Short reviews of recently read books that have filled our days...and nights...with reading pleasure.
Duke with Benefits
By Manda Collins
Publisher: St. Martin's
Release Date: June 27, 2017
Reviewed by PJ
Lady Daphne Forsyth is a brilliant mathematician with a burning passion for puzzles. When she learns that the library belonging to her benefactress houses the legendary Cameron Cipher—an encrypted message that, once solved, holds the key to great riches—Daphne is on the case. Unfortunately, her race to unlock the cipher’s code is continually thwarted by a deliciously handsome distraction she hadn’t counted on. . .and cannot resist.
Dalton Beauchamp, the Duke of Maitland, is curious as to why Daphne is spending so much time snooping around his aunt’s bookshelves. He’s even more intrigued by her bold yet calculating manner: She is unapologetic about her secret quest. . .and the fiery attraction that develops between them both. But how can they concentrate on solving a perplexing enigma once the prospect of true love enters the equation?
In this second book in her Studies in Scandal series, Collins turns convention topsy-turvy with an entertaining tale featuring a brilliant but socially inept heroine and a charming, society-darling hero. Add in a clever mystery, a treasure hunt, a villain willing to do anything to get there first, along with a heart-tugging romance, and you have a wonderful story to dive into this summer.
I've always enjoyed Manda Collins' unconventional heroines and Daphne is at the top of my favorites list. Exploited by her father from a young age, Daphne's value has always been tied exclusively to her mathematical genius. With no mother to soften her edges, she's not learned the ins and outs of social interactions and, with no filter in her brain, every honest thought in her mind exits through her mouth, no matter how blunt or rude it may be. She says what she thinks and truly has no understanding why people take exception to her words.
Handsome, charming Dalton is a darling of London society yet the woman who fascinates him isn't a demure, socially accomplished debutante but the highly intelligent, blunt-speaking, puzzle-solving, headstrong woman with whom he is increasingly certain he cannot live without. I love that he recognizes the value in Daphne, not in spite of her intelligence and uniqueness, but because of those qualities and I love that he's determined to protect her and love her while also helping her to lay past demons aside and grow into the woman she's meant to be. I appreciate the growth of both characters throughout this story as well as the genuine bond of friendship formed alongside the passion of their hearts as their relationship gradually deepens.
The mystery is an important component of this book and it's well formed with twists and turns that kept me guessing right up until the reveal. Secondary characters provide a rich backdrop to our main couple, helping to move the story along as well as providing additional insight into their own lives and intriguing glimpses of stories yet to be told.
If you enjoy intelligent stories with unique characters, heartwarming romance, and a twist of mystery, be sure to add Manda Collins' Duke with Benefits to your summer reading list.