Mon
Jul 20 2015 9:30am

First Look: Meredith Duran’s Lady Be Good (July 28, 2015)

Lady Be Good by Meredith Duran

Meredith Duran
Lady Be Good (Rules for the Reckless #3)
Pocket Books / July 28, 2015 / $7.99 print, $6.99 digital

The third searing novel in the Rules for the Reckless series by Meredith Duran, the USA TODAYbestselling author of sexy and evocative Regency romances in the tradition of Sarah MacLean.

CATCHING THE LADY RED-HANDED
Born to a family of infamous criminals, Lilah Marshall has left behind her past and made herself into the perfect lady. Working as a hostess at Everleigh's, London’s premier auction house, she leads a life full of art, culture, and virtue. All her dreams are within reach—until a gorgeous and enigmatic viscount catches her in the act of one last, very reluctant theft.

CHASING ONE RED-HOT PASSION
Christian “Kit” Stratton, Viscount Palmer, is society's most dashing war hero. But Kit’s easy smiles hide a dark secret: he is haunted by a madman’s vow to destroy anyone he loves. When his hunt for the enemy leads to Everleigh’s Auction Rooms, he compels Lilah to help him. But one tempting touch may be their undoing—for what Kit needs threatens all Lilah holds dear, and losing her may destroy Kit.

In Meredith Duran's Lady Be Good when we first meet Lily Monroe, she isn’t yet Lilah Marshall, glamorous hostess at the prestigious Everleigh Auction Rooms. She is, however, the aristocracy of London’s underworld, niece of the fearfully respected Nicholas O’Shea, and an accomplished thief in her own right. She’s done with that, though, or she will be, once she carries out this last theft and secures a respectable future for herself and her beloved sister. Noble goals, Lily, but things are never that easy in Chapter 1. Though Lily swears this is her last job, it’s not, and, four years later, she’s preparing for an even bigger job. Her last one, of course, she swears.

When we first meet Christian Stratton, he’s already famed as the Hero of Bekhole, celebrated military man who pulled off a daring victory in India, and Viscount Palmer, holder of a respected English title. Neither of which is much use to at the mercy of General Bolkhov, a renegade Russian who refuses to acknowledge the war is over, or that Christian is not personally responsible for slaughtering Bolkhov’s children he begat on his Afghan female captives. Bolkhov will carry out the ultimate torture; he will slaughter everything and everyone Christian loves. Four years later, Bolkhov’s legacy catches up to him and the adventure begins.

Lily, now reinvented as Lilah Marshall, works as a hostess in Everleigh Auction Rooms, and swears she’s done with thievery after she filches a certain set of letters from the owner’s desk. She’s got plans, our Lilah does. She hasn’t worked this hard to rid herself of her Whitechapel accent and manners to waste it on the life of a common thief. She has her eye on the boss’s job; not Young Pete Everleigh, but his sister, Catherine, an acclaimed beauty and passionate curator. Surely, nobody will miss her if she slips away for a few minutes to do this one last job, not while priceless Russian artifacts are up for bidding.

Of course it’s never that simple. Get in, do the job, get back out may be the plan, but that plan didn’t include a second thief, or the Hero of Bekhole himself. One, Lilah easily foils, but the other, not so much.

Christian is a man on a mission that night at Everleigh. He’s got one eye on Catherine, a most suitable match in more ways than one, one eye on the Russian artifacts, because where there are Russian artifacts, there are sure to be Russians, and then there’s Lilah, who intrigues him far more than the other two put together. While he makes arrangements with Young Pete to have Catherine liquidate antiquities from his ancestral Buckley Hall, and perhaps apply for a more permanent and personal position, Lilah hides beneath the very desk the two men use for their negotiations.

To her horror, Lilah notes she dropped a ribbon in her haste to hide before the men spied her, and even worse, Christian picks it up. He claims it a lover’s token from Catherine, and she thinks she can make a clean getaway, but again, not that simple. Not only does Christian have her over a barrel with the ribbon, he also has the letters Lilah needs to finally break free of Nick and he proposes a deal. Lilah will come to Buckley Hall as Catherine’s assistant, and as matchmaker. She’ll talk Christian up to Catherine, convince her to accept his marriage proposal and then Christian will hand over the letters. This one last job, and then she’s done. Right.

The chemistry between Christian and Lilah not only crackles, it does a finely tuned dance, playing to all of the people each of them are. Hostess, thief, would-be-curator, lady’s companion, Lilah, aka Lily, finds there is more to Christian than merely his title or reptutation, and lest we forget that mad Russian lurking in the background, this is a Meredith Duran book. Nobody is escaping their past without a fight.

Despite Lilah’s best efforts, Catherine falls in love, not with Christian, but with the fabled women of Buckley Hall. Known through the centuries as accomplished artists, scholars, and more, as well as wives and mothers. (note to Meredith Duran – can we have their stories, please? So many centuries of fulfilled heroines; think how long that series could run. Just saying.) It’s Lilah who falls, hard, for the man beneath the gloss of his reputation, and Christian yearns to know Lily as well as Lilah. Their first love scene is heartrending in its intimacy and vulnerability, which sets us up for one doozy of a twist when a betrothal is announced, and Lilah’s not part of it. An oddly staid Christian wants to be strangers now, because different worlds and expectations and all that.

All for her own good, you know, but our girl doesn’t take that lying down. It’s back to her roots to do what she must to save the lives not only of the man she’s come to love, but the difficult boss who has also become her dear friend. When Bolkhov finally makes his move, Lilah and Christian find no price is too high to pay for true love. Secrets shatter as well as make perfect sense, and a happily ever after that once seemed out of reach is more than either Lily/Lilah or Christian could have ever dreamed.

Duran fans will find all they expect between the pages of Lady Be Good, along with some artfully placed surprises. Both Christian and Lilah lead with their heads as well as their hearts, making for another smart, emotional adventure from one of the greats.  

***

Learn more about or order a copy of Lady Be Good by Meredith Duran, available July 28, 2015

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Anna C. Bowling considers writing historical romance the best way to travel through time and make the voices in her head pay rent. She welcomes visitors to her blog, Typing with Wet Nails and to follow her at Twitter.

 

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