by Michelle Diener
Series: Regency London #3
Genres: Historical Fiction, Mystery, Romantic Suspense
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The Duke of Wittaker has been living a lie... He’s been spying on the dissolute, discontented noblemen of the ton, pretending to share their views. Now he’s ready to step out of the shadows and start living a real life...but when the prime minister of England is assassinated, he's asked to go back to being the rake-hell duke everyone believes he still is to find out more. Miss Phoebe Hillier has been living a lie, too... All her life she's played by society's rules, hiding her fierce intelligence and love of life behind a docile and decorous mask. All it's gotten her is jilted by her betrothed, a man she thought a fool, though a harmless one. But when she discovers her former fiancé was involved in the plot against the prime minister, and that he's been murdered, she realizes he wasn't so harmless after all. And now the killers have set their sights on her... The only man who can help her is the Duke of Wittaker--a man she knows she shouldn't trust. And she soon realizes he's hiding behind a mask as careful as her own. As the clock ticks down to the assassin's trial, the pair scramble to uncover the real conspiracy behind the prime minister's death. And as the pressure and the danger mounts, Phoebe and Wittaker shed their disguises, layer by layer, to discover something more precious than either imagined–something that could last forever. Unless the conspirators desperate to hide their tracks get to them first.
I love Michelle Diener’s historical suspense mysteries. They are all based around actual events, with delightful characters and a side dish of romance. A Dangerous Madness is connected to her previous novels; The Emperor’s Conspiracy and Banquet of Lies since we see characters from those novels but all are standalone and can be read in any order.
It is 1812, and the man her father arranged for to marry before his death has just jilted Phoebe Hillier. It was not a love match, but Phoebe has always played by the rules. She soon discovers her ex-fiancé was involved in a plot to a sinister plot. The Duke of Wittaker, a notorious rake and scoundrel to the ton, is actually a spy for the crown. For the first time, he wants to step down but when the prime minister is assassinated, and there is a rush to trial, well duty calls. Phoebe soon finds herself in trouble and turns to the Duke for help. As the two work together, they quickly realize the other has been living a lie. The tale that unfolds is suspenseful with sweet moments, and I found myself lost within its pages.
I love the characters that Diener creates, and Wittaker and Phoebe were delightful. Phoebe who always plays the dutiful daughter is, quite smart. She has wit and does not crumble under stress. I adored how she spoke her thoughts and made her desires clear. Ah, the Duke of Wittaker. Can we just take a moment to say, “Yum?” He is devilish handsome, noble and admittedly lonely. It is hard to lead a double life. He has a commanding presence and is forwarding thinking regarding a female’s intellect making him swoon-worthy. The characters were strong, believable, and I easily connected with them both individually and as a team.
A Dangerous Madness is a suspense woven around historical facts that Diener explains in the back of the book. The way in which she uses real names and events add an authenticity to the tale. All of the secondary characters were colorful and the thread regarding the assassination was fascinating. Diener has us tagging along with Phoebe and Wittaker revealing clues and facts to us. Little side stories about old characters and chefs add interest. The romance is secondary and very clean but oh so charming. There were some hilarious moments as well as sweet, tender ones that made me smile. Once again, Diener delivered, and I closed this novel satisfied.
Fans of historical fiction, suspense and mystery, will enjoy A Dangerous Madness. The romance was sweet and added that perfect touch without bogging down the tale. I have enjoyed all of Diener’s regency era novels and look forward to the next one.