Review: A Lady’s Code of Misconduct by Meredith Duran

Reviewed by Caitlin

I’m not sure who my favorite romance novelist is, but Meredith Duran is definitely top three. She writes novels that are so vivid, that make me think, and that seem so realistic even as they deal with subjects that don’t always pop up in other historical romances (the Mutiny of 1857 in India or a genuine reflection on the lower classes of London.) She’s a page turner. I can’t ever put her down.

And this might be my favorite of all her novels.

1857. Jane Mason is an orphaned heiress (worth about a million pounds) stuck with her uncle and his family until she reaches her majority or gets married. Fat chance of ever getting married — they keep her cloistered in the country while they embezzle her money and punish her if she ever dares speak her mind. They clearly have plans for her to marry her immature and cruel cousin Archie.

She refuses such a fate, and offers the stablemaster 5,000 pounds to marry her so she can access her money and escape her family. She has plans to go to New York. The problem? The stablemaster is a coward who tells Lord Mason at the last minute. Mason plans to have Archie discover her at the meeting spot. The two of them, alone together? She’ll be ruined. She’ll have to marry Archie.

Crispin Burke is an amoral politician with plans to be Prime Minister and will stop at nothing — not bribery, blackmail, or intimidation — to get there. He aligns himself with Lord Mason for his (well, Jane’s) money and to further his political career. He’s never given much thought to Jane, who has done her best to appear invisible. But when he finally notices her one night — an embroidery she made depicting Mason and Burke as devils standing over the bodies of children — and realizes there’s more to her than he thought, he offers his “assistance.” He’ll get Jane home before Archie arrives so she isn’t forced into marriage, and in return she’ll look out for a name for him, something related to information Mason is keeping from Crispin.

Jane holds up her end of the bargain, and Crispin gets her a fake marriage certificate signed from the Archbishop of Canterbury himself (he’s got connections) that’s missing only the name of a husband. All Jane needs to do is get a husband who won’t question the certificate.

And then, acting on the information Jane got him, Crispin gets attacked and left for dead. He’s in a coma. There’s no hope. So Jane puts his name down, enraging her family and finally getting freedom. It’s a baller move, and it’s morally ambiguous, and it serves only to help herself, and I absolutely love her for it. Get it, Jane.

Only Crispin doesn’t die. And when he wakes, he doesn’t remember the last 5 years. And he seems a different person — the person he was before he entered politics, who liked people and wanted to be a good man and a good friend. Who could never earn his family’s respect and still tried anyway. And Jane, who planned to run, is finding herself very much enamored of this new Crispin, as he is of her.

I’m not usually into the amnesia storyline. It feels too convenient. But holy hell, did I love this book. Duran draws two very complicated characters who don’t have all the information. Crispin trusts her because he doesn’t know any better. Jane still looks up ship schedules to New York. The dialogue is witty and funny, and I felt like I learned a lot about politics as well.

There’s a mention of another hero in the book — Lockwood, from The Sins of Lord Lockwood — and we get to see the hero from Duke of Shadows, who I also love. Duran’s prose is stunning, and the world she creates is so detailed. I cannot praise this book enough.

Rating: A

Click to purchase: Amazon

A Lady’s Code of Misconduct
by Meredith Duran
Release Date: February 28, 2017
Publisher: Pocket Books

Comments

  1. I loved this book, but the Sins of Lord Lockwood is by far my favorite Duran book (after the Duke of Shadows). I can’t wait to read her next book, but I can’t find any hint that she’s coming out with anything this year.

  2. Cherrie Croyle says:

    I love Duran, she has written my favorites books of this genre. So good!!! I am currently reading Gary Dickson’s An Improbable Pairing. Very good also, I love Paris and that is where it’s mostly set. Has that “An American in Paris” feel, and the love affair is delicious. I highly recommend it, garydickson.us is his site I think, likely has book info there. The reviews are all very good so you really can’t go wrong!

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