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Season for Scandal #3

Between the Devil and the Duke

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Their love was always in the cards.
He should have thrown her out. But when club owner Alexander Lavoie catches a mysterious blonde counting cards at his vingt-et-un table, he's more intrigued than angry. He has to see more of this beauty—in his club, in his office, in his bed. But first he'll have to devise a proposition she can't turn down.

Gossip said he was an assassin.
Common sense told her to stay away. But Angelique Archer was desperate, and Lavoie's club offered a surefire way to make quick money—until she got caught. Instead of throwing her out though, the devil offers her a deal: come work for him. Refusing him means facing starvation, but with a man so sinfully handsome and fiercely protective, keeping things professional might prove impossible.

319 pages, Mass Market Paperback

First published January 31, 2017

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About the author

Kelly Bowen

18 books1,160 followers
Award-winning author Kelly Bowen attended the University of Manitoba, earning a BSc & MSc in veterinary studies. She worked as a research scientist before realizing her dream to write historical fiction. Currently, Kelly lives with her family in Winnipeg, Canada.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 394 reviews
Profile Image for Stacey.
1,447 reviews1,162 followers
February 7, 2017

***IT'S ALIVE***

Ladies and gentlemen…we have a WINNER!!

I have a confession…I normally prefer my hero in a historical romance to be the stuck up, snobby aristocrat who looks down his nose at…the commoners. I get a kick out of their arrogance and bossiness. Their confidence, to me, sends shivers up my spine. Well, I’ve been proven wrong. It seems I can be stimulated by a confident commoner just as much…if not more.

I LOVED Between the Devil and the Duke. To be honest, I should probably remove a half a star because the title has absolutely nothing to do with the story. I’m sure I could sorta, kinda come up with an explanation that could maybe explain it but that may be using my imagination a wee bit. Besides that, I thought this book was practically perfect.

It’s not a secret that I love historical romance. For me, it’s like stepping into another world. Comportment is a lady’s top priority and pride is ranked up there for a gentleman. In Between the Devil and the Duke, we see a different side and different priorities. The lady (our heroine) has a brain…and she uses it too. Our gentleman is not a lord but he holds a lot of power. He’s in the know and uses his knowledge as power and that power has made him a very rich man.

Angelique’s family is of the highest ranking. Unfortunately, their good name does not fill their coffers. Angelique’s parents are both dead and with them the secret to where their vast fortune has disappeared. Her brother, the Marquess, has become a wastrel of the worse sort and has left Angelique to fill the coffers and provide enough funds to keep their 12-year-old twin brothers at school. This is a lot of responsibility for a woman who, because of her position in society, is not supposed to work. This impedes her ability to generate funds…she’s going to have to go incognito…

Alex owns a gaming hell and is intrigued by the buxom lady who wins game after game at his tables. He’s positive she’s not cheating but she has complete control in every game. His fascination leads him to keep a close eye on her. On one of the nights she attends, a patron, who loses badly to her, gets a little handsy and he can’t stop himself from interceding and coming to her rescue. Funny thing is…she doesn’t seem to want his help. Mmmm…even more intriguing.

What follows is a very entertaining story full of intrigue, dedication to family commitments and lust. Alex and Angelique are intelligent and strong-minded. They are attracted to each other but uncertain whether their social positions would allow a relationship to form. Alex tells himself he’s not the sort of man to fall in love. Angelique thinks her burdens are too much to lump on a good man. In the end, none of those things matter. It turns out that when the chips are down, your social standings mean nothing and your true friends will be standing by your side, not pushing you out the door.

Honestly, Kelly Bowen is becoming one of my favourite authors in historical romance. She doesn’t mind showing a lady has intelligence and not afraid to use it to get ahead. What’s even better, her heroes adore their heroines more for it. I love her heroes. They are not cookie cutter historical romance heroes. These guys don’t follow the rules and could care less what society thinks of them. All of her characters are unique and I never know what’s going to happen next.

Between the Devil and the Duke was a WINNER for me. I love this series and each instalment seems to get better. They are all connected by Chegarre & Associates…but I’m not telling you how…but I will tell you that you can definitely read them as a standalone. I say that, but I feel fairly confident in saying that once you’ve read one, you will want to read them all.


I’m an Aussie chick who loves to read and review romance, drink coffee, be a Style Setter and stalk David Gandy. To see more of my reviews, fashion, food and pervathons -

Profile Image for Caz.
2,621 reviews994 followers
March 21, 2017
I've given this an A- at AAR, so thats 4.5 stars rounded up.

Kelly Bowen is one of the best of the bunch of new authors of historical romance to have emerged in the last couple of years, and she continues to show herself more than deserving of the praise her novels have received. I’ve reviewed a few and rated them highly, impressed by her ability to craft strong plotlines and characters, and to imbue her dialogue with unforced humour and realism. Best of all, she writes a strong, well-developed romance that sizzles with sexual tension while also showing the protagonists becoming emotionally intimate. Her current Season for Scandal series makes use of an unusual premise, and, in the last two books (Duke of My Heart and A Duke to Remember), she’s allowed her heroines to positively shine as independent, intelligent women who make their own rules while continuing to live within the bounds set by society. Not for Ms. Bowen the curl-tossing, foot-stamping, annoying “feisty” heroine; no, her ladies are clever, pragmatic, determined, and – when called for – devious; qualities which make them irresistibly attractive to their heroes, men who are secure enough in their masculinity to be able to appreciate their unique talents.

In Between the Devil and the Duke, the third book in the series, we meet Lady Angelique Archer, a young woman carrying the weight of her family’s responsibilities on her slim shoulders. Her father, the Marquess of Hutton, died recently in a carriage accident, but left very little money to his four children; and her older brother, the new marquess, is very quickly spending what little there is on drink, women, gambling and dodgy investments. Angelique is at her wit’s end. Her younger twin brothers risk being kicked out of Harrow if she can’t find the money to pay their fees; the household bills are mounting and she has already sold everything of value that isn’t nailed down. Her brother shows no sign of relinquishing his dissolute – and expensive – lifestyle, so it’s up to her to find a solution. While she’s very beautiful, Angelique never “took” during her one season, acquiring herself a reputation as The Marble Maiden owing to her inability to dance or make small talk or display any of the accomplishments required of a débutante. So given that reputation and that her current state of impoverishment is unlikely to remain a secret for long, marrying money is not an option. Not that she wants to sell herself off to the highest bidder anyway. An almost-betrothal to one of her brother’s closest friends, was a near escape and it’s one she has no wish to repeat.

