Here we are, back again with Roman Alexander, the Marquis of Montborne and his pair of twin brothers, Anthony & Bartholomew and Constantine & Darius, in the Regency Romance The Danger in Daring a Lady by Emma Locke. Four of them are working hard on making a go of their family business, but they need their unreliable, roguish brother Lord Darius Alexander to earn some capital on the Exchange. Seems that Dare has an uncanny ability of picking out the best investments. Unfortunately he is not so lucky when it comes to his other gambling choices. He’s promised to forgo this pleasure and live a more upright life, yet the game of chance is in his blood, inherited from his derelict father who died in debtors prison after losing the family fortune. Yet, how can a game of cards for a pot of a mere shilling do any harm? Dare pockets his winnings to return to his room at the tavern when the participants cry foul, insisting he return to the table for one last game. Wagering his meager coins, Dare draws an unbeatable hand and when the ante soars with stakes including not just 100 pounds, but also the deed to some farmland, Dare has a dilemma. The only way to cover the bet is to use the letter of credit he is carrying to deposit in Cheltenham the next day – a check entrusted to him by his brother Tony for safekeeping. Yet this is the chance of a lifetime, if he wins not only will he have extra cash, but a piece of land to call his own. How can he turn away from such a deal? Unfortunately, one of the players has luck on her side, a royal flush, and Dare finds himself once again in a deep hole, dishonoring his family and risking banishment due to his heedless actions.
Darius, however, is not one to give up. Hat in hand he goes to the owner of the farm and asks for the note back, explaining it was not his to lose. Miss Caitlin Hart is desperate as well. Southfield Farm was left to her by her brother-in-law who was killed along with her sister and niece during a freak accident. She’s been trying to make a go of it on her own, but her neighbor, Lord Bamber, keeps sabotaging her attempts in the hopes of purchasing the adjacent land for himself (at a fraction of its value). The 200 pounds would be a big help in hiring some hands from out of town (since the locals have all been employed by the Baron) to harvest the potatoes. Darius, who has never done an honest day’s work, preferring to wallow in leisure, agrees to assist Cate on the farm until he earns the lost funds back. Who knew that repairing stone walls and digging up potatoes would work up such a sweat? His appetitive soars as the kindly retainers serve up healthy meals to their hard working patrons, and his eyes begin to roam towards his becoming boss. Yet despite his reputation as a cad, Lord Darius remains a gentleman, sleeping in the barn so as to avoid temptation. In spite of their mutual attraction, he maintains a “hands off” policy – well almost.
After three weeks of hard labor, the two go into town for dinner and a friendly game of Faro when who should show up but the Marquis. Roman has been searching for his wayward brother and is none too happy to find him with a consort who is encouraging his lust for cards. The tale Dare tells does nothing to reassure his brother. Roman insists Darius accompany him back to Merritt House, their London home, and Cate decides to tag along. Perhaps she can find a better life in town instead of continuing to toil for little reward on the land she owns, especially when she gets her hands on the money Darius still owes (the bank draft he handed over was a fake). Ready to confront Lord Anthony, the man in charge of the family purse strings, she gets to meet Dare’s entire extended family including mother, sisters in law, and nephew who complicate an already unmanageable situation, while the demands of a needy paramour adds further chaos to his life.
While this novel is a stand alone, those who have read the previous books in the Naughty Girls series will be happy to catch up with some “old friends” who have retained their quirky characteristics. Needless to say, this story is about the redemption of a slackard brother who has lost the trust of all those he holds most dear, including his twin brother. Despite his flaws, Locke has created a sympathetic character which the reader can’t help but root for while he attempts to overcome the demons from his past so that he may have a future wth the one he loves (if she can overlook his myriad of bad decisions and a foreboding destiny). Four stars.
A thank you to Netgalley, and the author, Emma Locke, for providing this ARC in exchange for an honest review.