My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This is the first book on my Top 10 List of historical romance novels. I’m not reviewing the books in any particular order, but I have to say that Madeline Hunter’s Dangerous in Diamonds leapt into my head for my first review for several reasons. One, I love all Madeline Hunter’s books. Two, I have to say that Castleford just might be my ultimate hero. Three, the book has an exciting, rich story to go along with its two interesting lead characters.
I love Castleford. He reminds me of the Duke of Avon in These Old Shades. Oh, they are not alike in personality, of course, but they are alike in that they behave the way I would hope a real duke might behave. Powerful, decisive, and determined. Oh, and handsome. And clever. And a sophisticated lover. And–well, you get the point.
Like Hunter’s other novels, there is actually some history to go along with the romance. The story takes place in the midst of violent social unrest that adds a dimension of immediacy and physical danger (which I don’t want to give away) to the novel.
While Britain undergoes a post-War personality shift Daphne and the Duke of Castleford are engaged in their own struggles. Daphne doesn’t want to become yet another of Castleford’s many women, and he, not surprisingly, is intrigued by any woman who doesn’t leap into bed with him.
Neither is exactly what they appear on the surface and discovering exactly who they are is both fascinating and page-turning.
I’ve re-read the book 3 times and still laugh out loud whenever Hunter gives the reader a peek inside the duke’s head. He is so arrogant there should be another word in the dictionary just for him. But he is also clever, thoughtful, and surprisingly aware of the thoughts and behaviors of those around him.
I believe Daphne is is perfect foil and her strong, silent, and determined personality thwart Castleford in a way that is more believable than any head-on confrontation would be. She is a woman of her time and works within the limitations that were once imposed on our gender. She is a heroine who maintains her dignity.
I find the way Hunter depicts the development of their relationship particularly compelling. I love how there is some distance between the characters right up to the end. He is a duke. I would imagine one does not start calling a duke by his Christian name within a day of knowing him. I like that Hunter maintains this distinction because I believe it is part of who Castlford is and would not be easily shed.
What I love even more than Hunter’s great characterization, interesting story, and swoony romance is the fact she doesn’t transform Castleford into something unrecognizable by the end of the book. No, instead he remains himself. Which doesn’t mean he is unchanged, not at all. Like any romance hero he has to make choices that will ultimately show he puts his love for his heroine above everything else in his life. But he is not so altered by the process the he isn’t still Castleford.
This is the fourth book in the quartet, but I inadvertently read it first. Immediately after finishing it I bought the others. While I love the first three and admire how each story is distinct, Dangerous in Diamonds is my favorite among Hunter’s books.