"A witty and provocative Regency Romance!"
Reviewed by Audrey Lawrence
Posted May 21, 2020
An unknown man breaks into her home and now he has the audacity to ask her to untie him. . . so he can give her some good news! Who is this uncommon thief? He is definitely handsome, but what is he up to? Still, there is something about him that intrigues Minerva Hepplewhite. Then, he tells her a small fortune is hers, courtesy of the late Duke of Hollinburgh.
Minerva is in shock! Why would a duke leave her money? Her own money supply is getting low and she could use it to support herself and Beth, her former servant and now a faithful member of their small “family” along with Jeremy, Beth’s son. Her goal has always been to support them as they supported her, but inheriting money was the furthest thing from her mind. Could she dare go to the lawyer to claim the inheritance?
The intruder, Chase Radnor, claims not to be a thief, nor a runner, and says he is, in fact, a gentleman who handles discreet inquiries. Can she trust what he says? For her part, Minerva has a few things in her past that she doesn’t want to come to light. If they did, it could be very dangerous for her.
Well known for her skills as a romance writer, the talented Madeline Hunter is the author of HEIRESS FOR HIRE, the first book in her A Duke’s Heiress series that is lining up to be a wickedly funny series about three women inheriting money from an aging, eccentric duke.
While HEIRESS FOR HIRE is totally intriguing as a stand-alone novel, I am definitely looking forward to reading more in this latest series. There are concerns the old duke did not die from a fall but may have been murdered. The hunt to solve the mysteries of the bequests and the possible murder of the duke provide a great backdrop to the slow budding of a thorn and roses romance between Minerva and Chase as they investigate if the other can be trusted, competing with rapier-sharp wit and brilliant flashes of humour.
I fully enjoyed the feistiness and independence of Minerva, especially as her background and maturity are slowly revealed. Hunter is very effective in writing about issues affecting women, such as domestic abuse and women’s place in society, that are both historical and contemporary at the same time. Chase is also a delightful as starts to fall for Minerva while still striving to be loyal to his role as an investigator and a lookout for his brother, the new duke.
If you are a romance reader who relishes a well-researched historical novel and is new to Madeline Hunter, HEIRESS FOR HIRE is a great place to start your investigation. Hunter’s many fans will also be eager to get their hands on this latest novel. So, get your copy and enjoy your own discreet inquiry!
In this stunning series debut from New York Times bestselling author Madeline Hunter, a duke’s mysterious bequest brings fortune—and passion—to three young women . . .
Minerva Hepplewhite has learned the hard way how to take care of herself. When an intruder breaks into her home, she doesn’t swoon or simper. Instead she wallops the rogue over the head and ties him up—only to realize he is Chase Radnor, a gentleman and grandson of a lord, and a man who makes it his business to investigate suspicious matters. Now he’s insisting that Minerva has inherited a fortune from his uncle, a wealthy duke. Only one thing could surprise her more: her sudden attraction to this exasperating man . . .
Chase can’t decide whether Minerva is a wronged woman or a femme fatale. Either way, he’s intrigued. Maddeningly, with her unexpected inheritance, she has set up a discreet detective business to rival Chase’s own. She may be the perfect person to help him uncover the truth about his uncle’s demise. But as proximity gives way to mutual seduction, Chase realizes he craves a much deeper alliance . . .
Did you kill him?
The voice spoke in his head vaguely, as if traveling through distance and fog. Not as the voice of his conscience, the way he so often heard the question. A different voice now. A female one.
I doubt it. Help me here.
He looks dead to me.
I promise that he isn’t dead. Now, take this and hold it while I . . .
A bit clearer now. Closer. So close it made his head bang with pain. Each word created a hammer blow. The more words, the more blows, and the closer they sounded.
I should call Jeremy to come here.
We do not need Jeremy. See?
Bad enough already, without that.
We are not the ones at fault here. Hold the lamp closer, so I can make sure it is safe. Wait, give the lamp to me . . . This is no ordinary thief, from the looks of him.
What are you doing with that?
Bam, bam, bam.
Bringing him around so I can find out who he is and why he is here.
The fog disappeared, washed away by an onslaught of liquid that forced him back to full consciousness. He tipped his tongue out to lick some drips on his lips. Not water. Wine.
He did not open his eyes right away. He spent a few moments accommodating the pain screaming on his scalp. His legs felt strange and his arms hurt. He tried to move both and could not. He realized they were both tied behind him, and together, bowing his body. Someone had trussed him like a sheep, only backward.
He opened his eyes to see the end of a pistol mere inches from his head. His gaze traveled up the arm that held it, until he looked into the furious dark eyes of a very handsome dark-haired woman. She held the pistol like she knew how to use it. Her bright gaze said she hoped he gave her a good reason to.
Hell. Tonight was not progressing at all the way he had planned.
* * *
“He looks to be coming to,” Beth said. She raised the bed warmer as if to give another blow.
“Put it down. He is tied and I have my pistol.”
“He looks big. The ropes may not hold him. He may overpower you. I should be ready just in case.”
“He will not attack me.” He had indeed come to. His long lashes moved. After a moment he strained against the bonds. Minerva waited for him to accommodate his situation.
His garments appeared very high quality. Blood now stained a cravat once pristine and crisp. His face might be called handsome if not for the strong bones that made the angles more severe than now fashionable. Something about him made her inner sense send out warnings that prickled her spine. He appeared to be a wealthy gentleman and . . . official. Whatever his reason for entering this house, it had not been to steal a few shillings.
Various reactions assaulted her while she trained her pistol on his harshly handsome face. Fear. Vulnerability. She experienced a surge of the unsettled spirit that had plagued her for over a year once, and that she thought she had banished forever.
Finally those lashes rose. Sapphire eyes focused on her pistol, then his gaze moved up until he looked right into her eyes. He again strained at the ties that bound him.
“Minerva Hepplewhite, I presume? My name is Chase Radnor. I apologize for the lack of a proper introduction.”
Beth sucked in her breath. “Odd for a thief to be so particular about etiquette and such.”
Except he was not a thief, was he?
“You can untie me,” Radnor said. “I never take chances with pistols, and I am not a danger in any case.”
“You are an intruder. I intend to leave you like that while I swear down information against you,” Minerva said.
“If you do it will come to naught and will only delay my mission. Now, untie me. I have something important to tell you that will explain why I am here.”
She hated how that provoked her curiosity, and also her trepidation. He might tell her that the investigation into Algernon’s death had been revived. Then again, he might reveal that at long last the poacher involved in that accident had been found. Or he might tell her that he had come to take her to gaol.
She collected herself. It was foolish to build monsters out of this stranger’s presence. There had been nothing to indicate he knew about her former identity and life.
“Explain yourself first.” She leveled the pistol firmly. “I am not inclined to trust a housebreaker.”
He gave one furious tug on the ties behind his back. He narrowed his eyes. “I have come to inform you of something that benefits you significantly.”
“What is that?”
“You have inherited some money. A large amount of it.”
Heiress for Hire copyright 2020 Madeline Hunter Excerpt
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