Top critical review
Irresistible Force meets Immovable Object
Reviewed in the United States on May 4, 2011
When the Duke of Becksbridge dies, he leaves four small, unentailed properties to relative, Tristan, Duke of Castleford, whose curiosity is aroused. Why didn't Latham, Becksbridge's son and heir (and once Castleford's closest friend), inherit the properties? Investigating the closest parcel, Castleford meets Daphne Joyes who, with resident lady friends, grows flowers to sell on the Duke's newly acquired land. Though a six-day-a-week drunkard and fornicator, sobering up only on Tuesdays to conduct business, Castleford is instantly attracted to "exquisite" Daphne and sets out to win her as his next lover. But she is a woman with many secrets and becomes the immovable object which Castleford's irresistible force must overcome. Their romance is complicated by Latham since he, too, is attracted to Daphne.
This is the 4th (and presumably the last) in The Rarest Blooms series, and in many ways it is the most delightful since it is Castleford's story. We've been fascinated by the Duke since book 1, and Madeline Hunter has created a unique, lovable rogue who delights us with his off-kilter viewpoint of life. While I'm a huge Madeline Hunter fan, to me this book fell short in many ways. Daphne, despite personal heartaches that I could identify with, had little personality in this book -- which should have shown her at her best. Certainly I found her more endearing in Hunter's earlier works. Castleford, too, is a disappointment by book's end. He reforms himself (based on what he thinks Daphne would like), but his entire reformation is without sufficient catalyst and is at odds with the beliefs and actions we have come to expect from him. Plot, too, is lackluster. The Peterloo massacre is not set up well and fails to move us, while the climactic scene near the end can only be described as lame. It has no tension, no suspense, and our protagonist -- while stepping in to aid the heroine -- does little that is heroic in nature. Despite these drawbacks, however, the book is certainly worth reading for the laugh-out-loud dialogue that is exchanged between Castleford and his pals. The male-bonding scenes, too (such as the bed being dismantled), win our hearts equally as much as does Castleford's romance of Daphne.