Get it at Amazonfrom our DIK review: Robert Alan Graydon Blaisdell is the ninth Duke of Clermont. He’s young, he’s handsome, and he’s incredibly rich so, as far as society is concerned, he has everything. And when it comes to material things, that’s perfectly true. But while he may have been born with the proverbial silver spoon in his mouth, his early years were bereft of the things that really mattered - the love and affection of his parents. He’s also a most unusual duke in that not only does he have leanings towards radicalism, he actually wants to abolish the peerage. I’m writing this in 2013 and that hasn’t happened yet, so back in 1863 such sentiments were regarded as tantamount to treason and Robert has to tread very carefully. In public, he makes his case in the House of Lords, working towards getting bills passed that will improve the lot of the people by small increments. But in private (and in secret), he tries to help things along in other ways, by supporting trade unions and penning radical pamphlets to incite downtrodden workers to demand their rights and stand up to their all-powerful employers. It’s ironic really, that the one thing that protects him from prosecution for the latter activities is his rank. As a duke, he cannot be brought to trial in the courts, but rather tried by his peers, who would never convict him as he is one of their own.... Minerva Lane is quiet and unremarkable and wants to keep it that way. She has been living under an assumed name for years due to a massive scandal in her past, which left her scarred both physically and emotionally. But after she meets Robert, she begins to see that she is as trapped by her “nothingness” as she would have been trapped by the grip of scandal, and begins to want and to feel - something she has striven not to allow herself to do, knowing they will only lead to more disappointment. But there’s no putting the genie back in the bottle, and the scene in which Minnie rails at her great aunts, the ladies who took her in and brought her up, about all the ambitions and hopes she has squashed for so long is truly affecting. Robert is staying in Leicester, ostensibly to look over one of his business interests there, but in reality to write and distribute pro-union pamphlets among the disaffected workers and find out who is behind a spate of arrests and prosecutions for non-existent criminal sedition. It doesn’t take Minnie very long to work out who is behind the anonymous tracts, but unluckily, the captain of the local militia, having discovered that she is living under an assumed name, immediately suspects her of their authorship. Deciding the best way to clear her name and put the captain off the scent is to expose the true author, Minnie confronts Robert only to realise that he does this because he is one of the few who can speak out, protected as he is by privilege. Together, Robert and Minnie are a force to be reckoned with – but the thwarted captain isn’t going to let things rest and finds a truly despicable way to force Robert’s hand.
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