We met Alexander Lavoie in Duke of My Heart, and learned that he is a partner in Chagarre and Associates, the business run by Ivory Moore (now Duchess of Alderidge), which is one of the best kept secrets in London.  The firm specialises in fixing the seemingly disastrous and making scandal disappear, and is discreet, efficient and very expensive.  Alex is also the proprietor of a highly successful gaming establishment, and thus very well placed to learn the sorts of secrets in which the firm trades. Rumoured to have been both a spy and an assassin, he is charming, clever, manipulative, and dangerously sexy – but completely unprepared for the sudden fascination he experiences for the anonymous woman playing quietly at the vingt-et-un table who wins a lot more than she loses.

She hasn’t gone unnoticed by him on her previous visits, but on this particular night, she is on the receiving end of some unwelcome attention from one of the men at her table, so Alex steps in to politely but firmly encourage him to desist. Alex is already curious about her – she obviously knows what she’s doing at the card table, but isn’t blatant about it; she loses small amounts, wins large ones and knows how to use her physical assets to distract a man and put him off his game.

When Alex realises that behind Angelique’s lovely exterior lies a brilliant mathematical mind, he offers her a job. He can tell that she’s not at his club for fun or to indulge in the thrill of the forbidden; she needs the money, but he doesn’t know why, and is determined to ferret out the truth. He knows a woman in trouble when he sees one; and when he encounters her brother and two of his inebriated friends, he begins to have an inkling of its source.

The story that follows is well-plotted and nicely paced, as Alex and Angelique – with the help of Ivory and Max – start to piece together the truth concerning the late marquess’ finances, uncovering a trail of smuggling, blackmail and murder. It’s an intriguing and thoroughly entertaining story, and I was completely caught up in it and anxious to know what was going to happen next.

The romance is very well done, too. The sparks fly between Angelique and Alex right from the start; the tension between them at their first meeting is thick enough to be cut with a knife and the connection between them is intense. I love a smitten hero in a romance, and there’s no doubt that Alex is well and truly bowled over by Angelique – but what I loved even more is that while he’s undoubtedly physically attracted to her, he’s just as wowed by her mental acuity. Following on from his offer of employment, Angelique presents him with a proposal as to how she can maximise the profits from her vingt-et-un table – and for Alex, it’s a real coup de foudre; he is “rather afraid he had just fallen in love.”

Angelique is just as strongly attracted to Alex, although her experience with the men in her life who were supposed to look after her and didn’t – her father, her brother – makes her understandably cautious about trusting anyone but herself. She tries to keep Alex out, but his kindness and his persistence gradually break down her barriers until she realises she can trust him absolutely. They are a very well-matched couple, not just mentally, but in the way they are able to provide something the other has been missing. Alex encourages Angelique to be herself in a way that nobody else ever has and I really enjoyed watching her self-confidence blossom as the result of his love and acceptance; and Alex, who has preferred to remain aloof and never shared much of himself with anyone, finds the sort of contentment with Angelique that he’d never expected to feel.

Between the Devil and the Duke is a really enjoyable story, and I loved every minute of it. The story is engrossing, the characterisation is excellent and the love scenes are sensual and romantic. Kelly Bowen has further cemented her place as one of the best of the historical romance authors currently writing, and I’m eagerly looking forward to her next book.
Profile Image for WhiskeyintheJar.
1,255 reviews518 followers
February 7, 2017
3.5 stars

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Angelique's life has turned her from a pampered Lady of wealth to a masked card counting lady trying to keep the bill collectors at bay.
Alex has been a farmer soldier fighting for his homeland to now the owner of the wealthiest gaming hell in London.
They both have their secrets but the spark and burn between them won't be denied. Lies, betrayals, money, and sex, Angelique and Alex stand in the eye of it all.
Though Angelique didn't consider herself daring. She was simply desperate.
Third in the Season for Scandal series, this could be read as a standalone but a solid understanding of how secondary characters fit and of Alex's background would be slightly missed if done so. However, the romance and relationship between Angelique and Alex begins right here. Rarely, do I begin a review with talk of a secondary character but Angelique's brother brought out such a visceral reaction from me I can't help but start with a warning to be prepared to want to commit murder. It's a testament to the author's ability to write a character that brings out such a reaction but there was a moment when I thought Angelique's brother was possibly dumbed-down too much in favor of raising Angelique's pedestal.
You'll feel for Angelique, for her helplessness and her spine. She's a math genius that due to the time period must find creative ways to use her talents in hopes of making money for her family. Alex was our sexy, strong, and heroine enabling hero who had a fascinating background that was fully sketched out but I personally felt didn't get to visit enough. Considering his sister was the heroine of the previous book in the series, I would have liked more interaction between them and maybe a little more healing from their shared pain of fighting in a war and losing a brother. Also, while his propensity to exclaim "Mmmm" started off as a funny character trait, the overabundance started to limit him; I started to miss some feel for his character. I know the "Mmmm" was to represent his humor, bafflement, or sarcasm for the moment/discussion, but actually getting a turn of phrase for at least one out of three of these moments would have added much color to his personality.
"Nothing from the past can make me anything less than whoever it is I wish to be."

I thought this started off really strong with the attraction and interaction between Alex and Angelique. Their sexual tension enticed me to want to keep reading them but I was a bit disappointed on how quickly it was acted upon and I was left missing that anticipation. Angelique's family drama, the plot that drives the danger and mystery, was all laid out admirably but the middle sagged somewhat for me as the author dragged out some misdirection (regarding secondary characters) to, in my opinion, unnecessarily keep the reader guessing.
Angelique and Alex were both interesting characters in their own right and they did have the spark us readers all crave for our couples. I wanted my anticipation to be feed a little longer but this couple definitely had some heat to them. If you're looking for a 1800s historical with family drama, betrayals, and heat set in a world where you can't wait for secondary characters to get their own book, add this one to your list.
Profile Image for Jo.
957 reviews200 followers
February 9, 2017

Lady Angelique Archer has been trying to hold her family together since her parents died and their family fortune had gone missing. Her eldest newly titled brother is no help whatsoever since he spends his time and money on drinks and whores. Her affinity with numbers has given her the opportunity to make some money which her family desperately needed. And things were going well until she caught the attention of Mr. Lavoie. But instead of throwing her out of his gaming club he offers her a job. A job she can’t refuse. But how does she keep her professional distance from the delicious and protective Alex?

