While reading The Lady Risks All (reviewed on Brazen Reads), I was introduced the Neville Roscoe, London’s gambling king. At the end, there were previews for the two previous Laurens books he appeared in: the seventh Bastion Club book and the conclusion to the Cobra quartet. The Edge of Desire was on sale so I decided to check out the Bastion Club series.
The Bastion Club is a private gentlemen’s club with an extremely exclusive clientele: aristocratic men who spent the entirety of the Napoleonic Wars behind enemy lines as spies. They are all now rich and titled and the target of the matchmaking mamas of the ton – so the Bastion Club was born as their refuge (since the regular gentlemen’s clubs like White’s are filled with the mamas sons and husbands). In The Edge of Desire, the last unmarried member of the Club, Christian Allardyce, Marquess of Dearne is summonded to help Lady Letitia Randall when her husband is discovered murdered and her brother accused of the deed. Christian and Letitia were once lovers, and had vowed to marry when he returned to England after the war, but, for some reason, Letitia married Randall and broke Christian’s heart. As Christian investigates, and enlists is Bastion Club colleagues and enigmatic handler Dalziel to help, he finds that what he felt for Letitia never went away. The more time he spends with her, the more he wants her. He only has to discover two things: whether she still loves him and why the devil did she break her vow to wait. The mystery gets a little complicated (and hair-raising like any good Laurens) but the romance of second-chances was very sweet.
I also discovered that the final Bastion Club book, Mastered by Love, was on sale, so decided to read that, too. The hero is the mysterious Dalziel, spymaster, and in reality Royce Varisey, now the powerful Duke of Wolverstone (oh, ha! That’s where Carling and Eliza wind up after being chased across half of England). There’s a lot of backstory/emotional baggage in this novel: unrequited love, marriages of convenience for centuries, family disappointment, paternal banishment, etc., etc., etc. Minerva Chesterton was adopted by the Variseys when her parents died (she’s some sort of cousin) and now serves as chatelaine – she is the one suffering unrequited love, having loved Royce for years. The two fall in lust with each other, then something approximating love, and Royce has determined that he wants to marry her when they are caught having sex on the battlements by his sisters’ houseguests. There are some behind the scenes machinations in this book, mostly due to the presence of the mysterious Last Traitor. I find that Royce is less “dangerous” in this book than the previous book, which is odd since he’s the spymaster. I did like seeing Devil in his pre-Honoria days as well as some other prominent Cynster characters. I wasn’t aware that Laurens had so much cross-over between series.