Dangerous in Diamonds - Madeline Hunter Since he was first introduced to readers in Ravishing in Red, the Duke of Castleford has been the most fascinating character in Madeline Hunter’s Rarest Blooms series. He’s indolent and arrogant, but so very, very attractive. Each book in the series gave a bit more information about Castleford, but in Dangerous in Diamonds, the wickedly charming Castleford finally gets his own story. And it’s been worth the wait.

Who doesn’t love a rakish, wealthy, powerful, handsome duke? Daphne Joyes, for one. As the owner of The Rarest Blooms flower business, the widowed Daphne wants nothing to do with the dissolute Castleford. Unfortunately, he has just inherited the land on which her business sits. To Daphne’s dismay, Castleford hints that he may force her off the land…unless she succumbs to his plans for her, of course. Castleford is convinced he can seduce Daphne within weeks, but Daphne is not about to let any man, even a duke, ruin her life and keep her from fulfilling her most secret promise. As Castleford tries to manipulate her, Daphne continually stands up for herself in ways most women of the era wouldn’t.

Dangerous in Diamonds is such a good read because Daphne and Castleford are such fully developed characters (though it helps that we’ve seen them already in the previous three books). Daphne truly is strong-willed and independent. She isn’t one of those common romance heroines whom the author must constantly remind us is strong – we see Daphne’s courage in her actions. She places a high value on herself, and I liked how she really makes Castleford earn her love.

Castleford and Daphne are extremely well matched. Their verbal sparring is quick and clever, but there is an obvious respect between them. Time spent with Daphne seems to temper Castleford’s arrogance and selfishness, and we can see the man beneath the duke. He even talks to Daphne about his childhood, how as heir to a dukedom he was always deferred to even as a young boy. These teasing glimpses of the inner Castleford are endearing and it’s easy to see why Daphne finally lets her guard down to trust him.

Dangerous in Diamonds was a satisfying conclusion to The Rarest Blooms series, and I can’t wait to see what Hunter gives us next. PS: I particularly like talking about Hunter’s books to romance-scoffers, because Hunter is a PhD and university professor, much like the fabulous Eloisa James. Who says smart girls can’t like romance novels??

Originally published at The Brazen Bookworm