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Duchess If You Dare

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Fans of Sarah MacLean, Vanessa Riley, and Julia London will adore this modern take on the Regency, filled with tough, empowered women meeting their matches in a sexy story from rising star Anabelle Bryant. From the glittering ballrooms of the ton to the city's grittiest corners, London has no shortage of wrongs in need of righting—and the Maidens of Mayhem are prepared for Fans of Sarah MacLean, Vanessa Riley, and Julia London will adore this modern take on the Regency, filled with tough, empowered women meeting their matches in a sexy story from rising star Anabelle Bryant. From the glittering ballrooms of the ton to the city's grittiest corners, London has no shortage of wrongs in need of righting—and the Maidens of Mayhem are prepared for the challenge. United by secrecy and sisterhood, these daring women from all walks of life aim to fight injustice wherever it takes them—even into the arms of unexpected love... These Regency Robin Hoods from USA Today bestselling author Anabelle Bryant are destined to storm into readers' hearts! Scarlett Wynn's tragic childhood taught her that life can be cruel to women with little power. So when a local seamstress disappears, Scarlett vows to find out why. Armed with a weapon and her courage, Scarlett scours London for clues—and crosses the unlikely path of Ambrose Cross, the Duke of Aylesford, at an unlikely place: an upscale brothel. The Duke is trying to solve a mystery of his own, and Scarlett is sure they can help each other—if she can resist the attraction that draws them together... As Duke, Ambrose is duty-bound to protect his family name from scandal, no matter the cost. But Scarlett's fearless spirit forces him to look beyond his world of privilege. Scarlett is as intoxicating as she is dangerous, igniting a fire in him like no other. But when the pair learn both mysteries they're trying to solve are tied to a string of missing women, the tangled scheme they uncover may put their lives, and their growing love, in mortal danger—and lead them to search their hearts like never before...


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Fans of Sarah MacLean, Vanessa Riley, and Julia London will adore this modern take on the Regency, filled with tough, empowered women meeting their matches in a sexy story from rising star Anabelle Bryant. From the glittering ballrooms of the ton to the city's grittiest corners, London has no shortage of wrongs in need of righting—and the Maidens of Mayhem are prepared for Fans of Sarah MacLean, Vanessa Riley, and Julia London will adore this modern take on the Regency, filled with tough, empowered women meeting their matches in a sexy story from rising star Anabelle Bryant. From the glittering ballrooms of the ton to the city's grittiest corners, London has no shortage of wrongs in need of righting—and the Maidens of Mayhem are prepared for the challenge. United by secrecy and sisterhood, these daring women from all walks of life aim to fight injustice wherever it takes them—even into the arms of unexpected love... These Regency Robin Hoods from USA Today bestselling author Anabelle Bryant are destined to storm into readers' hearts! Scarlett Wynn's tragic childhood taught her that life can be cruel to women with little power. So when a local seamstress disappears, Scarlett vows to find out why. Armed with a weapon and her courage, Scarlett scours London for clues—and crosses the unlikely path of Ambrose Cross, the Duke of Aylesford, at an unlikely place: an upscale brothel. The Duke is trying to solve a mystery of his own, and Scarlett is sure they can help each other—if she can resist the attraction that draws them together... As Duke, Ambrose is duty-bound to protect his family name from scandal, no matter the cost. But Scarlett's fearless spirit forces him to look beyond his world of privilege. Scarlett is as intoxicating as she is dangerous, igniting a fire in him like no other. But when the pair learn both mysteries they're trying to solve are tied to a string of missing women, the tangled scheme they uncover may put their lives, and their growing love, in mortal danger—and lead them to search their hearts like never before...

30 review for Duchess If You Dare

  1. 4 out of 5

    Tabatha (tab.talks.books)

    BOOKSTAGRAM | BOOK BLOG | AMAZON ⭐️⭐️⭐️💫 Thank you Annabelle Bryant & @NetGalley for the copy of this eARC in exchange for an honest review. This was a really cute mystery book. Nothing cliffhangery or nail biting. I knew who the main people in the sex trade scam was early on. This book touches on a topic that I feel most books in the genre historical/romance category don’t touch on-sex trading. It follows our heroine Scarlett who is part of a group of bad ass women the Maidens of Mayhem who are th BOOKSTAGRAM | BOOK BLOG | AMAZON ⭐️⭐️⭐️💫 Thank you Annabelle Bryant & @NetGalley for the copy of this eARC in exchange for an honest review. This was a really cute mystery book. Nothing cliffhangery or nail biting. I knew who the main people in the sex trade scam was early on. This book touches on a topic that I feel most books in the genre historical/romance category don’t touch on-sex trading. It follows our heroine Scarlett who is part of a group of bad ass women the Maidens of Mayhem who are the female robin-hoods of their time. And of course the Duke (Ambrose.) It starts with Scarletts seamstress who just vanishes one day-finding out she worked in a brothel-and then the story starts with trying to find this seamstress named Linie. The story just doesn’t seem completely developed, I feel I knew -just enough- to close out the story. I feel characters could have been explained more. I finished the book not really invested in any of the characters? The romance was great but we never really know what happened at the end. The book did end good with the beginning of the second book. It’s a very light romantic mystery.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Antonella

    SERIES: The Maidens of Mayhem #1 GENRE: historical romance TROPES: duke/commoner, mystery-solving CLIFFHANGER: no RATING: 4⭐ There is something to be said and loved about a woman who makes the best out of the hand she is dealt with. She is also fierce, loyal, and realistic. Scarlett is a heroine I adore to read about. Her impact is even higher as she is a heroine of a historical fiction novel. The storyline revolves around the mysterious disappearance of Scarlett's acquaintance. She is trying to lo SERIES: The Maidens of Mayhem #1 GENRE: historical romance TROPES: duke/commoner, mystery-solving CLIFFHANGER: no RATING: 4⭐ There is something to be said and loved about a woman who makes the best out of the hand she is dealt with. She is also fierce, loyal, and realistic. Scarlett is a heroine I adore to read about. Her impact is even higher as she is a heroine of a historical fiction novel. The storyline revolves around the mysterious disappearance of Scarlett's acquaintance. She is trying to look for clues that will help her to find her. And all clues lead to a brothel. There she meets duke of Aylesford, who is once again cleaning his brother's mess. It turns out they are looking for the same person. So they join forces. The new partnership leads to new enemies but also to a romance. There are a couple of twists and turns, heartfelt conversations, and some steamy moments. If you enjoy the real-life issues addressed, mystery plotline, strong heroine in your historical novel then this is a book for you. I'm interested in reading more books in this series! *Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the copy of the book in exchange for an honest review

  3. 5 out of 5

    Trisha Tomy

    Blog Review: https://trishadoeseverythingbutstudy2... I received a free e-ARC from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review! I did not like it. The sad thing is, I don't even know whether I didn't like it because it was worse than Outrageous, or because it was actually that bad. So, where to start. the biggest problem I had was the insta-love. Why, just why. And even worse, self-aware insta-love. It's one thing if you incorporate insta-love and then write it into the story as if it was drawn out Blog Review: https://trishadoeseverythingbutstudy2... I received a free e-ARC from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review! I did not like it. The sad thing is, I don't even know whether I didn't like it because it was worse than Outrageous, or because it was actually that bad. So, where to start. the biggest problem I had was the insta-love. Why, just why. And even worse, self-aware insta-love. It's one thing if you incorporate insta-love and then write it into the story as if it was drawn out, at least having the grace to give the reader the impression that they actually know and get each other. It's a completely different thing if they fall in love and then proceed to wonder about how they fell in love so fast, and surely this was too fast, and this was probably not the correct thing to be doing with your life; regaling with all the reasons as to why they shouldn't be together, and you're nodding along to it all saying EXACTLY you shouldn't be together. And then putting your head in your hands because now you can't even pretend to yourself that this was slowburn and some pages went missing. The next biggest problem I had with this was that even though the name of the series is Maidens of Mayhem, we got like three scenes of the Maidens total. I get that this is a romance, but if you're going to write it in a way that shows you'll be focusing on plot, and then give the series the name of these supposed badass feminists, at least tell me more about these feminists!??! The fact is, I wanted to know more about the Maidens, how they operate, who keeps funding them, what all they do, who tells them to do this, what their relationship is with each other, how they hide from the general public, do they hide from the general public (because this was pretty vague), what skills they have, how did they come about these skills, some insight into how they teach each other these skills; anything about their modus operandi really, but instead I was regaled with their undying love for each other, traumatic pasts, and repetitive thoughts about why they won't work. The saving grace this had was that I was not regaled with too many sex thoughts, and it wasn't as explicit as Outrageous, and that there was only like one scene. And a half maybe. On the whole, not a good experience. I would recommend it to people who can handle insta-love, and who went into the book expecting it to focus on romance.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Bethany