Alexander Lavoie has been intrigued by the mysterious blonde since the first moment she came into his club. And when he realises that her winning streak is due to more than mere luck, he knows he wants her as an employee and a lot more.

“But survival has made me who I am. I learned to rely on myself because there was no one else. To understand that my strengths were not failures. There are many things that I regret in my life, but I cannot regret that.”

I loved Angelique and how smart, strong and brave she was. Instead of crying in despair over her circumstances she did what was necessary to keep her family from starving. She’s always tried to hide how smart she was, but circumstances forced her to embrace her gift and to finally be herself.

The moment he had gazed into her intelligent blue eyes, he’d been smitten. The moment she’d stepped between him and two warders’ blades, he’d been lost. And the moment she’d trusted him with her body, gifted him with her raw vulnerability and demanded the same from him, he’d fallen in love.

I have been intrigued by sexy club owner Alexander Lavoie since the first book. And I absolutely adored him in this book. I loved that he desired Angelique since the first moment he saw her, and that her intelligence just made him crave her more. It was awesome how totally smitten he was with her, how he wanted to protect her and give her the opportunity to excel at numbers, doing what she loves most. And his scar across his face just added to his sexy appeal.

“Please stay. Stay with me.” They were mumbled words, rough and urgent against her lips.
She pulled back from him, an overwhelming surfeit of joy and love making her entire body shake. “There is nowhere else I want to be,” she whispered. “There is nowhere else I belong.”

I loved the chemistry between Angelique and Alex, how they worked together at his club and at finding out who the villain was. The slow-burn of their romance was amazing, how hard they tried not to give into their desire but with every look, every touch it became inevitable. And when they finally came together it was so hot and sexy!

I loved how intriguing and suspenseful the plot was with trying to figure out what really happened to the Archer family fortune and who the bad guys were. I even had my suspicions about who the villain was, and I was pleasantly surprised when it turned out I was wrong ;-D

Kelly Bowen is fast becoming one of my top HR authors. I love her smart and unconventional heroines, her sexy and interesting heroes, the passionate romance and the extremely intriguing plot. Her books are always winners and I always look forward to reading them. And next is the very interesting and mysterious Gisele Whitby’s book. I cannot wait to read it!! And hopefully King’s book will be the fifth book…. Pretty please?? This series is a must read for all HR fans. Highly recommended.

Profile Image for Mei.
1,879 reviews404 followers
February 6, 2017
I confirm: I'm Ms. Bowen fan! :)

I love her writing style. It's just a right mix of descriptions, inner thoughts, great dialogue and hot attraction!

I also like that in this series the heroines are very interesting. Not just physically (they're romantic heroines and therefore beautiful), but also women with unsual talents.

Here we have Angelique who's a genoìius with numbers! Since I can add (or do any other mathematical calculation) worth a damn, I am deeply in awe when somebody can do that like Angelique did! And here she was simply incredible!

I would like to be able to do something like that! At least I'll save a lot of money when I pay an accountant for my tax payment!!!! Wouldn't that be awesome? LOL

She was also very level headed. And, above all she wasn't stupid in her actions!

I loved how much Alex was smitten, if not how very quickly. But I loved that he was not only smitten with her body, but most of all her mind! How very nice!

Obviously, Ms. Bowen writes some very hot and very well written love scenes! And that's plus!

Add to all that a nice mystery about why all the catastrophic things are happening to Angelique's family and you get a good tasting cake with some nice icing and on top of all a juicy cherry! :)

I just hope Ms. Bowen will continue with this series maintaining the same interesting female characters and great writing!
Profile Image for Heather K (dentist in my spare time).
3,831 reviews5,505 followers
June 29, 2018

*3.75 stars*

Some books grab me from the start, but Between the Devil and the Duke was one that built and built. I thought I knew what was going to happen, but the twists and turns really surprised me, and by the end, I was totally hooked.

Ashford McNab did a fine job narrating, though I prefer some of the other historical romance narrators. She was good, but some of her phrasing came out a bit stilted in the beginning, and I thought her male voices for all the side characters were gratingly whiny. However, as the book went along, again I found myself liking her performance more and more.

I loved that our female MC was a math prodigy and shouldered the responsibility of saving her family. I adore a strong female MC, and we really got one here. I also liked how the mystery played out, and mysteries aren't usually my favorite. The chemistry between the MCs was very good, and though I thought that the pacing faltered a bit in the middle, I was engaged the whole time.

Another solid effort from Kelly Bowen.
Profile Image for Julie - One Book More.
899 reviews154 followers
October 6, 2021
Alexander Lavoie, owner of the most successful gaming club in London, is intrigued when he catches the beautiful Angelique Archer counting cards. When Alex offers her a job, he quickly realizes that trouble follows Angelique. Orphaned and penniless, Angelique doesn’t know where her family’s missing money went, her life is threatened, and her brother is accused of murder and imprisoned. As Angelique and Alex work together and begin to unravel family secrets and treacherous plots, can they resist their growing feelings for each other?

I loved Between the Devil and the Duke! Angelique and Alex are such compelling protagonists, and I loved their character arcs. Angelique is a strong, intelligent, and independent woman. With a selfish, wastrel older brother and two younger brothers in need of tuition money, Angelique is burdened with family responsibilities. She uses her amazing math skills when gambling to make enough money to keep her family afloat. She is such a wonderful person, though she doesn’t see her own worth. I love how she grows more self-assured and confident as the story progresses, and that she never gives up on what she believes in. She is such a dynamic character, and a wonderful complement to Alex, one of the few people who sees her value and appreciates her.

Alex is so swoon-worthy, and there is way more to him than the rumors suggest. Is he a spy? A scoundrel? A villain? A good man? Alex keeps everyone at a distance, so no one really knows, though Angelique is determined to find out. She sees glimpses of the real man underneath his cool and composed exterior, and she’s impressed by what she sees. (So am I! lol)

I love the chemistry between Alex and Angelique, especially how smitten Alex is, though he doesn’t realize it. He loves how sharp and astute she is, and he is as entranced by her skill at numbers as much as he is by her beauty. Alex treats Angelique as an equal, which is something she hasn’t experienced before. I love that he sees her as a partner and that he sees how exceptional Angelique is. Their banter is fabulous, and you can really feel the growing connection between the couple as well as the sexual tension.

