misunderstanding tropes. Nevertheless, she also comes across as self-aggrandizing and materialistic, and her relationship with Clevedon is problematic. He is pompous, self-absorbed and superficial, and the undercurrents of cheating in their romance is a turn off.
The secondary characters are far more appealing and the hints at a love/hate connection between Longmore and Sophy are intriguing. Lucie is also a sweetheart and the scenes with her shenanigans are some of the best in the book. The “industrial espionage” subplot adds an extra element of suspense and tension that is quite enjoyable.
All in all, the characters are not all that likable, but Chase’s writing style is entertaining and the premise for the next book is compelling enough to continue.