Three months ago, governess Serena Barton was let go from her position. Unable to find new work, she’s demanding compensation from the man who got her sacked: a petty, selfish, swinish duke. But it’s not the duke she fears. It’s his merciless man of business—the man known as the Wolf of Clermont. The formidable former pugilist has a black reputation for handling all the duke’s dirty business, and when the duke turns her case over to him, she doesn’t stand a chance. But she can’t stop trying—not with her entire future at stake.
He cannot give in…
Hugo Marshall is a man of ruthless ambition—a characteristic that has served him well, elevating the coal miner’s son to the right hand man of a duke. When his employer orders him to get rid of the pestering governess by fair means or foul, it’s just another day at the office. Unfortunately, fair means don’t work on Serena, and as he comes to know her, he discovers that he can’t bear to use foul ones. But everything he has worked for depends upon seeing her gone. He’ll have to choose between the life that he needs, and the woman he is coming to love…
I have been meaning to try Milan before - and indeed I think I read another short story by her in an anthology - but this one came across as quite the revelation. I really enjoyed this story and the interaction between the main characters.The thing I like the most is that this has a really original feel to it. The characters are well developed, we can believe their motivations for what they are doing, and their situation is unlike any I've read about before.
Neither one of them is an aristocrat. Serena is a former governess and Hugo a coal miner's son turned boxer and now in the employment of the Duke of Clermont. I really liked both of them. I think I got to know Serena better though. All those conversations that she has with her sister are very interesting to understand how she sees herself and what happened to her. And how that is at odds with her sister's view. I really liked that she didn't give up even when she knew she was a bad situation and that Hugo was a tough opponent. I really liked Hugo too but it took me longer than Serena to feel that she was safe with him. Through their interaction we see them gaining respect for one another and how that lead to something more.
I'm very glad to see a story where people have real worries about money, housing, etc etc. Not that that doesn't appear in other books in some way or another but here it felt like a big concern as none of them has a big family to help them or, in Serena's case, money to see them through their problems.
I was very glad to find out that this is the beginning of a series which I plan to grab asap.