Both Alex and Angelique struggle with feelings of worth, and both are certain at the start of the story that love is not in their future. However, neither can deny the irresistible connection they share. I love how their relationship grows and develops and how they slowly come to realize how important they are to each other. There are many little moments where this couple shows how much they care for each other, which I thought was so romantic and charming. They have a swoon-worthy love story made more intense by the danger they are constantly thrust into.

There is so much suspense and intrigue in the story, and I was really invested in finding out who was behind all of Angelique’s misfortune. There are many suspicious characters, including Angelique’s older brother and his friends, debt collectors, and more. Angelique and Alex get in several sticky situations as they try to find the truth and save her brother.

Between the Devil and the Duke is a fantastic addition to the Season for Scandal series with deftly developed characters, a well-layered plot, and a swoon-tastic romance. I highly recommend this book to readers of historical romance, and though it’s the third book in the series, it can totally be read as a standalone. Thanks so much to Forever Publishing for a copy of the book in exchange for my honest review. It was such a great read!
Profile Image for ♥Rachel♥.
1,802 reviews830 followers
January 20, 2022
Lady Angelique Archer is trying to keep her family together after the death of her parents. Her brother the heir of the Marquess title is no help spending money they don’t have womanizing, drinking, and gambling, and she needs money to keep her younger brothers in school and food in the cupboards. Being a woman limits the ways Angelique can make money, but there’s one thing she’s good at and that’s numbers. She’s been playing cards at Alexander Lavoie’s club, trying to fly under the radar while winning the money to keep them afloat, but she hasn’t escaped Alex’s notice.

Alex is intrigued by the mystery lady playing and winning at his vingt-et-un table. Her skills and beauty capture his attention even though it’s plain she’s trying to blend in. He approaches Lady Angelique with an offer she doesn’t want to take, but her circumstances make it hard to say no. Especially when her brother lands himself in a heap of trouble.

Alexander and Angelique’s romance was filled with chemistry and deliciously seductive. I loved that even though Angelique is having a hard time, she’s not a complete damsel in distress. She’s a smart and capable woman with courage and ingenuity. However, Angelique desperately needed Alex’s help and he’s there for her in every way. Such a gallant man and a force to be reckoned with!

Between the Devil and the Duke
was such a lovely surprise by new-to-me-author, Kelly Bowen! I was delighted by her clever, vibrant writing! If you’re a fan of Lisa Kleypas or Tessa Dare, you’ll love Ms. Bowen writing! I plan on catching up with the rest of the series.

I alternated between traditional reading and listening to the audio version. Ashford McNab’s performance was brilliant! I listened at 1.75x normal speed.

A copy was kindly provided by Forever in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for romancelibrary.
1,037 reviews446 followers
April 13, 2021

You know that feeling when you read the first 2 chapters of a book and you already know it's going to be a 5 star read? It's a rare experience, but it happened with me here. I'm kicking myself for not reading Between the Devil and the Duke sooner. I can't believe I put it off for almost 2 years when it turned out to the best one in the series. It's one of those books that I was excited to continue reading, but at the same time, I didn't ever want to finish it because I loved the characters too much to say goodbye.

Betwen the Devil and the Duke is a smart, sexy, and sizzling romance between a gambling hell owner and a heroine who is caught counting cards at his vingt-et-un table. Instead of throwing Angelique out, Alex recognizes that she's a genius and offers her a job at his club.

This book reminds me of all the reasons why historical romance appeals to me the most as a reader. Alex is so damn sexy and he is 100% turned on by how smart the heroine is 🔥 The sexual tension here is incredibly well written. The chemistry was sizzling from the very moment Angelique and Alex laid eyes on each other. They gave me all the damn feels. And the sexual tension was just 🔥🔥🔥

The pairings in this series are always spot on, and Alex and Angelique are no exception. They were simply perfect for each other. Kelly Bowen has a way with pairing the perfect characters together as couples and that's the reason why I'm not worried about the kind of woman she'll eventually (and hopefully) pair with King. I also really enjoyed the plot; the mystery was thoroughly engaging and I had fun deciphering it. The ONLY thing missing is an epilogue. The ending was still extremely satisfying, but I just love epilogues, you know?

All the fucking stars for this book. It reminds me of the reason why historical romance is superior to other romance sub-genres (every other genre can go home tbh). I don't know how I will be able to move on to something else now.

P.S. No wonder this was nominated for a RITA. Also, I'm not 100% sure of the title's significance, but I don't give a shit because this book is magic.
Profile Image for Bj.
1,217 reviews263 followers
May 31, 2017
4.5 "The Math Whiz Lady & Her Benefactor Turned HEA" Stars for the story & 5 stars for the narration!

This listen flew by! I loved the chemistry between the H and He as well as the unexpected twists! Moreover, Ashford McNab's narration was divine!

Source: Library-loan.
Profile Image for Anna's Herding Cats.
1,274 reviews307 followers
February 9, 2017

Reviewed for herding cats & burning soup.
Amazon: http://amzn.to/2lbGeV9

Bowen just gets better and better! Between the Devil and the Duke was a thrillingly unique adventure that kept me eagerly reading just...one...more...page. You know, instead of cleaning the house, or working on my steps. I just needed one...more...page first. lol I loved the characters, the daring, the mystery and set up. The entire world is rich, luscious and utterly delicious.

So the gist is that Alex? He's rather intrigued and that doesn't happen often. There's a woman gambling at the club he owns and there's just something about her. She's a mystery. And one that's taking home a tidy sum in winnings as she oh so slyly beats man after man at the tables. And he really must know more.

These two were just such neat characters. Mysterious, unconventional, intriguing. I loved that he was the owner of a gaming hell with connections everywhere and just a charming air about him. And she. Goodness but Angelique was different. She sees numbers. Not just counting cards but if she sees a ledger she can instantly see patterns or spot errors, does massive problems instantly in her head. She was endlessly strong and had such backbone, too.

I loved them together. Frustrations, chemistry, learning to trust, how they interacted. All of it. They were just a yummy pair.