    DNF at 25% The premise of this sounded great but unfortunately it's not really working for me. Duchess If You Dare is supposed to be a fun historical romance about dangerous ladies fighting for social justice. But so far a lot of it is just the main characters moralizing about the supposed horrors of prostitution in a pretty condescending way that lacks nuance. There's talk of "it's not their fault that they have to do this to survive" which might seem fine at first glance, but there is no distin DNF at 25% The premise of this sounded great but unfortunately it's not really working for me. Duchess If You Dare is supposed to be a fun historical romance about dangerous ladies fighting for social justice. But so far a lot of it is just the main characters moralizing about the supposed horrors of prostitution in a pretty condescending way that lacks nuance. There's talk of "it's not their fault that they have to do this to survive" which might seem fine at first glance, but there is no distinction between women who are forced into it by necessity and women who might choose this profession for other reasons. And there's the main character who "would NEVER!" *gasp* sell her body, and the hero who wonders why she's in this brothel because she has modest clothes with nice fabric. I just found it all immensely irritating. If you're going to lead into a plot about sex trafficking (which is absolutely horrific) and the potential dangers to women engaged in sex work, then approach it in a way that offers nuance. Don't make all the women involved either victims or villains. Some might be victims, some might be villains, but making it so black and white for every character is disempowering and promotes a problematic savior complex. I find this kind of plot really frustrating because it CAN be done well, and I've seen romance authors tackle this difficult subject with grace and respect. This just isn't it. Additionally, the hero and heroine so far are a bit bland and lack chemistry. So yeah. Not the book for me. We need to do better in how we portray sex workers. I received an advance copy of this book for review via NetGalley. All opinions are my own.

  5. 4 out of 5

    eyes.2c

    Regency ladies taking charge Unusual subject matter here. A group of women calling themselves the Maidens of Mayhem fighting to uplift the plight of women in London including prostitutes. They “had banded together with a vow to right wrongs in London and fight for women who had no voice against male harassment or otherwise unjust travesties thrust upon their gender.“ worthy indeed but to me the women seemed somewhat distant, they’re waiting stage right as it were. I was a tad nonplussed by how fl Regency ladies taking charge Unusual subject matter here. A group of women calling themselves the Maidens of Mayhem fighting to uplift the plight of women in London including prostitutes. They “had banded together with a vow to right wrongs in London and fight for women who had no voice against male harassment or otherwise unjust travesties thrust upon their gender.“ worthy indeed but to me the women seemed somewhat distant, they’re waiting stage right as it were. I was a tad nonplussed by how flimsy their support for each other appeared. I know this is the first in the series but that part was somewhat lacklustre. Wycombe House owned by Julia Wycombe is apparently for them a place where in a “society disinclined to allow females to conduct business, own property or invest finances without the consent or participation of a male, the ... building [has] became their fortress of secrets.” Again I loved the concept ... but! Scarlett Wynn, “illegitimate daughter of a destitute commoner” treads the streets of the darkest alleyways of London by night dressed in trousers made for her by a young seamstress Linie, accompanied only by her strong will and deadly knives. When Linie disappears and the spectre of young women being lured away to become sex slaves raises its ugly head, Scarlett starts investigating. That’s when she runs into Ambrose Cross, fourth Duke of Aylesford, watching the same place but for different reasons. Their searches combine as does their regard for each other, that of course becomes rather more than a few kisses. Alas I felt the pages spent on their trysting was a tad gratuitous and would've been better spent building up other parts of the story. What will their relationship become—this is a girl from the wrong side of the tracks after all and a duke needs more? Scarlett thinking she wasn’t worthy definitely didn’t meet my expectations of a 'mayhemic' maiden. As challenges are solved and relationships questioned I was not convinced by Aylesbury. He was just too wooden for me. Scarlett I adored, but I didn’t feel she soared as she could have. I wanted her to be more 'mayhemy'. Still her character raised my star allotment from 2 to 3. Too many subplots and resolutions too quickly come by, hints of things to come (a Wise Woman?Hmm!) hampered things for me. I felt like there was a prelude that I’d missed somehow. The Bow Street Runner Howell seemed full on in the beginning and then ... A Kensington Books ARC via NetGalley Please note: Quotes taken from an advanced reading copy maybe subject to change

  6. 5 out of 5

    Natasja | natasjalovesbooks

    This was not very exciting. The blurb promised more than the book delivered. The Maidens of Mayhem weren't a very active or interesting part of the story, which, truth be told, didn't bother me much because I'm generally not a fan of these 'ladies protecting London' storylines, but it might bother other readers expecting a female Robin Hood-like situation, as the blurb states. What did bother me was that the book wanted to be a historical romance mystery, but it was very short on the mystery and This was not very exciting. The blurb promised more than the book delivered. The Maidens of Mayhem weren't a very active or interesting part of the story, which, truth be told, didn't bother me much because I'm generally not a fan of these 'ladies protecting London' storylines, but it might bother other readers expecting a female Robin Hood-like situation, as the blurb states. What did bother me was that the book wanted to be a historical romance mystery, but it was very short on the mystery and the romance was ... tepid. I'll start with the mystery - Scarlett's seamstress goes missing one day and it's revealed that she has a little side hustle at the brothel, where, wouldn't you know it, several other women have gone missing too. Ambrose, the Duke of Aylesford, somehow gets involved in this little mystery plot too, but through circumstances that are, frankly, silly. Well, now our hero and heroine are involved in a SEX TRAFFICKING PLOT, which is obviously the most romantic subplot, and lo and behold, they have sexual chemistry. I know I always get hot and heavy when I'm investigating the kidnapping and sexual slavery of poor people. Anyway, this is definitely a subplot because Scarlett and Ambrose are more interested in lusting after each other than doing any real investigative work, and as the book neared its end and they'd accomplished nothing really, enter one of my most hated sub-subplots in HR: the kidnapping! Well, it's over soon, thankfully, and the hero and heroine realize that, hey, they love each other! If this kidnapping hadn't occurred, would the poor sods ever have realized it? Probably not because these kinds of characters are rarely self-aware enough to recognize their own feelings unless extreme circumstances force them to. (This is mostly a dig at everyone who ever introduces a kidnapping at the close of the story, because I HATE IT SO MUCH. Bryant is really unfortunate that this is my second HR in a row with a ridiculous kidnapping-followed-by-please-be-my-duchess-yes-I-will-be-your-duchess, but she's still guilty of the offense). I think there's potential here, but overall it wasn't for me. I didn't care about the characters, their romantic feelings for one another felt lackluster, I thought the whole sexual slavery thing really put a damper on things, and there's an unfortunate habit of internal monologue being reiterated constantly. There's one scene in particular, where both Ambrose and Scarlett's thoughts are 80% "We only have this one night together." I get it, you only have one night together! Stop saying it! Also, at the end, Scarlett, Ambrose AND Bryant barely seem to care about the seamstress who started it all, and the whole mystery fizzles out with a secondary character just telling Ambrose what's been going on. Exciting stuff. I received an ARC from the publishers through NetGalley. All opinions are my own.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

    'Scarlett Wynn's tragic childhood taught her that life can be cruel to women with little power. So when a local seamstress disappears, Scarlett vows to find out why. Armed with a weapon and her courage, Scarlett scours London for clues—and crosses the unlikely path of Ambrose Cross, the Duke of Aylesford, at an unlikely place: an upscale brothel. The Duke is trying to solve a mystery of his own, and Scarlett is sure they can help each other—if she can resist the attraction that draws them togeth 'Scarlett Wynn's tragic childhood taught her that life can be cruel to women with little power. So when a local seamstress disappears, Scarlett vows to find out why. Armed with a weapon and her courage, Scarlett scours London for clues—and crosses the unlikely path of Ambrose Cross, the Duke of Aylesford, at an unlikely place: an upscale brothel. The Duke is trying to solve a mystery of his own, and Scarlett is sure they can help each other—if she can resist the attraction that draws them together... As Duke, Ambrose is duty-bound to protect his family name from scandal, no matter the cost. But Scarlett's fearless spirit forces him to look beyond his world of privilege. Scarlett is as intoxicating as she is dangerous, igniting a fire in him like no other. But when the pair learn both mysteries they're trying to solve are tied to a string of missing women, the tangled scheme they uncover may put their lives, and their growing love, in mortal danger—and lead them to search their hearts like never before...' ___________________________ 2.5 stars, rounded up to 3 stars. Duchess If You Dare is the first book in Anabelle Bryant's new series, The Maidens of Mayhem, which is a historical mystery and romance series.  I really wanted to like this book, but there were many issues that prevented me from being able to. The author seemed really unclear whether she was writing a mystery, a romance, or a blend of the two. Instead of these two aspects of the plot working together to make the story stronger, one was always being brushed under the rug so the author could dedicate a few chapters to the other. What resulted from this was a real sense of disjointed storytelling. I was intrigued by the mystery to start, but it progressed very slowly. That isn't always a bad thing if it is gradually building, but this was more a series of starts and stops. But still, I was interested enough to stick with it to see how it would turn out. This series is called The Maidens of Mayhem and so I assume that each book will be about one of the ladies of this supposedy tight-knit group that works together to fight the injustices of society. But...are they really much of a team? They were barely even in the book, there is really only one scene with all four members and it is short. Their purpose and direction as a group is never really made clear. We don't even know anything about two of the members, aside from their names. Does anyone have skills to lend to this group aside from Scarlett? Overall the book was alright, but I was disappointed. I feel like it had a lot of potential and could have been so much better, but it suffered from a lack of focus. I wouldn't personally recommend it and I don't believe I'll be continuing with the series because we didn't get to know the other characters enough for me to be interested in reading their own stories. _____ I would like to thank NetGalley and Kensington Books, Zebra for sharing an eARC of Duchess If You Dare with me.This is my honest review.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Anatl

