Serving as the advice columnist, ‘Miss Busy B.’, for an often-subversive ladies’ magazine is the perfect outlet for Daphne Burke’s outspoken nature. But when she advises a young lady of the ton, to break off her engagement to a notorious rake, the consequences take Daphne beyond the page and into her real life.
Miles, Viscount Deveraux, sometimes known as “that devil Deveraux”needs a respectable bride by the end of the Season, and he’s bet a fortune that he can get one. Now, his fiancée has not only changed her mind—but done it publicly, in a letter to London’s most infamous magazine. With the stakes high and time short, it seems reasonable to him that the columnist responsible should come to his rescue and marry him instead.
Fortunately for Miles, Daphne is eager to escape the pressures of the London marriage mart. She agrees to a courtship. But at the end of two weeks, she intends to turn him down in a big, splashy, scandal that will ruin her reputation and set her free. There’s just one shocking wrinkle: Who knew being ruined by a rake could be so much fun?
I've been a fan of Susanna Craig since reading her debut novel, To Kiss a Thief, back in 2016. Impeccably researched, Craig's books immerse me in historical settings and events that frame character-driven stories that keep me turning pages until well past the time I should be asleep. From London to Dublin to rural and coastal English villages, and even a Caribbean island, she creates atmospheric pictures with her words that are many times just as critical to the story as her characters.
In The Lady Knows Best, Craig has brought together one of my favorite plot devices: a strong-minded heroine (with more worth than she believes) and a charming rake (with more depth than anyone believes), brought together in a courtship of convenience. Daphne and Miles both have their reasons for entering their devilish bargain, though it's clear from the start that love is not of interest to either of them. Of course, we all know that will change but it's how the changes come about that kept me turning pages.
I adored these two. They are both much more than what they allow society to see and, in Daphne's case, what she allows herself to see. I was cheering her on as she finally began to realize her worth. She had so much to offer but was the last person to recognize that. I loved how Miles encouraged and supported her, how he saw beyond her mask to the full person within. And speaking of masks, Miles was so much more than society - and Daphne - first thought. He captured my heart as surely as he captured Daphne's. It was fun to watch these two slowly reveal themselves to one another, gaining respect, understanding, and love along the way. The epilogue, especially, cemented for me how well Miles understood, respected, and loved Daphne for all she was and how much Daphne had come to enjoy his rakish ways, now devoted solely to her. I see much laughter and joy in their future. I hope we see them again. I haven't had nearly enough of them.
Secondary characters were delightful additions to this story, especially Miles' grandmother and his best friend, Alistair (Earl of Ryland). I do hope we'll be seeing more of him in a future book. As a fan of Craig's Rogues and Rebels series, it was a fun surprise to discover that the heroine of The Lady Knows Best is none other than Daphne Burke, the younger sister of the Irish Burke siblings who starred in the Rogues and Rebels books. It isn't necessary to have read those books to enjoy this one but following Daphne's journey to love - and catching up with her siblings and their partners - is a special treat for those of us who first met her as a little girl.