And the action. I really enjoyed the mystery as well. Finding the truth behind why she was so desperate to bet at the tables and earn every penny she could. Parts made me really dang mad on her behalf. I was able to figure things out for the most part but there were enough teasing bits to keep me entertained and wanting more.

All in all, Between the Devil and the Duke was a win. If you're just trying out historical romance or trying to get back into the genre grab one of Bowen's books. She perfectly captures the magic of the genre. Can't wait to see what Bowen comes up with next.
Profile Image for Amanda.
578 reviews62 followers
January 30, 2019
The first two books in this series put Bowen on the auto-buy list for me. As improbable as the plots have been, the fact that she's had women engaged in unusual professions really captured my attention. I've been eagerly awaiting Alex's story (although not as much as King's, which I hope we'll get eventually even though she's moving on to a new series next). Unfortunately this book didn't quite meet my expectations.

Bowen has created another intriguing female protagonist in Angelique. I like the complexity of her heroines because it's surprisingly easy to make a so-called "strong" heroine one-dimensional. Angelique is the sister of a marquess fallen on hard times, trying to disguise their precarious financial situation from the ton and taking on the responsibility for rescuing her family singlehandedly due to her older brother being perpetually drunk and useless. None of this is unique in historical romances. I feel like I've read a hundred stories with a heroine secretly trying to make money to save her family with no help. In the hands of a talented writer like Bowen, it still felt interesting, if not original.

We soon learn that Angelique, who has been playing vingt-et-un at Lavoie's gaming hell to win money, is not a card sharp so much as a mathematical genius. She has the rare ability to do massive sums in her head instantly. (I used to think these people were completely made up until I saw someone do this on a talk show once.) Alex notices her from the first night she comes in because she has a routine: she buys expensive French brandy, goes to the card table in one of her two low-cut evening gowns, and divests her opponents of large sums of money without drawing attention to herself. When she's accosted by a fellow player who loses a small fortune to her, Alex steps in. He takes her to his office to question her and arrange for her to get home, and she points out errors in a ledger he happens to have open on his desk. He is fascinated (and aroused, natch) by her freakish math abilities and offers her a job on the spot. He assures her that he intends to act professionally as he doesn't mix business with pleasure but Angelique is not inclined to accept his help.

I found their first interactions stilted and unconvincing. Alex, for all intents and purposes, falls in love in his first interaction with Angelique, although he doesn't admit this to himself. I love a smitten hero but this happened too fast to feel real. Angelique, meanwhile, is obstinate and a little too proud to accept his offer of a job. She's in her own head a lot in these first scenes and thus there's not much conversation aside from Alex saying "mmmm" (something he repeats about 600,000 times in the book). When they're attacked by Angelique's drunk brother and his friends pretending to be highwaymen, Alex insists on taking her (and her incapacitated brother) home. When they get to her home, Alex offers any help she needs, pretty much unconditionally. Again, I found myself wondering why? Sure, he's attracted to her breasts and her brain (in that order, if you ask me), but I couldn't fault Angelique for being hesitant even though he's been nothing but a gentleman.

All of this sets up the story: when Angelique's brother steals the money she won, she has no choice but to accept Alex's offer of a job being his vingt-et-un dealer. Gerald, Angelique's brother and a marquess, gets wrapped up in some scheme to make up for the money he stole from her (which was meant to pay tuition at Harrow for their younger twin brothers, much to his surprise because he's oblivious). He soon finds himself suspected of murder. There's a whole mystery plot that takes up a good portion of the second half of the book.

I didn't entirely get past my initial disbelief at how quickly Alex and Angelique "connected" but Bowen does a good job drawing out the sexual tension. I still think they began strongly in lust and I don't see how they learned enough about each other for this to turn into love. Alex is having Angelique and her brother followed at one point (which he does admit to her) and digs into her past to try to figure out the mystery of her family's missing fortune, which Angelique's father secretly lost by selling almost all of their holdings to an unknown source. This is where Ivory, heroine of Duke of My Heart, and her firm Chegarre & Associates first comes in. Angelique separately approaches C&A to help clear her brother's name and discovers Alex is more than the owner of a gaming hell.

But the longer the book went on, the more issues I had. For one, I found it completely implausible that two people as intelligent as Alex and Angelique couldn't figure out one of the big secrets of the book. I don't mean the entire mystery--and its multiple parts--but one particular thing that is basically the root of her family's issues that is so obvious that anyone with the smallest analytical skills could figure it out, let alone these two.

I also felt like this book had so much wasted potential. Let's start with Alex. I was so looking forward to his book, as he makes quite an impression as a secondary character in the preceding books. But I felt like we still know next to nothing about him and his past. This should've been the book where this is explored and yet, aside from some tidbits here and there, I barely know any more about him after finishing his book than I did when he was in the background.

I also felt like Gerald, the drunkard of a brother, could've been fleshed out better. When he apologised to Angelique for stealing her money, I saw glimmers of someone who could be a surprisingly interesting character. Not as future romance hero material, but as someone more than the cookie cutter irresponsible brother/aristocrat we see in so many books. Alas, from the minute he's thrown into the Tower, his character all but disappears (given the entire plot of the book becomes a quest to clear his name and free him, I found this baffling). And when we do see him, he's nothing but a spoiled and immature manchild. I guess I was...disappointed. And not entirely satisfied with how this part of the book played out.

I'm sure many people will enjoy this book and I by no means disliked it. But I know Bowen can do better. Oh, and this didn't affect my rating and I don't blame the author for this, but who thought up the title? I know dukes sell books (supposedly) but this is a moot point when the only dukes in this book are the hero of the first book, who makes a brief but important appearance, and the father of Gerald's slimy best friend.

Note: This book fulfills "Quiz" in the Letter Q Challenge.
Profile Image for Carol Cork *Young at Heart Oldie*.
425 reviews200 followers
April 12, 2021
Kelly Bowen really impressed me with the first two books in her Season for Scandal series. I love her original, engaging and deeply romantic stories, her smart heroines and sexy heroes. This is the third book in the Season for Scandal and definitely my favourite.

I liked Alex in the previous two books but I never anticipated that he would be such a wonderful hero. I found the combination of his roguish charm, intelligence, sex appeal and wit irresistible.

He left her where she stood and retrieved a long, flat box from the back of his office. He returned to place the unwieldy package across the top of his desk.
“What is that?” she asked warily.
“A gown.”
“For me?”
“Yes. I’ve discovered the color doesn’t complement my complexion. And the skirts show too much of my ankle. The ladies might riot.”