    I've just finished Duchess If You Dare with mixed feelings. I enjoyed parts of it, but there were a few things that bothered me a little here and there. It reminded me a lot of Bringing Down the Duke, both novels deal with a huge class divide between the heroine who is a nobody and a duke who shoulders many responsibilities and values his family name above all things. The whole novel revolves around Duke of Aylesford, Ambrose becoming involved in the mystery of missing young women who work in br I've just finished Duchess If You Dare with mixed feelings. I enjoyed parts of it, but there were a few things that bothered me a little here and there. It reminded me a lot of Bringing Down the Duke, both novels deal with a huge class divide between the heroine who is a nobody and a duke who shoulders many responsibilities and values his family name above all things. The whole novel revolves around Duke of Aylesford, Ambrose becoming involved in the mystery of missing young women who work in brothels because of his debauched brother. I must say that I found this premise a little far fetched, because I fund it hard to believe that a man of his day and age let alone his station will be troubled by the fate of a few sex workers. While the plot seemed too contrived, the characters were not bad. Ambrose was very noble and steadfast, and Scarlett is the quintessential strong heroine, ahead of her time in many ways. She has a dim view of men due to tragic fate of her mother and she values her freedom and independence. She seems to traipse around London in areas that are not safe even for Ambrose. She also doesn't need saving but quite the other way around she has a tendency to help and rescue the duke, which I rather liked. All in all this was a quick and enjoyable read. Thank you Net Galley for supplying this copy for me to review. #DuchessIfYouDare #NetGalley

  9. 5 out of 5

    Brinley

    As soon as I saw this cover, I knew I wanted this book. It was gorgeous, and the title made this look like it would be a fun read. Sadly, it's one of the books that you read and then immediately forget, there's nothing special about it. Considering one of our main characters is a Maiden of Mayhem, I expected there to be mayhem. I wanted to see her disturbing things, to cause problems. Instead, she was pretty stationary. The few scenes we got with the Maidens of Mayhem were rushed, and very littl As soon as I saw this cover, I knew I wanted this book. It was gorgeous, and the title made this look like it would be a fun read. Sadly, it's one of the books that you read and then immediately forget, there's nothing special about it. Considering one of our main characters is a Maiden of Mayhem, I expected there to be mayhem. I wanted to see her disturbing things, to cause problems. Instead, she was pretty stationary. The few scenes we got with the Maidens of Mayhem were rushed, and very little happened. This was super disappointing, because I was totally down for a book about women owning it and solving mysteries. I also just found our main character bland. I kept waiting for her background to be revealed, as most of the novel I'd spent referencing how traumatic and terrible it was. I wanted to know what happened to her mother, and what pushed her to be so passionate about defending women. She didn't have much else, so I wanted to at least know something about her. Even though the mystery was pretty disappointing, I was hoping that we'd get a romance I could root for. That wasn't the case here. We got terrible insta-love, an instant connection, and lukewarm chemistry. We're constantly told how attracted to each other these characters are, but I couldn't feel it. I just didn't care about either of them. Although I didn't enjoy this book, I think there's definite potential in this series! The setting was fun, but the execution could've been better... Thanks to Anabelle Bryant and Netgalley for providing a free copy in exchange for an honest review

  10. 5 out of 5

    nikki_is_booked

    Synopsis: What do a Duke and a Maiden of Mayhem have in common? Absolutely nothing, so when Ambrose and Scarlett start running into each other everywhere they quickly realize they are investigating the same mysterious disappearances. Despite their drastically different backgrounds, Ambrose and Scarlett begin to work together toward a common goal. Falling in love with each other was not part of the plan to solve the mystery and their new found romance could put them both in peril... What I liked: Synopsis: What do a Duke and a Maiden of Mayhem have in common? Absolutely nothing, so when Ambrose and Scarlett start running into each other everywhere they quickly realize they are investigating the same mysterious disappearances. Despite their drastically different backgrounds, Ambrose and Scarlett begin to work together toward a common goal. Falling in love with each other was not part of the plan to solve the mystery and their new found romance could put them both in peril... What I liked: -When the mystery finally unravels it was fast-paced, complex, surprising, and intense... everything you could want in the climax of a case -I loved how fiercely independent Scarlett is to the point that she is able to rescue Ambrose in one of their early meetings (reminded me so much of Drew Barrymore in Ever After saving the prince from pirates). I also enjoyed watching her learn to accept love and help from Ambrose while realizing that doesn’t make her less self-sufficient. -I really liked how this book tackled real issues: living conditions of the poor, women’s rights, and the socio-economic class divide were all explored thoroughly in an interesting and informative way that still felt real for the time and context of this story. -Martin... He is hysterical and his scenes always made me chuckle. Would love to see more of him next book. -The large cast of characters kept this book interesting and left plenty of room for red herrings for Scarlett and Ambrose as well as the reader. What I didn’t like: -I would have really liked to see more interaction between the Maidens of Mayhem... hoping we will see more of their relationships and backstory of their group in the next book -the pacing for the first 60% of the novel was a little slow... I started to wonder if this was going to be one of those annoying books that leave you on a ginormous cliff hanger by the time I hit 70% because I had no idea how the author was going to wrap everything up (but she did and did a great job at it so do keep reading). Overall thoughts: I really enjoyed this book. I loved the story, the elements of mystery weaved in with the romance, the “club” of strong, independent ladies striving to make London safer for the weak, and how the book neatly wraps everything up leaving room to explore another Maiden of Mayhem with a new storyline in the next book. I will definitely be reading future Maiden of Mayhem books. Read if you liked... Bringing Down The Duke & A Rogue of One’s Own by Evie Dunmore Who’s That Earl by Susanna Craig Notorious by Minerva Spencer

  11. 5 out of 5

    ItaPixie

    The name of this series made me really curious, I've enjoyed it, the author expertly depicted the less shining part of London but I expected more mayhem from these ladies. Scarlett Wynn joined a group of women who watch and protect the most defenseless and try to fight the abuses of the powerful. When her seamstress goes missing she begins to look for her getting involved into something very dangerous, fortunately she also finds the unexpected help of the Duke of Aylesford. Ambrose Cross, fourth The name of this series made me really curious, I've enjoyed it, the author expertly depicted the less shining part of London but I expected more mayhem from these ladies. Scarlett Wynn joined a group of women who watch and protect the most defenseless and try to fight the abuses of the powerful. When her seamstress goes missing she begins to look for her getting involved into something very dangerous, fortunately she also finds the unexpected help of the Duke of Aylesford. Ambrose Cross, fourth Duke of Aylesford, has to save once again his younger brother but this time things are pretty shady so he decides to investigate some more, but he is too flashy on the bad streets of London so he finds an ally in an intriguing woman. Will they solve this mysterious disappearance or will they get hurt trying? I liked the mystery plot even if at the end it feels rushed. I'm not too convinced about the romance between the two main characters because I see a too big economic and social gap between them, but in the end I'm still a sucker for romance so I want to believe in their happily ever after. Duchess If You Dare was easy to read and overall a nice one.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

