Rakehell fans know I adore Sophia Nash. Her prose and sense of humor always make her books a good read, so I was super excited about her new series, "The Royal Entourage." While I'm not a super fan of the premise of the series (I think I'm jaded about so many Dukes. Can you have Duke overload?), Between the Duke and the Deep Blue Sea now has a firm place on my Keeper shelf with the rest of Nash's books and I'm eagerly awaiting the rest of the series.
Half-French Duke, Alex Barclay may be charming and good looking, but his luck has run out. Having supplied the French liquor that got Prinny and a group of six dukes drunk, he's been ordered to wed, bed, and settle down with a wife or Prinny will stop ignoring the rumors that Alex fought for the French against Wellington. Alex, being more French than English, gives a Gallic shrug and hares off to the wilds of the country only to (as usual) have plans go awry when he has to save Roxanne Vanderhaven from the side of a cliff.
Roxanne has been a good wife. A very, very, good wife. So why would her husband try to kill her? Well it's something she plans to discover - after she figures out how to stop falling for the handsome, kind, and very Gallic Duke of Kress.
Sophia Nash has a way of blending sexy, funny, and deeply layered characters into all her books and this one is no different. Both Alex and Roxanne are wonderful characters who I loved peeling the layers from with every turn of the page. Roxanne is a coal miner's daughter and it was great to have a heroine who was rediscovering herself as a woman, not a Lady. Alex is so French it was often hard for me to believe he was a Duke. Nash has a real knack for writing Frenchmen, and Alex may be her best yet. He's all French charm and irony. But there's a hurt little boy and a steel backbone inside him that calls to Roxanne's new freedom.
I know that authors are pushed to make "series" books, but the one major issue I had with this novel was the setup of this new series. There are just too many damn Dukes in Regency romance right now, AND this book would have been far more interesting from the get go if it had started with Roxanne hanging from a cliff - not a bunch of drunken Dukes bickering. There's also a lot of wasted time with other Dukes coming in and out of the picture so they can be used in future books while not being utilized well in this one.
Luckily Roxanne and Alex keep the plot moving along enough that I could overlook this flaw. There were lots of twists and turns to keep me guessing about how it was all going to end, and our hero and heroine have enough private time for me to fall in love with Alex and his sexy smile all on my own.
Bottom Line: This book may start a little slow, but once it hits its stride you'll be turning pages well into the night because Sophia Nash is BACK with a new series that you won't want to miss.