My Wicked Marquess is the first book in Gaelen Foley’s new series, The Inferno Club.
Max St. Albans, the Marquess of Rotherstone, has arrived back on English soil after years of fighting against the evil Promethean Council. He is ready to take up his post as Lord Rotherstone, marry, and restore his family’s honor. To that end, he needs the perfect wife: a lady of good humor, sweet, kind, and certain to obey his every whim. Instead, Max finds himself falling head over heels for the Honorable Miss Daphne Starling.
Daphne has recently turned down a marriage proposal and her reputation is suffering, which in turn is hurting her efforts to create a new children’s orphanage in a better part of town. It is there that she first lays eyes on Max, as he haphazardly (or so it seems) rescues her from some ruffians. And when she sees him again at a ball, she feels an instant connection with him.
As he begins to court her, that connection grows, but Max has secrets he will never tell her and she knows it. She wants an invitation to the deepest part of his heart, but he keeps turning her away, and Daphne will not marry for anything but love.
Max is a member of The Inferno Club and holds secrets that could get Daphne killed if she ever discovered the truth. But as Max is coming to realize, he will lose Daphne forever if he does not share his past with her.
The best parts of this story are when the focus is on Daphne and Max’s budding relationship. Both of these characters are stubborn and proud and both are madly in love, though they hesitate to acknowledge it for different reasons. I really enjoyed Max’s courtship and Daphne’s cautious optimism that she had finally met a man she could respect and love, and who would respect and love her in turn.
Unfortunately, this book suffers from the spy plot syndrome which does nothing for this story except give Max an excuse to have a lot of emotional baggage. Perhaps the Inferno Club will become better integrated with the plot in future books, but in My Wicked Marquess it was the portions of the story that held the least interest.
The romance is spot-on, the sensuality is off the charts, and Gaelen Foley showcases her wonderful ability to recreate the nineteenth century in My Wicked Marquess. You may skim the Promethean/Inferno Club plot points, but you will certainly be eagerly reading every word of Daphne and Max’s tumultuous courtship.