He is fiercely protective and honourable but his reputation as a dangerous man is well founded when it comes to defending those he loves.

Angelique has such strength of character and I admire her devotion and loyalty to her family, even though I felt her eldest brother, Gerald, was undeserving of it. To conform with society’s expectations, she has hidden her mathematical prowess and I really loved seeing her trounce that obnoxious, bosom-ogling Baron Daventon at vintage-et-un!

“The electricity between them was not to be believed. It was so tangible you could feel it in the air. I knew something was going to come of it.” – a quote about Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall in ‘To Have and to Hold’ from the film’s publicist Mickey Seltzer.

This quote perfectly describes how I felt about the chemistry between Alex and Angelique because the air positively sizzles with sexual tension whenever these two are together and the romance is both tender and sensual.

I love the fact that Alex is not only attracted by Angelique’s beauty, but also by her extraordinary intelligence. His reaction when she discusses possible gaming strategies, after he offers her a job in the club at the vingt-et-un table, is priceless. Alex is a man who has never given his heart to a woman and watching him fall deeply in love with Angelique was delightful. Angelique does not trust Alex at first, and I could understand her reasons given her past experience with her former fiancé and Alex’s rumoured reputation as an assassin and spy. However, she cannot help finding him both fascinating and exciting and, as she comes to know him, discovers that he is both a gentleman and honourable.

Their relationship is one I could believe in because they are so well matched in intelligence, wit and passion. They are able to confide their inner most thoughts to each other and, for Alex, who has always been so aloof, it brings a feeling of contentment he has never known before.

He’d revealed more about himself to her than to anyone. Which seemed natural and right, because she had done the same. And instead of the regret and disquiet that he had expected with such exposure, he felt…content

With Alex’s encouragement, I enjoyed seeing Angelique gain in self-confidence and realise that, regardless of her past, she can be whoever she wants to be.

Angelique felt her pulse roaring in her ears, felt the breath slowly being squeezed from her lungs.She had come this far. She would not hide anymore. She needed to step out onto the floor.
“Because this is me.” She gazed around the office. This is what I’m good at. Numbers. Books.”

The mystery - a tale of revenge, blackmail and murder - surrounding the missing fortune and who is trying to destroy Angelique’s family and why, was intriguing enough to keep me guessing right up until the culprit’s identity is revealed. Ivory Moore, her husband, the Duke of Alderidge, the enigmatic King and Gilda, all characters from the previous books, make a welcome return to provide invaluable assistance to Alex in his efforts to solve the mystery. Like so many other reviewers, I do hope King gets his own book.

MY VERDICT: If you love an engrossing story, excellent characterisation and a captivating, sensual romance, then I can definitely recommend this book.

Season of Scandal series (click on the book covers for more details):

Duke of My Heart (Season for Scandal, #1) by Kelly Bowen A Duke to Remember (Season for Scandal, #2) by Kelly Bowen Between the Devil and the Duke (Season for Scandal, #3) by Kelly Bowen The Lady in Red (Season for Scandal, #3.5) by Kelly Bowen

This review was first posted on Rakes and Rascals:

Profile Image for Amanda.
400 reviews98 followers
February 8, 2017
“You have impressed me immeasurably, Lady Angelique.”
He was rewarded with a smile, one that actually reached her eyes, and the first one he had seen all night. “Good,” was all she said.”

I have been waiting to love, not just like or enjoy, a book in this series and finally it happened with Between the Devil and the Duke. Although, what’s not to love when Kelly Bowen has once again deployed her signature trope of heroes who end up completely (to quote Miss Ivory Moore) besotted with their heroines. And this was particularly true when it came to Alex and Angelique.

What made this book a winner for me was the fact that Alex was literally turned on by Angelique’s genius. Could there be anything hotter than that? He, and we, discover at the start that there was much more to Angelique’s card sharp skills than met the eye. She was a whiz with numbers, something she was encouraged to hide from the wagging tongues of the ton as math is not a becoming subject of study for ladies. So, Angelique instead became the Marble Maiden; invisible and of no consequence to anyone, not even herself. That is, until Alex saw HER. He saw her value and worth as a person as no one else had before. He saw her for the brilliant, passionate woman she was beneath that veil of anonymity and worked tirelessly in order to bring her true nature to the surface and to make her proud of who she was. And boy, did he succeed!
“When she stood in front of that mirror, with a man who had never treated her as anything less than his equal, a man to whom she’d revealed more of her true self than she’d ever done with any other, she had witnessed just how much he had wanted her.
And whether he knew it or not, Alexander Lavoie had gifted Angelique with a knowledge that she hadn’t possessed when she’d first here tonight. She finally understood beauty and the power that came with it. And she finally understood that it had nothing to do with how she looked.”

I really loved Angelique’s personal journey. Watching her embrace the traits that made her exceptional, and then learning how to turn those traits into strength and power; it was beyond rewarding. And through all her struggles, she never once wavered or stopped fighting; the definition of courageous. Ultimately, she realized that she was in fact not a maiden of marble, but a pillar of strength and that made all the difference.
“Truly, I’ve endured worse and survived,” she hastened to assure him.
“Yes. You survived.” It sounded flat. “You shouldn’t have to just survive.” Now his words had an edge to them
“But survival has made me who I am. I learned to rely on myself because there was no one else. To understand that my strengths were not failures. There are many things that I regret in my life, but I cannot regret that.”

Alex’s emotional growth by contrast wasn’t as an impactful, save for him finally allowing someone into his closely guarded heart, which was no small feat for a solitary being such as he. And watching the way he opened up to Angelique, as she did in turn with him, felt good and it felt right. I loved Alex as a character and a hero and I especially loved the way he loved Angelique.
“The moment he had gazed into her intelligent blue eyes, he’d been smitten. The moment she’d stepped between him and two warders’ blades, he’d been lost. And the moment she’d trusted him with her body, gifted him with her raw vulnerability and demanded the same from him, he’d fallen in love.”

The romance was the guiding light of the book, as was the likability and goodness of the two leads. Sure there was a looming plot that involved Angelique’s family which added mystery and intrigue but if I’m being honest, I could’ve done without it. Which is really saying something because I usually NEED plot of some kind to beef up the romance so to speak, but Alex and Angelique didn’t need any help. In fact, I kept going back re-reading all their scenes together, scenes that left me breathless on more than one occasion I might add, because of how much better they were than anything else that was going on and once the other plot took prominence over the romance, it was kind of a bummer. MORE ROMANCE, LESS PLOT. Wow, I never thought I’d write that like, EVER, but there it is.

