(Cover picture courtesy of Michelle Diener’s site.)
The Duke of Wittaker has been living a lie…
He’s been spying on the dissolute, discontented noblemen of the ton, pretending to share their views. Now he’s ready to step out of the shadows and start living a real life…but when the prime minister of England is assassinated, he’s asked to go back to being the rake-hell duke everyone believes he still is to find out more.
Miss Phoebe Hillier has been living a lie, too…
All her life she’s played by society’s rules, hiding her fierce intelligence and love of life behind a docile and decorous mask. All it’s gotten her is jilted by her betrothed, a man she thought a fool, though a harmless one. But when she discovers her former fiancé was involved in the plot against the prime minister, and that he’s been murdered, she realizes he wasn’t so harmless after all.
And now the killers have set their sights on her…
The only man who can help her is the Duke of Wittaker–a man she knows she shouldn’t trust. And she soon realizes he’s hiding behind a mask as careful as her own. As the clock ticks down to the assassin’s trial, the pair scramble to uncover the real conspiracy behind the prime minister’s death. And as the pressure and the danger mounts, Phoebe and Wittaker shed their disguises, layer by layer, to discover something more precious than either imagined–something that could last forever. Unless the conspirators desperate to hide their tracks get to them first.
[Full disclosure: Michelle Diener invited me to review her book and I received a free ebook through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.]
For all that I’m a history buff, I knew absolutely nothing about the period that A Dangerous Madness is set in. I really hardly know anything about England in the 1800s so after finishing Michelle Diener’s latest release I can very honestly say that I learned something.
Phoebe, the main character, is my type of woman. She’s strong and feisty but at the same time is actually aware of social norms and generally tries to follow them. Sure, she gets fed up with them and ends up not caring about certain ones but at least she isn’t your stereotypical total outcast of a heroine. James, the Duke of Wittaker is a good male lead. He’s not your perfect knight in shining armor but he does his best to improve his character when he starts to fall in love. In the past he’s done things he deeply regrets and you can tell that his guilt for some of the things weighs on him but he’s also done quite a bit of good.
The story begins with Phoebe’s fiancé dumping her and fleeing the country and it only heats up from there. Soon the prime minister is shot (which actually happened) and there’s a conspiracy that goes to the highest levels of the country behind the assassination. There are so many twists and turns you can’t tell how things are going to end up because Michelle Diener is so good at writing tales of political intrigue.
I’m not qualified to speak to the historical accuracy of A Dangerous Madness, but as Michelle Diener writes in her historical note, many of the events really did happen as she described them. The conspiracy is pure speculation but at the same time when you look at the real people involved it might not be all that far off from the truth. Perceval had many powerful enemies, that’s for sure! And that’s how historical fiction is best done: mostly history with a little bit of fiction in to spice things up.
Even if you haven’t read the first two books in the Regency London series, you can certainly start with A Dangerous Madness just like I did. They don’t have to be read in any particular order but I still can’t wait to read the first two books because I loved this one so much.
I give this book 5/5 stars.