I have been anticipating Castleford’s story since I first met him back in the first book of this series, Ravishing in Red. He was drunk, debauched, arrogant, thoroughly wicked, and I was helplessly intrigued. He was almost unlikable in the beginning, but he grew through each book and stole the show whenever he had page time.
I think this book can be read as a standalone, but I don’t think you’ll have the same investment and fascination with Castleford if you haven’t seen him evolve throughout the series. It’s like Bewcastle in Mary Balogh’s Slightly series. You need that build up and growth throughout the series to really make the character pop.
I’m pleased that the Castleford we see in this book is the same that we saw in the previous books. I was kind of afraid his character would be whitewashed. But no, he’s still the same man. He has an ego the size of Texas, and he expects to get his way. He’s a duke and it shows. He knows that he can be as bad as he wants and people will still fawn and simper over him. It also helps that he’s quite attractive and has a wicked charm under all that debauchery.
I’ll be honest, Castleford carried this book for me. I found that Daphne lacked the personality that was hinted at in the previous books. Even though I sympathized with her situation I found her a little lackluster. I didn’t dislike her at all, but I found myself a little bewildered by Daphne’s role as the catalyst for Castleford’s change. I understood in the beginning because Castleford was just temporarily changing his behavior to win her. That’s smart and calculating, and just like him. But as we read we realized that he was slowly growing and changing permanently (which was lovely to watch). It’s that change that left me confused. I just didn’t see the click between them that would have explained that.
Ignoring the catalyst of it, I loved watching Castleford change. It happened slowly and felt authentic. I loved that he would not readily admit what was happening in the long run. Any new objection by Daphne that was stated or implied was quickly dealt with—no matter how much it galled him. Some of them led to quite hilarious scenes!
”Mrs. Joyes, did I hear correctly? Are you accusing me of being diseased?”
“The possibility is there. That is all I am saying. One cannot be too careful.”
“I agree. Which is why I am most careful. I assure you that I am not a danger to you.”
She swallowed hard. “One never knows.”
His gaze sharpened. “One most certainly knows.”
“The results of recent debauches may not be apparent yet to you.”
Can you imagine Castleford’s reaction to that? LOL!
I enjoyed Daphne’s reaction to Castleford’s maneuvering of her in the beginning. He manipulates her into staying in London so he can seduce her. She knows what he’s doing, but she doesn’t flip out about it. She lets him play his little game and continues to deny him what he wants. All the while she continues to pursue her own goal. The fact that she never lets Castleford mow her over pleased me. Castleford’s the kind of guy who will push as far as you will let him. He’ll back off when you show him the line, but he’ll plot and deviously sneak until that point. I liked that she had a realistic struggle over whether or not she could say no without it rebounding on her. Even if Castleford didn’t threaten her, she would have had to be completely dim not to fear the wrath of a duke.
The friendship between Castleford and the previous heroes is just as good as it ever was. The scenes between them popped and I found it hilarious that Hawkeswell was so devastated by the thought of Castleford reforming. The scenes between them and the easy camaraderie were one of the highlights of the book for me. I also loved that even though Castleford wanted to be with Daphne, he was mortified by the thought of anyone knowing the lengths he went to please her in certain situations. He kept making her promise not to tell anyone because it would “ruin” his reputation.
Although I enjoyed a lot about this book, there were some things that bothered me. As I stated before, I felt that Daphne’s personality wasn’t as developed as I would have liked. I also found her plot to discredit a certain someone in the book rather lame. It wouldn’t have succeeded at all if Castleford hadn’t shown up and put his two cents in. I also wished the spark between Daphne and Castleford could have flared a little bit more. Hunter is not what I would term a hot writer, so I wasn’t expecting to be blown away by that, but the attraction was a bit more low-key than I was expecting for Castleford’s story. I also didn’t like the surprise at the very end. I felt it needed more build up to feel natural to the story.
Even though I did have gripes, I was pleased enough with Castleford’s story to not let them bother me too much. I’m glad that Hunter finally gave us a story about him and gave us a look at what makes him tick.
“It may take you a year to get an exquisite woman into bed, but I assure you it will be a week in my case.” Or two, perhaps. Three at the outside. But a year was ridiculous, and never was out of the question.
“Then you must have an ace in your hand that I do not know about.”
“Only my charm.”
Hawkeswell thought that was hilarious. He laughed so rudely he turned red.
Dangerous in Diamonds by Madeline Hunter
April 26th 2011 by Penguin Group (USA)
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