Popping back in here for an update, now that I’ve also read The Queer Principles of Kit Webb, aka the first book in this duology.
And no, it does not answer the questions about plot that I had.
However, The Queer Principles of Kit Webb does lay out the philosophy that underpins these two books, which hinges on the inherent immorality of the duke’s wealth and power. Maybe that’s enough reason—along with him being a Bad Dad of Romance—for everyone to hate the Duke of Clare.
So while it doesn’t solve the plotholes, if you’re interested in Marian Hayes, I definitely recommend reading Kit Webb first.
My full review can be found below.
The Queer Principles of Kit Webb, Book #2
Heat Factor: We’ve got praise kink!
Character Chemistry: Sometimes two wrongs DO make a right
Plot: When Marian accidentally-on-purpose kills her husband, she goes on the run. And kidnaps Rob so he can aid and abet her. After all, he had been blackmailing her, and who could better help her escape the law than a criminal?
Overall: I love me a good highwayman roadtrip book!
I should say, right up front, that I have not read The Queer Principles of Kit Webb (it’s on my list, ok???). From what I can tell, the timelines of the two books overlap, but the main problem with my not reading the books in order was that I was confused about why everyone hated the Duke so friggin much. (Some of the backstory eventually became clear, but not all of it.) So if you really care about being clear on all the characters’ motivations, I would not recommend you read Marian Hayes as a standalone novel
The basic premise of this book is that Rob discovers that he is, in all likelihood, the legitimate heir of the terrible Duke of Clare, and he is not impressed. He likes his life of crime, thanks very much. For some reason, his reaction to learning about his parentage is to start blackmailing the Duke’s third wife, the eponymous Marian Hayes. Even after finishing the book, I continue to be baffled by this plan; in my defense, other characters also seem baffled by this plan, so maybe it was a bad plan all along. Anyways, Rob and Marian strike up a friendship of sorts through their correspondence. And then, a robbery goes terribly wrong, Marian shoots the Duke, and heads off into the country with Rob in tow. That gets us to Chapter 3.
What follows is a rollicking road trip with superb grumpy-sunshine chemistry between the leads. Rob loves being surrounded by people and charms everyone he meets. Marian is icy and self-contained. Of course, this means that when Rob flirts with Marian, Marian brushes it off because “Rob flirts with everyone.”
But appearances are not everything—Rob and Marian are more similar than is obvious at first glance and find that they are excellently matched, not least because they both have a tendency to push people away. I loved the characterization in this book, especially Marian’s ambivalence about motherhood.
I do want to make it clear that although this is a male-female romance pairing, I would call this a queer book (and not just because Rob and Marian are both bi). Rob and Marian negotiate sex and consent so carefully and gently and come to an arrangement that is mutually satisfying (and does not include penetration for Marian).
My final takeaway? I enjoyed reading this book. Despite some plot holes, it was fun. Great characters and witty prose combined to pull off a win.
I voluntarily read and reviewed a complimentary copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own. We disclose this in accordance with 16 CFR §255.
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