    The blurb was intriguing (as is the cover), but this didn't live up to the promise of the premise for me. "Maidens of Mayhem"/Robin Hood type vibes sounds great, but there's no mayhem and we don't even see much of a Robin Hood premise either. I guess they're subversive, but we don't get a lot of time with the maidens to understand how they were formed, what they do, and what their overall mission is. And sure, Scarlett can fight and use knives, but what else does she do with her day? Her hero is The blurb was intriguing (as is the cover), but this didn't live up to the promise of the premise for me. "Maidens of Mayhem"/Robin Hood type vibes sounds great, but there's no mayhem and we don't even see much of a Robin Hood premise either. I guess they're subversive, but we don't get a lot of time with the maidens to understand how they were formed, what they do, and what their overall mission is. And sure, Scarlett can fight and use knives, but what else does she do with her day? Her hero isn't terribly exciting--he's a duke who talks all the time about his power to do things because he's a duke, but he also thinks that he can't marry Scarlett because she's a commoner and it's not done (but it's totally fine to sleep with her and ask her to be his mistress). Neither of them felt fully formed, and as a result, their chemistry is lacking. The story itself is a blend of mystery and romance, but they aren't intertwined properly so it feels disjoined. Also, the mystery feels incomplete--(view spoiler)[there are certainly more people involved, but once the main baddies are dealt with, that was good enough for Scarlett and Ambrose. And Scarlett seems to forget all about Linie, who started the whole thing? (hide spoiler)] I just couldn't get on board with this one. Thanks to NetGalley and Kensington for the ARC.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Darlene

    This is a captivating Regency Romance with a little bit of mystery thrown in. I think my only problem with the book was in thinking it was really a mystery. The description on Goodreads definitely led me to that conclusion, so I think that could use an update. I'm not really a romance fan, so I was caught off-guard. The book does seem to start off as a mystery but quickly drops the pretense. When Scarlette Wynn's favorite dressmaker disappears, she sets out to find what happened to her but is qui This is a captivating Regency Romance with a little bit of mystery thrown in. I think my only problem with the book was in thinking it was really a mystery. The description on Goodreads definitely led me to that conclusion, so I think that could use an update. I'm not really a romance fan, so I was caught off-guard. The book does seem to start off as a mystery but quickly drops the pretense. When Scarlette Wynn's favorite dressmaker disappears, she sets out to find what happened to her but is quickly distracted by the luscious Duke Ambrose. In fact, she forgets to look for the poor dressmaker for about 100 pages until she is kidnapped for getting in the way of the wicked human traffickers who apparently thought she and the duke were still on their trail. It is a good historical romance. The characters are interesting and well-developed. However, don't pick it up thinking it's a mystery or you will be disappointed. Thank you Goodreads Giveaway for the advanced reader copy to read and review.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Renaissance Kate

    DNF at 50% I had the ominous and disappointing feeling around the 33% mark I might not want to finish this book, but I decided to give it until the midpoint because I was enjoying the mystery element. Unfortunately I should have trusted my gut and moved on sooner. First off, I agree wholeheartedly with Bethany's review regarding the representation of sex work in this book. It could have been executed much better than it was, as it felt more like a plot device for the mystery aspect and to enhance DNF at 50% I had the ominous and disappointing feeling around the 33% mark I might not want to finish this book, but I decided to give it until the midpoint because I was enjoying the mystery element. Unfortunately I should have trusted my gut and moved on sooner. First off, I agree wholeheartedly with Bethany's review regarding the representation of sex work in this book. It could have been executed much better than it was, as it felt more like a plot device for the mystery aspect and to enhance Scarlett's backstory. I initially really liked the idea of the Maidens of Mayhem, Scarlett's group of vigilante women who patrol the streets keeping order and ensuring the vulnerable are protected. I was intrigued by Ambrose's role as the dutiful oldest son contrasted with his reckless younger brother Martin, who was actually my favorite character. However, the circumstances that brought Scarlett and Ambrose together felt a little far-fetched, and I honestly did not feel the chemistry between them. When they shared their first kiss I did not see sparks in the slightest which...isn't usually a good sign in a Romance novel. The author also had Scarlett regularly spout ideas regarding the unfair treatment of women in society in a clear attempt to be feminist, but it was too on-the-nose. Many of these ideas were implied by the plot and setting, so having Scarlett repeat them ad nauseam eventually became obnoxious. I gave up when, at the 50% mark, Ambrose became overly protective and territorial of Scarlet at a ball. He acted uncharacteristically feral towards his brother and friend, both of whom were among the many men lusting over Scarlett, who of course was the most beautiful woman in the room. It was disappointing to see Ambrose become such an alpha-hole when he initially respected Scarlett's vigilante, trouser-wearing ways and was not emasculated in the slightest when she was the one who rescued him from danger just a few chapters before. And Ambrose does think at one point how much Scarlett is not like the other girls he's used to meeting in high society. I did enjoy some of the side characters and thought this premise had a lot of promise, but sadly it was not a winner for me. Thank you to Kensington Books/Zebra via Netgalley for providing an eARC in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Olívia

    Thank you to Kensington Books for providing me this arc via Netgalley! First of all, I have to adress this beautiful cover. Romance covers, both contemporary and historical, were always a big no for me, but the new designs that have been showing up the last few years are absolutely gorgeous and have been drawing me more towards the genre. In regards to the book itself, it is not life changing, but it was fun and entertaining, so if that's what you're looking for, go for it! I did like the little tw Thank you to Kensington Books for providing me this arc via Netgalley! First of all, I have to adress this beautiful cover. Romance covers, both contemporary and historical, were always a big no for me, but the new designs that have been showing up the last few years are absolutely gorgeous and have been drawing me more towards the genre. In regards to the book itself, it is not life changing, but it was fun and entertaining, so if that's what you're looking for, go for it! I did like the little twist at the end and will probably be reading the next books in this series - I can't resist a regency hero called Sebastian. This only wasn't a 4 star read because of a quote near the end that, in my opinion, questioned the entirety of the heroine's character and personality.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Marie

    “Either way, my curiosity was piqued. How could I resist a rare invitation from a Maiden of Mayhem, a beautiful and vigilant fighter against crime? I’d be a fool.” Anabelle Bryant takes you on another exciting mystery solving story in regency London but made it even more thrilling and exciting with her romance between a duke and a clever commoner who knows how to throw a knife. The background story is quite simple but effective. It starts with Scarlett searching for her friend who disappeared aft “Either way, my curiosity was piqued. How could I resist a rare invitation from a Maiden of Mayhem, a beautiful and vigilant fighter against crime? I’d be a fool.” Anabelle Bryant takes you on another exciting mystery solving story in regency London but made it even more thrilling and exciting with her romance between a duke and a clever commoner who knows how to throw a knife. The background story is quite simple but effective. It starts with Scarlett searching for her friend who disappeared after being last seen in a brothel. There she encounters our grumpy duke, who is trying to solve the mess in which his little brother put himself. As they pursue their own goals, they realize that their paths are intertwined and decide to work together (or more accurately to allow one another to seduce the other one and get seduced). If the mystery story is good enough to hold some interest for most of the book, the quality started to decrease towards the end... (it did gain some thrill back in the last few chapters but it was not the smoothest end to a plot) which is a bit disappointing but to be fair, this fault in the storytelling was completely balanced by the romance part of the story. I really was more compelled to see how would Ambrose and Scarlett resolve their romantic conflict than solving the disappearance of the seamstress! The first reason might be that Scarlett was a well written, badass, self-confident, glorious fighter lady. That wearing trousers and throwing knives at men is her daily agenda, alongside solving the wrongs done to women in the city and with an extra time slot for saving dukes in a fight or passionate kissing in dark alleys! I mean, doesn't she sound like the perfect heroine? The second reason would then probably be our duke, Ambrose being a grumpy older brother, a slighty idiotic alpha on the edge (he is a duke after all) but redeems himself by being a clever compassionate man who wills himself to learn and do better. I really like how whenever he did sound condescending and annoying, his character naturally grows and offers better ideas and thoughts a few lines or chapters later. Often nowadays male heroes are just a bit too polished and sadly men aren't that charming and therefore those characters become less appealing as they are just too perfect. But i do enjoy a rough duke learning and changing his opinions when life helps him opening his eyes. And as a side note, i also appreciate a Duke who offers you a warm bath and strawberries with cream after you just risked being killed... honestly *chef's kiss* on his part! I also enjoy a duke learning his lessons by the hand of a fierce lady and for the love of her. The third reason was Scarlett and Ambrose's romance. Even if it is a a case of insta lust, the fiery and passionate side (why do kisses in dark alleys are so exciting, i don't know… "Kissing in public, never mind a dark alley in a questionable neighborhood, was improper. Indecent. Downright reckless. The actions of a second son. Not a duke. But damn, it was glorious". but my sensible self just loves this risky non sense a lot, just like Ambrose) grows into an angsty romance when they acknowledge all the reasons that keep them apart (little romeo & juliet vibe), and i do love a good forbidden romance... Again, their conflict did resolve itself a bit quickly but the last chapters are so well paced and lead to such an exciting thrill when their emotional journey peak with the solving of the mystery that it really didn't matter in the following chapters were a big weak… That's how taken i was with Anabelle Bryant storytelling, i didn't get disappointed by some weakness because i cared too much about our heroes emotions and their romance!! I will also add that some lines were perfectly lovely and beautifully written. This romance is out tomorrow, on the 30th of March! PS: the next hero is called sebastian and i am obviously over the moon about this new seb romance hero!! early copy was kindly provided by netgalley.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Georgia