Um, what else? The gaming hell setting was a lot of fun. As was seeing many familiar faces from previous books, the biggest exception being Elise who was a no show, which was slightly disappointing given how close she and Alex are as siblings. I haven’t a clue whose book might be next but I’m hoping for Gilda or King.
Profile Image for Rose Blue.
643 reviews24 followers
February 7, 2017
As reviewed at Roses Are Blue: http://wp.me/p3QRh4-tT

Angelique Archer never quite took during her first season. Because of her unwillingness to dance (which she did poorly) and her inability to make small talk, she soon became known as the Marble Maiden. She left society to take care of her dying mother, and never rejoined society as her father died not long after. With her family fortune seemingly vanished into thin air, and her wastrel brother continuing to spend extravagantly, Angelique has to take desperate steps. There is a gambling club, Lavoie's, which allows women to wager. The female gamblers wear masks in order to hide their identities and protect their reputations. Angelique is determined to keep her family losses a secret and to win enough funds to provide for what remains of her household, and to keep her younger brothers in school. You see, Angelique is a genius with numbers - she is able to memorize cards which have been played and accurately calculate odds. She cleverly intersperses small losses among her winnings, and tries to remain as unobtrusive as possible. She has, however, come to the notice of the club's owner.

Alexander Lavoie makes certain that he is aware of all that happens in his club. He notices everything about the beautiful woman who comes to gamble - he knows that she doesn't cheat, he knows that she's trying to stay inconspicuous, he knows that she's brilliant, but he doesn't know who she is. When a drunk accosts Angelique, Alex steps in to defuse the situation, anxious to interact with the intriguing mystery woman. As luck would have it, Angelique's intoxicated brother shows up, creates havoc, and allows Alex to discover her identity. He realizes that Angelique is not gambling for the thrill, but that she's in desperate need of the money. Alex offers her a job in his club because he feels that would be very lucrative, but also because he wants to further his acquaintance. While Angelique initially refuses, her brother's actions cause yet a more serious financial loss, and she accepts the job at Lavoie's as a masked dealer.

From the beginning, Alex and Angelique (whom he eventually calls "Angel") have an intense physical awareness of each other, which they both intend to ignore. But aside from the attraction, they discover another connection, a mental one, as well as genuine liking and admiration. Alex is not intimidated by Angel's extreme intelligence and abilities, rather he appreciates them. And Angel looks beyond Alex's reputation of being a spy and assassin to see the honorable, kind and caring man underneath. I have to say that I fell in love with Alex - what a fantastic hero he is. Almost from the beginning, he knew he was smitten and he admitted it. He never hesitated to do what he had to do to help Angel. I never thought I'd get the shivers from just hearing a man say, "Mmmm," but Alex has that effect on me. As for Angel, she never looked down on Alex or his connections, though she's the daughter of a marquess. She's strong, determined, and a worthy match for him.

As Alex and Angel's affair heats up, the investigation into the missing Archer family fortune leads to a twisted story of family secrets, betrayals, and revenge. I can't speak highly enough of Kelly Bowen's fantastic writing. She is rapidly becoming a favorite author, with her likable, intelligent protagonists and exciting storylines. BETWEEN THE DEVIL AND THE DUKE had it all for me - sizzling passion, genuine romance, great characters, and a captivating story. The whole Season for Scandal series has been a winner, one which I give my highest recommendation.
Profile Image for Lady Wesley.
924 reviews311 followers
October 14, 2017
Kelly Bowen is a relatively new addition to my auto-buy list of authors, and the Season for Scandal series has been fun, exciting, and a pleasure to listen to.

Her heroines are strong, self-sufficient women, which is a bit of a stretch in Regency England, but Bowen makes it plausible. They are quite likable and able to hold their own against the men they are matched with. And although her first two heroes were dukes, they were not your usual dukes -- one was a former pirate and the other was a recluse who hid his identity and became an ordinary farmer. They both appear as sidekicks to the hero in this book, a former soldier who now owns a high-class gambling club, but despite the title of the book, he is not a duke or even a son of a duke. Nor is he a devil, so I don't know why this title was chosen.

Now that I have written this, it makes these books sound rather silly, but they aren't. Bowen has the ability to get the right mix of adventure, mystery, humor, friendship, and hot-hot-hot sexual attraction -- enough to get me to suspend my disbelief and just enjoy the ride.

If this sounds appealing to you, I can heartily recommend the entire series. Kelly Bown is an author to keep your eye on.
Profile Image for Joanna Loves Reading.
559 reviews214 followers
August 26, 2017
This is the third and final book in the Season for Scandal. The Hero, Alex, has been featured in the previous two books, where he appeared to be a worthy hero. This book did not disappoint. He was the hero that I hoped he would be from reading about him previously. However, the heroine stole the show. Angelique is an extremely intelligent heroine and sister to a marquess, who has fallen into near ruin. She is doing all that she can to prevent that ruin, and one of the few options she has remaining is to play cards at Alex's club. The romance that develops between the two slowly grows and builds and is well done.

The mystery behind the loss of Angelique's family fortune reveals itself one clue at a time, and the reader is not able to guess ahead of the story. To ensure this Bowen employs misdirection that keeps the reader on their toes. It was very deftly handled.

My only complaints were that the some of the conclusion seemed a little too neatly done, and the title of the book doesn't apply to the story well.
Profile Image for Anna lost in stories *A*.
1,021 reviews166 followers
November 23, 2019
2,5 stars... unfortunately this one is another audibook I am gonna DNF... apparently third time wasn't the charm... as in this is the third audiobook in a row I am deciding not to finish... *sighs* with this one I was able to wait until 38% but that was all I could give this story... the writing style wasn't bad, but I couldn't connect with either of the main characters and everything that has been happening between them was a bit too much too fast for me... too much attraction like waaaaaaaaaay too fast, especially on Alexander's side... plus, the narrator's voice with this one grated a bit on my ears, so that definitely didn't help... most of my issues with it comes from my personal preferences and I'm sure a lot of you will be able to enjoy this book, it just wasn't for me :)


Profile Image for Kayla Brunson.
1,288 reviews237 followers
November 12, 2018
I may be speaking too soon but Kelly Bowen might be making her way up on my HR authors list. This is my first book by her, (I didn't know that this was a part of a series, like always) but you can bet that I'm going to be buying more her books from now on. 

