Never a Gentleman
If you are a reader who wants the hero to be a sensitive, chivalrous gentleman who falls in love with the heroine in the first chapter and treats her like a goddess (minus a few Big Misunderstandings), you will most likely have issues with Diccan Hilliard. However, if you prefer characters who aren’t perfect, but who grow and learn from their mistakes, you will understand Diccan and enjoy Never a Gentleman. I certainly did.
Diccan Hilliard, Regency spy and incomparable pet of the ton, did not expect to find himself naked, aroused, and in bed with Grace Fairchild, but that’s exactly the situation he wakes up to. It’s apparent to everyone in the house that Diccan was drugged and planted in Grace’s bed, but that doesn’t mean he’s off the hook. Neither Grace nor Diccan really want to marry, but if they don’t Grace will be disgraced and Diccan’s investigations will be compromised, so with special license in hand, these two strangers are made man and wife.
Diccan is a diplomat and a spy for the Government. He is part of a group of gentlemen under the aegis of Marcus Belden, Earl of Drake, and they are searching for the members of a group that call themselves the British Lions. The Lions are not happy with the state of Great Britain and they want to overthrow the King and the Prince Regent. Drake’s group has information that the Lions plan several assassinations, including that of the Duke of Wellington. Diccan has additional information that leads him to believe that Grace is also in danger and while he may not be happy with his marriage, he does not want an innocent and honorable woman to be harmed.
Grace is not a pet of the ton – far from it. She has followed the drum all over Europe with her general father, and the soldiers she befriended and nursed appoint themselves her protectors (Grace’s Grenadiers). With the war over, Society has no use for soldiers, and looks down on Grace for her devotion to them. In addition, Grace is very plain and slightly lame in a society that worships the beautiful.
Grace and Diccan begin marriage under terrible handicaps. Neither of them wanted to marry, and certainly not to each other. In good romance hero fashion, Diccan never talks to Grace, and certainly doesn’t tell her about the danger to her life. In the course of his investigations, he meets his old mistress Minette and has sex with her. When Grace discovers them, she is hurt down to her heart and paradoxically, so is Diccan. He has discovered the warm, intelligent and wonderful woman under the plain exterior and has grown to love Grace dearly. Of course, in good romance hero fashion he doesn’t tell her and they both end up in danger because of it.
Never a Gentleman is the middle book of a trilogy and it features a large cast of characters who evidently were introduced in the first book. I found the external plot confusing because I didn’t quite understand how the supporting characters fit into the grand scheme of things, but all in all, I was interested enough that I plan to get the first book in the series and the last as well. Eileen Dreyer writes fascinating characters who are real and not Regency cut-outs. No, Diccan does not behave very honorably and, yes, he makes Grace suffer, but despite all of the bad behavior on his part, they somehow manage to forge a strong bond and I predict their future will be a very happy one. Grace is an admirable heroine, strong and loving, and her slow blossoming from drab to exotic is one of the best features of the book.