    More on Chill and read I do like strong heroines, women who can look after themselves, you can think for themselves, who are not dependent to someone else to take care of them or to provide for them. Therefore when I read the description of Anabelle Bryant new book on NetGalley I knew this would be a book I would enjoy. And it didn’t disappoint. Scarlett Wynn is a woman that had a really tough childhood. She was not the daughter of a nobleman, not even the daughter of a merchant, or a daughter of More on Chill and read I do like strong heroines, women who can look after themselves, you can think for themselves, who are not dependent to someone else to take care of them or to provide for them. Therefore when I read the description of Anabelle Bryant new book on NetGalley I knew this would be a book I would enjoy. And it didn’t disappoint. Scarlett Wynn is a woman that had a really tough childhood. She was not the daughter of a nobleman, not even the daughter of a merchant, or a daughter of a wealthy man. She only knew her mother, who has fought to her last breath for their survival. So she knows that life can be really cruel to women that are born poor and with little or no power. So when her seamstress suddenly disappears she is determined to find out why. Thanks to her training she is not afraid to venture in the night with the company of her knives, following the few clues she can find to an upscale brothel. There she meets Ambrose Cross, the Duke of Aylesford, who is trying to solve a mystery as well. Ambrose has his own place in society. He is one of the Prince’s advisors, someone to be respected and with power in the House of Lords. He has his and his family’s name and reputation to protect. No scandals should break out at no cost. But when he finds himself in a wild goose chase he comes to understand that there is a whole different world apart from his own. One that real people with families live in, people with no privilege. And that these people deserve as much as he does when it comes to safety and freedom. This new knowledge has come from the woman he cooperates in order to do a noble act and solve a mystery that was revealed to him. As their cooperation and investigation proceeds, the two of them realize that their interests are connected rather tightly to a string of missing women, which they are both very much determined to uncover. But the waters they are sailing are rather deep and they may find themselves in danger. One of the tropes that are found in historical romances is the noble commoner trope and this is what we have here as well. They come from different worlds and from different pasts. Ambrose has only lived the life of a Duke, or the life of someone destined to become a Duke, so he only knows that life. He is not taught about the poor neighborhoods of London and the people that try to survive in those muddy streets. He may hold a position in the House of Lords, but he barely knows the people he speaks for or the ones his decisions affect. On the other hand Scarlett grew up in those muddy streets but she found a way to come out as clean as possible. She knows how to defend herself because that was the only way she could stay alive without anyone looking after her. She has seen too many women being treated worse than animals and she has vowed to defend them. She knows how different her world is from the ton and she knows those people don’t see life clearly. They see it through the prism of their own life. The mystery was there from the beginning. There were fighting scenes that one would not expect from a woman of Scarlett’s era, but they were a refreshing touch, if I may say. Parts of the mystery were pretty obvious very early, but it didn’t bother me as I was not reading this book for the mystery plot. I knew it was a historical romance, and this is were the plot was going to focus. Which was a good thing though as the romance part was really good. We had the different worlds, the different pasts and the second thoughts they both had. Overall, it was a very enjoyable story to read. This is the first book in The Maidens of Mayhem series and I can’t wait for the next! Thank you to NetGalley & Kensington Books for an advance copy of this book. The views expressed are my personal and honest opinion.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Kelly (AndKellyReads)

    So, I liked this one, but I didn’t love it, and a lot of that had to do with how absolutely wordy it was. I don’t know if it was my headspace, or if I just didn’t vibe with the writing style, but I found myself skimming a lot of this story. Now, overall, I did enjoy the plot and the characters. I thought that Scarlett and Ambrose were delightful characters, and I absolutely loved the Maidens of Mayfair and what they stand (stood?) for. Scarlett is fierce, she is loyal, and she’s dangerous, and s So, I liked this one, but I didn’t love it, and a lot of that had to do with how absolutely wordy it was. I don’t know if it was my headspace, or if I just didn’t vibe with the writing style, but I found myself skimming a lot of this story. Now, overall, I did enjoy the plot and the characters. I thought that Scarlett and Ambrose were delightful characters, and I absolutely loved the Maidens of Mayfair and what they stand (stood?) for. Scarlett is fierce, she is loyal, and she’s dangerous, and she was the type of character that the historical romance genre has been missing. A woman running around the streets of London in the dead of night in trousers taking down bad guys? Yes, please! Part of a secret club of other women who are also off investigating their own bad guys? Love it! Ambrose catches her completely off guard which was a lot of fun as a reader, and while I loved their relationship, it lacked the depth I wanted to feel. Ambrose falls into my new favorite niche category of “dukes struggling to decide if they can ditch their duty and follow their hearts instead” and I loved that for him. He was raised believing he had to honor his duty, which is understandable, but every moment he spent in Scarlett’s company tested that belief of his a little more. But again, it was insta-love without a lot of reasoning, because so much time was spent focused on their overall mission, and I think it detracted from what could have been a sweet love story. I also want to add that I loved their mission and what they were fighting for. I think it was a unique twist and brought a little oomph to the story, but as I mentioned before it was just kind of wordy. I found sections repetitive, I found them lengthy, and I think a lot of it was kind of unnecessary? Like I said I skimmed and didn’t really miss a thing and instead found myself wishing we had spent some of those words on Scarlett and Ambrose developing their relationship. It may have been a bit shallow, but it was certainly steamy, so I think that definitely made up for some of my disappointment. Overall this book was okay. I wish it had been less redundant because I really did enjoy the overall idea behind it, but the execution was just a little flat. I’ll definitely try another book by Annabelle Bryant in the future because I’m not giving up hope just yet. {Many thanks to Netgalley and Kensington Books for my review copy!}

  19. 5 out of 5

    Rupal Rao

    Thanks to Netgalley and Kensington Books for the e-arc of Duchess If You Dare by Anabelle Bryant. All opinions are my own. This book was everything I anticipated and more. What do a Duke and a Maiden of Mayhem have in common? Absolutely nothing, so when Ambrose, the Duke of Aylesford, composed, always in control and reputed runs into Scarlett, the fearless, independent maiden. a rebel against society, Ambrose gets a taste of freedom and Scarlett gets a sense of security. Both the characters are Thanks to Netgalley and Kensington Books for the e-arc of Duchess If You Dare by Anabelle Bryant. All opinions are my own. This book was everything I anticipated and more. What do a Duke and a Maiden of Mayhem have in common? Absolutely nothing, so when Ambrose, the Duke of Aylesford, composed, always in control and reputed runs into Scarlett, the fearless, independent maiden. a rebel against society, Ambrose gets a taste of freedom and Scarlett gets a sense of security. Both the characters are so likeable! Our badass heroine prefers pants over layers of skirts, can throw knives like ninjas and is not afraid of anything. The first half of the book was quite slow, but the second was as tempting and delectable as Scarlett was to Ambrose. I love how this book tackled real issues like living conditions of the poor, women’s rights, and the socio-economic class divide were all explored thoroughly in an interesting and informative way that still felt real for the time and context of this story. The second half of the book and the resolving of the mystery is fast paced, unexpected and everything you'd want in a climax. I absolutely love their romance and their character development through out the book. The only complain I have is with the ending, it just went with a rush. This book is the first part in "The Maidens of Mayhem" series and I believe each part would be revolved around one members of their club. I would be looking forward to the sequels!