The writing was fantastic and I loved our main characters, Alex and Angelique. Speaking of them, they had MAJOR CHEMISTRY!! Y'all the sexual tension between these two was killing me. Both characters had secrets and haven't really been shown that they were worth the effort to be loved. 

Even though this is a romance there is a mystery plot here also. Someone is trying to frame Angelique's brother for murder. I didn't expect this aspect but I was really surprised by how into it I was! I was shocked by the secrets that were revealed and who was guilty.

Overall, if you enjoy steamy romance with a hint of mystery then please pick this book up!

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2,785 reviews41 followers
December 1, 2022
The H is a strong person and the h is his perfect match. She's struggling to protect what little she has, but offers him some of her exceptional skills. He's smitten from the first, she's cautious with good reason. But together they resolve a great mystery and various murders. Loved the ending, just so right for this wonderful couple.
Profile Image for Topastro.
450 reviews
July 2, 2020
Don't discount this book due to my 2 star rating. This is a case of its me and not you. I really did like the over protective hero and the heroine was strong but it just didn't keep my attention despite the intrigue and gaming hell setting. C'est la Vie.
Profile Image for starryeyedjen.
1,640 reviews1,231 followers
January 30, 2019
I've never read a novel by Kelly Bowen before but I quite enjoyed my first by her, and I'm sure it won't be my last. For some reason, most of my favorite historical romances take place in gaming hells, and this story is no different. I loved that the heroine was a genius at numbers, and instead of thinking her odd, the hero is charmed by this fact. Also, Ashford McNab is fabulous at narrating historical romance. She also narrates the Maiden Lane series by Elizabeth Hoyt, which I also very much enjoyed.
Profile Image for Inna.
1,350 reviews159 followers
June 26, 2021
3 stars. This book wasn’t bad, but I spent a good chunk of the middle debating with myself about finishing it or DNFing. It gets stale at times, especially because I read both of the other books in this series right before this, and there are plenty of similarities.

This book has an interesting set up: The heroine is gambling at the hero’s club to keep her family afloat financially. She’s a genius with numbers and has a strategy set up to keep her gambling to a minimum while still making enough to survive. Her father left the family in horrible financial straits when he died and her brother spends more time drinking and whoring than taking his responsibilities seriously. The beginning of the book is quite a downer when it comes to the heroine’s home life… it was nearly painful to read about. So the hero realizes how amazing the heroine is with numbers and offers her a job running a table at his club. She really has no choice but to agree, and they begin a working relationship with lots of sexual tension.

I think one of the things that was poorly done in this book was how quickly the hero and the heroine pounce on each other initially… they definitely give in to their betraying body syndromes pretty quickly. This book could have made a fantastic slow burn, but the rush for physical intimacy felt overdone. The heroine has had one sexual experience and she doesn’t think twice but to immediately get intimate with her new boss? If anything, he’s the one to stop progress. Hmmmmmmm.

So after she begins working at the club, a new problem quickly arises: her brother is found standing over a dead body and is accused of murder. The hero, who also works for Chagarre and associates, helps her investigate the truth of the matter. They eventually get a HFN ending, but like all the books in this series, this one is badly in need of an epilogue.

Safety is fine; heroine had sex once and it was bad 🙄, hero seems to be a manwhore at times but it’s not totally clear just how bad he really is. No others during the story.

This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Amarilli 73 .
2,138 reviews68 followers
January 19, 2020
Ecco qua una serie che è partita bene e che continua a piacermi, libro dopo libro.
Merito delle protagoniste femminili, sempre donne di spirito, per nulla sciocche e molto intraprendenti. Forse un filino non conformi alla società dell'epoca, ma mi piace pensare che ce ne fossero a bizzeffe di donne così e che soltanto la cappa ipocrita (e con filtro maschile) di una Storia concentrata sui fatti generali non abbia permesso di far arrivare a noi le loro gesta.

Se nei primi capitoli abbiamo seguito due gentildonne-investigatrici (nonchè adesso felici consorti di duchi), stavolta scopriamo finalmente un po' di più sull'ambiguo ma fascinoso Lavoie, proprietario di una rinomata casa da gioco e socio di fatto delle nostre Ivory ed Elise).
Alexander è incuriosito da una sua ospite che si reca per giocare e basta, mantenendo sempre maschera e basso profilo. Più che incuriosito, ne è intrigato, e dopo un po' vorrebbe pure proteggerla e salvarla.
Soltanto che Angelique è immersa nei guai sino al collo e ha a sua volta un fratello scapestrato che non fa che peggiorare la situazione, oltre a nemici misteriosi che la perseguitano.

Un romanzo che unisce romanticismo e azione, con un pizzico di mistero in sottofondo che ci conduce impazienti sino all'ultima pagina.
Forse la storia d'amore è meno combattuta del solito, ma è evidente che Lavoie fosse cotto-stracotto fin dal primo sguardo all'abile giocatrice.
Una lettura amabile e confortante, funestata solo al fatto che al termine ho scoperto che al momento la serie si compone SOLTANTO di tre libri, senza accenni a un seguito.

Scusate, ma... il RE? Qualcuno sa se è stato scritto un libro su di lui?
Praticamente era il personaggio che bramavo, ha lasciato il segno tutte le volte che è apparso e...
Devo assolutamente saperlo.
Grazie a chi mi darà notizie!!!!!
Profile Image for Ira.
1,045 reviews84 followers
January 5, 2018
Seriously this book made me speechless!

The whole mystery regarding the missing fortune was well kept.
My suspicions started almost the same time with Angélique, which is ok because that girl is crazy smart, lol:)

But when I found out the reason? It made me sick!
Who the hell do they think they are?
Everyone need to be end up in Bedlam because they were all maddening:(

Here the clue, the sad thing is I couldn't hate the villain much really.:(

So yup this book is another winner but I still love Elise' and Noah's story more and I didn't meet them here, boo!!!

Again, next King's book please Ms. Bowen...
Profile Image for Annie.
201 reviews
February 6, 2017
I wasn't too keen on the background plot but I loved Angelique and Alex so much <33333
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