Review : Duke With Benefits (Studies in Scandal #2) by Manda Collins

Duke with Benefits_Cover

Published June 27th 2017 by St. Martin’s Paperbacks

LADY + DUKE = TRUE LOVE?

 Lady Daphne Forsyth is a brilliant mathematician with a burning passion for puzzles. When she learns that the library belonging to her benefactress houses the legendary Cameron Cipher—an encrypted message that, once solved, holds the key to great riches—Daphne is on the case. Unfortunately, her race to unlock the cipher’s code is continually thwarted by a deliciously handsome distraction she hadn’t counted on . . . and cannot resist.

Dalton Beauchamp, the Duke of Maitland, is curious as to why Daphne is spending so much time snooping around his aunt’s bookshelves. He’s even more intrigued by her bold yet calculating manner: She is unapologetic about her secret quest . . . and the fiery attraction that develops between them both. But how can they concentrate on solving a perplexing enigma once the prospect of true love enters the equation?

Duke with Benefits is the second in Manda Collins’ Studies in Scandal series set in Regency England.

My Review

Rating : 3.5 out of 5 Stars

Daphne Forsyth is one of the four young scholarly ladies who have inherited Lady Celeste Beauchamp’s estate, including a vast academic library. Each young lady is an artistic or academic prodigy and Lady Celeste wished to give them the opportunity to pursue their studies without constraints. Daphne is a mathematical genius in her own right. She could not resist the appeal of a library containing the famous Cameron Riddle, not to mention the opportunity to separate herself from her father. She is an endearing and quirky character, straightforward and even abrasive at times. She has formed a friendship with the three other young ladies and Beauchamp House has become her new home.

She has started her search for the Cameron Riddle, a cipher leading to a treasure hidden away by the Jacobites. She has always been fascinated by secret messages and codes and she is the person who would be able to unravel the puzzle.

Since the moment he arrived at Beauchamp House, Dalton Beauchamp, the Duke of Maitland and Lady Celeste’s nephew, has drawn her interest. Although he has a reputation as a bit of a rogue, they get on together and Dalton is willing to provide her any assistance she might need. He has even extended his stay at Beauchamp House.

But other people will stop at nothing to find the Cipher, and someone is willing to kill for it. The hunt for the hidden treasure has turned deadly. Daphne and Dalton travel together to search the cipher and identify the killer. As it happens, Dalton’s aunt wanted them to get to know each other and to spend time together, she carefully planned their relationship.

This story was fast-paced, excessively so in my opinion. The author didn’t take the time to develop the relationship between the main characters, there was something missing in their connection. The nearly instant evolution of their relationship from friends to lovers was not believable. That being said, I enjoyed the mystery, the witty dialogue and the characters were easy to love. Dalton is a wonderful hero, charming, tender and protective. Daphne and Dalton are two very different people who together complete each other perfectly. Despite a few minor quibbles, their story kept me hooked to the very last page.

ARC generously provided by the publisher, via NetGalley.

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