  20. 5 out of 5

    Vintagebooklvr

    A man whose life is ruled by duty. A woman who is a Maiden of Mayhem, fighting to right women’s wrongs in Regency London. A bumpy road indeed. Scarlett and Ambrose make a great couple. She knocks him off his high horse and loosens him up a bit. He opens her up to love. They create sparks but there are obstacles in the way, and some of that is in the plot and characterization. Scarlett is someone that the modern reader can identify with. She saves the duke when he enters into the bad parts of Londo A man whose life is ruled by duty. A woman who is a Maiden of Mayhem, fighting to right women’s wrongs in Regency London. A bumpy road indeed. Scarlett and Ambrose make a great couple. She knocks him off his high horse and loosens him up a bit. He opens her up to love. They create sparks but there are obstacles in the way, and some of that is in the plot and characterization. Scarlett is someone that the modern reader can identify with. She saves the duke when he enters into the bad parts of London where he is sure he can take care of himself (I love that). She proves over and over again that she can do things he thinks she can’t. The only problem is it just isn’t realistic that she could get away with it as often as she does. I don’t buy that she would be able to be so easily accepted into a ton event when people were so conscious of the background of everyone even with a friend who has a title. That leads to the group the Maidens of Mayhem. The group needs to be better developed to be a carryover throughout the series. Bryant doesn’t really explain how they help each other. It needs more substance. The ending is a bit flat. The big scene is only described later as to how it comes about. People escape justice. I enjoyed the book and it had a happy ending. It just didn’t quite live up to the promise. Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for a copy of the ARC in return for an honest opinion.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Avigail

    #DuchessIfYouDare #NetGalley Thank you to Netgalley Kensington Books Zebra for the opportunity to read the e-arc of Duchess If You Dare, and I am voluntarily leaving my review. I loved both main characters, Scarlett and Ambrose. Scarlett is daring and fearless and fights injustice where she can. She crosses paths with Ambrose, trying to protect his family from the scandal by solving his own mystery. They start to work together as both their mysteries are intertwined. Chemistry and banter ensue as t #DuchessIfYouDare #NetGalley Thank you to Netgalley Kensington Books Zebra for the opportunity to read the e-arc of Duchess If You Dare, and I am voluntarily leaving my review. I loved both main characters, Scarlett and Ambrose. Scarlett is daring and fearless and fights injustice where she can. She crosses paths with Ambrose, trying to protect his family from the scandal by solving his own mystery. They start to work together as both their mysteries are intertwined. Chemistry and banter ensue as they work together to solve a mystery they are both intertwined in. I am sure to follow up with The Maidens of Mayhem series and other works of Anabelle Bryant.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Cheyenne

    Thank you Goodreads for the gift of this book in a Giveaway! I thought this was a cute story. Historical romance, mystery, and a bold female lead. What’s not to love? I enjoyed this quick-read and loved the non-traditional female characters.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Heather

    I loved this first book in a new historical romance series. I had to check to make sure this was a first book actually because you are dropped into the middle of a story. Scarlett is a woman who has grown up in the poor section of London, far away from the glittering world of the wealthy. She is associated with three other women who call themselves the Maidens of Mayhem. They aim to help people who the upper echelons of society don't care about. You don't find out much about how they got togeth I loved this first book in a new historical romance series. I had to check to make sure this was a first book actually because you are dropped into the middle of a story. Scarlett is a woman who has grown up in the poor section of London, far away from the glittering world of the wealthy. She is associated with three other women who call themselves the Maidens of Mayhem. They aim to help people who the upper echelons of society don't care about. You don't find out much about how they got together or what exactly they do in this book. That's part of the reason I thought this was maybe a later book in the series. I thought I missed the back story but I guess that will be explained as the series goes on. I liked Scarlett a lot. She's content with her life. She is making a difference in her part of London and isn't looking for a lot more. She has a seamstress friend who makes custom garments for her like trousers- gasp! When her friend goes missing she finds that she has been working a second job as a prostitute in a high end brothel. As she investigates, she finds that her friend isn't the first to go missing. But is this the normal attrition of life on the streets or something else? Ambrose is trying to rein in the excesses of his younger brother. He's summoned to the brothel to collect his brother when the younger man insists he heard a woman being abused. The owner of the brothel is not amused by his attempts to draw attention to the issue and Ambrose is obliged to pay her off to try to keep his brother's name out of the London gossip mill. His brother's insistence that something bad happened inspires Ambrose to investigate himself and that's where Scarlett and Ambrose come together. I liked that both characters had strong points of view and that they weren't points of view that I've seen in a dozen other historical romances. Scarlett is content with where she is in her life. She isn't looking for a husband. She doesn't need rescuing. She is actually quite offended to be patronized by this man who she knows looks down on her because of her class when in reality she is much more able to survive in the world than he is. Ambrose is very much about Being The Duke. He's used to people jumping to meet his every demand. Now he's moving through a part of society where being a Duke is irrelevant and he's completely thrown by that. He needs to actually be useful instead of relying on his social position to make things happen. I'm looking forward to reading more in this series and looking at other books from this author. https://flic.kr/p/2kSrC8u Purchase Links  UK Amazon Link: https://rb.gy/emdsdw   US Links: Amazon: https://rb.gy/ytoy31   Barnes & Noble : https://rb.gy/ebpuvi Kobo: https://rb.gy/mpgh91 Author Bio –  USA Today Bestselling author Anabelle Bryant began reading at age three and never stopped. Her passion for reading soon turned into a passion for writing and an author was born. Happy to grab her suitcase if it ensures a new adventure, Anabelle finds endless inspiration in travel; especially imaginary jaunts into romantic Regency England, a far cry from her home in New Jersey. Instead, her clever characters live out her daydreams because really, who wouldn't want to dance with a handsome duke or kiss a wicked earl? Anabelle's books have been translated into several languages including Japanese and Russian, but writing isn't all that keeps her busy. Building miniatures, baking and photography are other favorite pastimes. Often found with her nose in a book, Anabelle is just as happy in a room full of people. She enjoys meeting readers, attending conferences and book signings. She has earned her Master's Degree and is ABD for her Doctorate Degree in education. A firm believer in romance, Anabelle knows sometimes life doesn't provide a happily ever after, but her novels always do. Visit her website at AnabelleBryant.com Social Media Links –  Anabelle Bryant Links Website: http://www.anabellebryant.com  Facebook Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/AnabelleBryantAuthor   Newsletter: http://www.anabellebryant.com/contact-anabelle-1.html  Twitter: https://twitter.com/AnabelleBryant BookBub: https://www.bookbub.com/profile/anabelle-bryant Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/26491397-anabelle-bryant Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/anabellebryant/ This review was originally posted on Based On A True Story

  24. 4 out of 5

    Em (bibliophile_daydream)

    DNF at 70% I don't think I ever dnfed a historical romance because they are so light and fluffy that they tend to read easily, even if I'm not crazy interested in the story. This one proved to be the exception. Let's start with the things I liked. There are two. 1) The cover is very pretty. Love the illustration. 2) the female Robin Hood vibes were cool. I enjoyed the whole heroine saving the duke for a change dynamics. Now for the things I disliked. My main gripe was with the writing. It is so ve DNF at 70% I don't think I ever dnfed a historical romance because they are so light and fluffy that they tend to read easily, even if I'm not crazy interested in the story. This one proved to be the exception. Let's start with the things I liked. There are two. 1) The cover is very pretty. Love the illustration. 2) the female Robin Hood vibes were cool. I enjoyed the whole heroine saving the duke for a change dynamics. Now for the things I disliked. My main gripe was with the writing. It is so very convoluted and repetitive that it made the reading experience ridiculously tedious. The dialogues didn't feel like real people speaking, not even people in the Regency era. Additionally, anything conveyed in the dialogue was reiterated by the characters' inner ramblings, sometimes multiple times. This might just be a personal issue because repetition in texts is one of my biggest pet peeves but I found it really off putting. The main characters were also lacking finesse and seemed to operate in a way that was utterly unrealistic. Everyone was shining their halo left and right and while it is important in historical romances for the main pair to be likeable, the Mary Sue vibes were just a tad too strong. And to crown all this, I just had the pleasure of reading one of the cringiest sex scenes of my life and that's saying something because I have encountered plenty. Overall, a fairly solid idea with a less than ideal execution. I could probably finish it but I can't find it in myself to care enough. Thank you for Netgalley for supplying me with an ebook in exchange for an honest review.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Elodie

