Saturday, March 12, 2016
Mini-Review: Fool Me Twice by Meredith Duran
Title: Fool Me Twice
Author: Meredith Duran
Rating: 4 Stars
Oh, this was good. I didn't expect too much from it, despite the high ratings, likely because the set-up seemed doomed from the start but, this book. It's a difficult one to explain, only because it doesn't sound good--Olivia, an intelligent young girl, is on the run from a powerful duke who, for a reason unknown, wants Olivia dead. A poor orphan, completely alone in the world, Olivia is tired of running every time she begins to settle down. When she uncovers a secret that the Duke of Marwick harbors blackmail material against all the powerful lords of England, she makes it her mission to infiltrate his household and escape with the papers that will grant her freedom. But the Duke of Marwick has been locked in his room for months. Ever since the death of his first wife, he has not been himself and, as Olivia enters his household as a housekeeper, she realizes that before she can get her hands on the documents she needs, she will first have to lure the beast out of his lair.
Olivia is no physical beauty and Alastair is far from a beast, in appearance, but Fool Me Twice reads much like a classic tale of Beauty and the Beast with a historical twist. Olivia is snarky, witty, and brave, taunting Alastair and forcing him, slowly, to resume living. Meanwhile, she never ceases to search his house, whipping it into shape from her position as housekeeper and struggling to earn the respect, both of the lazy servants in the home and of Alastair who is both amused and enraged by her disregard of his authority. Their sexual chemistry isn't evident from the start but it grows, slowly but surely, and as Alastair grows into himself we begin to see that he is a true match for Olivia's strength and courage.
Another aspect I simply love about this book is that it doesn't venture down the path we expect it to. It doesn't follow a typical romantic set-up in the least and the unpredictability of what is about to happen--the sheer thrill and adventure of it--make it exceptional. I've read a lot of romance novels this month where the set-up has been stellar and the sexual tension simply leaping off the page but the ultimate pay-off seems too hollow for the struggle it took these characters to be together. With Fool Me Twice, though, that pay-off is well worth the wait and every page is perfectly crafted. I enjoyed this immensely, from the secondary characters to the revenge/blackmail schemes and, of course, the actual love story at the heart of this novel. I only wish I could re-read it as it if were the first time because that experience was ever so lovely. Nevertheless, I know this is one I'll be picking up in a few weeks, months, or years and sinking into; just like coming home.