    Duchess If You Dare: A Dazzling Historical Regency Romance Maidens of Mayhem Series #1 Anabelle Bryant https://www.facebook.com/AnabelleBrya... Release Date 03/30/2021 Publisher Zebra Books 𝗕𝗹𝘂𝗿𝗯 From the glittering ballrooms of the ton to the city’s grittiest corners, London has no shortage of wrongs in need of righting—and the Maidens of Mayhem are prepared for the challenge. United by secrecy and sisterhood, these daring woman from all walks of life aim to fight injustice wherever it takes them—ev Duchess If You Dare: A Dazzling Historical Regency Romance Maidens of Mayhem Series #1 Anabelle Bryant https://www.facebook.com/AnabelleBrya... Release Date 03/30/2021 Publisher Zebra Books 𝗕𝗹𝘂𝗿𝗯 From the glittering ballrooms of the ton to the city’s grittiest corners, London has no shortage of wrongs in need of righting—and the Maidens of Mayhem are prepared for the challenge. United by secrecy and sisterhood, these daring woman from all walks of life aim to fight injustice wherever it takes them—even into the arms of unexpected love...   Scarlett Wynn’s tragic childhood taught her that life can be cruel to women with little power. So when a local seamstress disappears, Scarlett vows to find out why. Armed with a weapon and her courage, Scarlett scours London for clues—and crosses the unlikely path of Ambrose Cross, the Duke of Aylesford, at an unlikely place: an upscale brothel. The Duke is trying to solve a mystery of his own, and Scarlett is sure they can help each other—if she can resist the attraction that draws them together . . . As Duke of Aylesford, Ambrose is duty-bound to protect his family name from scandal no matter the cost. But Scarlett’s fearless spirit forces him to look beyond his world of privilege. Scarlett is as intoxicating as she is dangerous, igniting a fire in him like no other. But when the pair learn both mysteries they’re trying to solve are tied to a string of missing women, the tangled scheme they uncover may put their lives, and their growing love, in mortal danger—and lead them to search their hearts like never before . . .   𝗠𝘆 𝗿𝗲𝘃𝗶𝗲𝘄 Will they let society’s expectations run them down ... I have been very curious about this book, having liked my two previous reads by the author. And what’s better than a group of amazons fighting for their fellows at a time when they were mistreated and discredited as unworthy. Scarlett is that kind of woman, jumping straight into a fight because she has to. She with her meager means tries to right some wrong done. She uses her past as the justifications for her actions and her rejection of the Duke’s suit. Having been first witness of the weight prostitution put on the soul, and the often dramatic outcome, she battles for them, yet she should also fight to help them find an other path. It is nice to be kind with them, but they should also have the choice of their trade. When she first encounters the Duke, she has a kind of insta awareness of him. It soon turns to lust and then to more. Yet she keeps repeating to herself, this could go to nothing because of who she is. She might not need saving, but she needs to see past her own beliefs. Ambrose has lived his whole life in his gilded tower, never really going down, except to scold his brother for his excesses. So he is effectively lost the first time he sets foot in the slums of the city. Only thinking about his pristine reputation, he tiptoes, afraid to attract his peers’ scorn. Why he is so high handed, making mistake after mistake, he believes he has everything mapped out, his lofty title offering him all the right answers when it much leads him on a merry chase. He is in fact the damsel in distress in this story. Scarlett rescues him from his golden cage, she shows him what truly living is, how to step out of his usual path, that not all is white and black, how he could live in shades of grey. They are so sweet together but for two persons who fell quite instantly in lust-love, they rant again and again about how they would never be able to be together, never trying to imagine how and if they could make it works. It eats up the pages. It is also what hold them back from progressing in their inquiries, when others lives are at stake. After what I found dubious is the name of the series made me expect a group working together, but here it is Scarlett against the world. They are four, and we see them all together only one or twice in the whole book, why did they not band together, they would have worked more efficiently and much faster. Then, about the villains, except for one, there is no comeuppance for their evil deeds, none is to be worried. It is a fiction, I would have loved to see get their right retribution. And last, what of the poor girls trapped in the clutches of ugly schemers. I much enjoyed them getting to know one another, yet they could have worked their investigation a different way. 3.75 rounded up to 4 stars 𝗦𝘁𝗲𝗮𝗺 𝗹𝗲𝘃𝗲𝗹 onscreen detailed foreplays and a long lovemaking scene. I have been granted an advance copy by the publisher and Rachel’s Random Ressources. Here is my true and unbiased opinion.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Etta

    In Duchess If You Dare , readers are introduced to the Maidens of Mayhem, who do not follow societies’ rules and choose to explore mysteries. It is historical England, so it is not the norm for ladies to be out without escorts, wear pants, or let alone try to solve crimes. They are a group that on the surface seem to have little power, but they want to prove society wrong and do good deeds. This novel is the promising first novel in the series that seems to take a member of the “Maidens” grou In Duchess If You Dare , readers are introduced to the Maidens of Mayhem, who do not follow societies’ rules and choose to explore mysteries. It is historical England, so it is not the norm for ladies to be out without escorts, wear pants, or let alone try to solve crimes. They are a group that on the surface seem to have little power, but they want to prove society wrong and do good deeds. This novel is the promising first novel in the series that seems to take a member of the “Maidens” group and give them their own tale. Our first main character is Scarlett is one of the founding members of The Maidens of Mayhem. She is the daughter of a former brothel worker, who was murdered by one of her supposed protectors. She learned early on that she would need to rely on herself to protect both herself and those that need protection. When her seamstress, Linie, goes missing, she decides to make it her mission to find her. The investigation leads her initially to a brothel, The Scarlet Rose, where Linie moonlighted as a worker. It is here that the true mystery unravels as it is revealed that Linie is not the only one to have recently gone missing. Ambrose Cross, the Duke of Aylesford, first “meets” Scarlett at the Scarlet Rose when he is there attempting to clean up one of the many messes created by his brother, Martin. The two of them live very different lives as Martin gambles, visits brothels, and seems to live a carefree existence. On the other hand, Ambrose is more uptight, as he is the head of the household and the one who needs to uphold the family name and position. As it turns out, Martin, and Ambrose by association, become involved in the mystery of the missing brothel workers. Since Ambrose and Scarlett are after the same goal, they find themselves constantly meeting in unexpected places causing the two of them to begin knowing each other. Ambrose and Scarlett have insta-lust because they each represent something that the other wants. Ambrose loves that Scarlett is not like other women in society, given that she is not an official member of the ton. Scarlett loves that Ambrose represents the security and protection she never had in her past. They develop feelings for each other extremely fast given that they do not spend a ton of time together, but, for me, it is slightly more understandable in a historical novel as it follows a lot of what you’d expect of the times. There is a lot of resistance given their different stations, which could be considered scandalous for the duke to marry below his station, so they need to overcome the obstacle of society. The two do get to know each other and initially acknowledge their lust rather than love, but, like most stories, there is not much needed to sometimes push lust and turn it into love. This is a series that has one central group, The Maidens of Mayhem, and each novel seems to follow one of the ladies in their own stories. This type of series has its positives and negatives as I love that the universe can expand with all the characters, but sometimes I wish one character can be the main to have their story told over multiple books. This novel was the latter. Although it was very enjoyable, I feel that the novel needed more time to get to know the maidens, so the readers are fully invested in getting to know more by the time the next novel is released. I think a prequel novel is greatly needed just to give the reader background into the formation of the group, how the different members became involved, and how they each gained their different skills. Overall, this was an enjoyable novel that is almost two novels in one as there is both the mystery portion and the romance portion that mingle together to become one story. Each piece separately was great, but it seemed the two did not always come together as there was not enough depth given to each to seamlessly put them together. Maybe a few extra pages could have been beneficial just to tie them together a little more. The novel itself though is a very enjoyable and easy read. The stage is set nicely for the next novel in the series to take place and I look forward to reading it once it is available! [3.5 rounded to 4] **I want to give a special thank you to Rachel @Rachel’s Random Resources and the author, Anabelle Bryant, for a copy of this delightful novel! It was seriously entertaining and the opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.**

  27. 5 out of 5

    Niki (mustreadalltheromance)

    After a tough childhood with a single mother, Scarlett Wynn knows the world can be harsh and unforgiving, especially for women. When her seamstress disappears without a trace, Scarlett is determined to learn what happened to her. Her pursuit leads Scarlett to cross paths with the Duke of Aylesford at a high-class brothel of all places. The duke is also trying to get to the bottom of a mystery, one apparently linked to Scarlett’s own investigation so she decides they can help each other. She just After a tough childhood with a single mother, Scarlett Wynn knows the world can be harsh and unforgiving, especially for women. When her seamstress disappears without a trace, Scarlett is determined to learn what happened to her. Her pursuit leads Scarlett to cross paths with the Duke of Aylesford at a high-class brothel of all places. The duke is also trying to get to the bottom of a mystery, one apparently linked to Scarlett’s own investigation so she decides they can help each other. She just has to keep her attraction to him tamped down. Ambrose Cross, the Duke of Aylesford, has always known his duty to the title and has striven to avoid any scandal and maintain a pristine reputation. Scarlett’s determination and drive force him to look beyond his sheltered world and see things differently. He’s instantly drawn to her in a way he’s never felt before, though he knows he can’t have her in the way he wants. When the mystery Ambrose and Scarlett are looking into turns out to be linked to several missing women, they begin getting closer to the truth and into danger themselves. Their connection rapidly grows to something deeper, and with their lives in peril, they soon realize the need to realign their priorities. This story started off so strong and the setup and plotline have so much potential. Somehow though, the pace was very slow, and it took a lot of effort to keep myself interested at times. The connection between Ambrose and Scarlett is fairly instantaneous, which is fine, but I never really felt that spark of chemistry. This could be due to the fact that both their inner monologues were almost constantly stuck on enumerations of why they could never truly be together. That got old and repetitive very quickly. The character development never really panned out here, especially for Scarlett and the other Maidens of Mayhem. We only got one scene with the ladies all together, which is likely because they each have stories occurring concurrent to this one. Still, I never really understood their goal and we didn’t get any info about how they got started or how they operate now. I just wanted more background about them as a whole and especially about Scarlett. We know she has this terrible past and her mother’s experiences have let her to distrust men, but we know almost nothing about how she got where she is, how she learned her skills, or really anything. Perhaps this is meant to add to the mystery, but I wanted more. As for the mystery itself, things progressed at a paradoxically slow pace with Ambrose and Scarlett preoccupied with their attraction but also with keeping each other at arm’s length. This just culminated in a couple of rather cringy love scenes which were further undermined by each character’s virtually identical and tediously repetitive inner thoughts on how they had only one night to be together. Even when the mystery was solved, they weren’t there, but instead learned the final details from another character and the whole mystery just fizzled out without any real justice or a clean resolution. Especially for a heavy topic like human trafficking, I wanted more of a wrap-up. Even after they each realized their hearts and that they wanted to be together no matter their class disparity, Scarlett went back to her old fears, her resolution to follow her heart, made only a few pages previously, went out the window, and she went back to pondering about martyring herself by leaving so Ambrose’s reputation would be preserved. Give me a break. This angst was unnecessary and could’ve been derived from the mystery resolution instead if it was that important. Overall, this story was solid enough, but I don’t think it lived up to its potential. I’d still recommend this as a historical mystery, but I likely won’t read it again. That said, I like this concept and am intrigued to see where the series goes with the next book and hope that provides more details on the Maidens. I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Blog link: https://mustreadalltheromance.blogspo...

  28. 4 out of 5

    Eleanor Lynn

    The premise of the book is good. I like adventure, forbidden romance, and historical fiction with strong women! However, this book didn’t live up to my expectations. It’s not that it’s bad per se, rather I had wanted more out of it. Scarlett is fiercely independent after growing up on her own in a poor part of London. But you don’t really feel like you know her to sympathize with her. And this was a problem that I found throughout the novel. There’s a lot of say and not a lot of show. Between th The premise of the book is good. I like adventure, forbidden romance, and historical fiction with strong women! However, this book didn’t live up to my expectations. It’s not that it’s bad per se, rather I had wanted more out of it. Scarlett is fiercely independent after growing up on her own in a poor part of London. But you don’t really feel like you know her to sympathize with her. And this was a problem that I found throughout the novel. There’s a lot of say and not a lot of show. Between the growing attraction between Scarlett and Ambrose to Scarlett’s past to Ambrose’s life. I just found the book to be lacking any substantial detail and I wanted more. Additionally, the continuous repetition of the characters could have been cut down more to make the read smoother and more enjoyable. The plot was really interesting throwing in the abduction mystery aspect and the events around it were fun to read. It was quick paced and the dual view points kept everything moving beautifully. I found myself quickly getting through the novel solely because the plot was interesting, which makes the mystery aspect stand out more. If you take this book as a mystery novel with heavy influences of romance then I think you're going to enjoy it more than the other way around Things that I liked about the novel: Plot: Like I stated before, the plot is the strongest part of this book. The twists and turns it takes to solve the disappearance are entertaining! I rather enjoy mystery novels so I found this to be a good read. It plays with similar mystery tropes and kept me guessing the whole way through. I actually was shocked at the outcome in the end. Solid plot! Marcus: Yes he's a secondary character, but he's who really gets the ball rolling with Ambrose. His relationship with Ambrose was a highlight of the novel. I enjoyed his compelling character arc and desperately want one of the next novels in this series to be about him. I want more! Things I disliked about the novel: Character Development: This is typically what makes or breaks a novel for me and unfortunately this broke this novel. I felt like Scarlett and Ambrose were rather flat characters. They had their set characteristics and while the book said that they changed you don't experience it. Additionally, I wanted more from their backstory. I get Scarlett has a tragic background, but make me feel it. Tell me more! How did she survive, learn to throw knives, what else does she do? I need to know! And how did Ambrose get to how he was? Tell me about his parents and upbringing! (Also, how in the world is he that ignorant of the world--this would have been great to build on!!). I don't even understand the Maidens of Mayhem part of the novel even, nothing is really said about it. Romance: The romance in the novel felt incredibly forced. It was like all of a sudden they went from not working together to wanting to rip the clothes off of each other. There was little build to the relationship. What I imagine is the "build" acts more like a build to their partnership rather than anything romantic. I would have liked more conversation between Scarlett and Ambrose to create a mutual respect and attraction. Long Story Short: Do I recommend Duchess If You Dare? Yeah, I do. It's not going to be my first recommendation for a historical romance, but it does make my list of entertaining books. I do doubt that I would ever read this book again. Likewise, I will probably read the rest of the series as it comes out solely because I want to know about the other maidens of mayhem because there's not much about them in this book. Also I want to see if Martin makes a comeback because his story arc was my fave. I received a complimentary copy of #DuchessIfYouDare from #NetGalley with Kensington Books for an honest and fair review. All thoughts are that of my own. Thank you #NetGalley and Kensington Books for a wonderful read!

  29. 5 out of 5

    Iris

    Scarlett Wynn is one of London's Maidens of Mayhem, a discreet group of women fighting injustices in the city. Ambrose, the Duke of Aylesford, is an uptight and responsible aristocrat. Their paths cross at a brothel when Scarlett begins investigating the disappearance of her seamstress while Ambrose reluctantly looks into his carefree brother's suspicions that something is afoot at the brothel. I thought the first few chapters of the book were a little rough, but it really picks up once the myste Scarlett Wynn is one of London's Maidens of Mayhem, a discreet group of women fighting injustices in the city. Ambrose, the Duke of Aylesford, is an uptight and responsible aristocrat. Their paths cross at a brothel when Scarlett begins investigating the disappearance of her seamstress while Ambrose reluctantly looks into his carefree brother's suspicions that something is afoot at the brothel. I thought the first few chapters of the book were a little rough, but it really picks up once the mystery gets going! There were a lot of exposition dumps in the beginning and I would have preferred some more "show, not tell" when trying to inform us about the characters, because it killed a lot of suspense and curiosity in the first few chapters to just have this information given to us. I was also worried that Scarlett would be all "I'm not like other girls" based on her vibes at the start, but this impression wore off a bit as the story went on (but still not completely dispelled though). But book got a lot better as the plot develops! I love a good mystery so it was fun seeing Scarlett and Ambrose's investigation and trying to put the pieces together on my own as well. I liked that it took some time and many encounters for the characters to start working together - building up how they were fascinated by each other added more depth to their connection. With a daring heroine and a by-the-book hero tackling a very women-focused issue, this story gave me Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries vibes. I do feel like the mystery could have been wrapped up better though, especially regarding how Scarlett's seamstress was involved (more on this later). I'm a bit indifferent to Scarlett and Ambrose's relationship; I feel like it's fine and works well with the mystery to help drive the plot but overall I guess I didn't really connect with it. On a more serious note though, I don't like how the book deals with prostitution. While the book places a lot of emphasis on how women are forced into this life, the way that prostitution is portrayed somehow feels very unsympathetic. The reveal of the seamstress's involvement feels very antithetical to the rest of the story and we never get an explanation from her, which was odd considering the whole mystery started with her?? And there was one part where Ambrose describes the prostitutes as women with "easy virtue" and then literally the next paragraph he's talking about how they had no choice... like what? This flip flopping view of prostitutes as both sinful and victims gave me such whiplash and kind of encapsulated how the book dealt with this theme. And for a story focused on prostitution, the women in question are very marginalized; there are almost no interactions between the main characters and a prostitute, which gives us no opportunity to empathize with their struggle and actually understand what is at stake - why couldn't one of those women be a central character in resolving the mystery? This is a topic that can be done well and I think more nuance could have been used. I think the author is skilled at writing a mystery and giving the reader enough information from the characters' investigation to try and put things together on their own. While I think the mystery as a plot device was effective and really appealed to me, my main issues with this book are the heavy-handed exposition and the handling of prostitution. There's potential here, but there's also many aspects that can be better! ----- This was an ARC provided to me by NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Thanks!

  30. 5 out of 5

    Julie

    Anabelle Bryant stirs a pot spiced with passion, intrigue, wit and adventure in the first title of her enchanting new series, The Maidens of Mayhem: Duchess If You Dare. Scarlett Wynn is a woman on a mission. Scarlett had learned at a very young age that life could be cruel – especially for women who had little power. Determined to do whatever it takes to protect women unable to fight back and defend themselves, Scarlett is more likely to be seen skulking in the shadows of the Seven Dials rather Anabelle Bryant stirs a pot spiced with passion, intrigue, wit and adventure in the first title of her enchanting new series, The Maidens of Mayhem: Duchess If You Dare. Scarlett Wynn is a woman on a mission. Scarlett had learned at a very young age that life could be cruel – especially for women who had little power. Determined to do whatever it takes to protect women unable to fight back and defend themselves, Scarlett is more likely to be seen skulking in the shadows of the Seven Dials rather than dancing an elegant quadrille in a ballroom. A woman who can more than handle herself and fight her way out of many a tight spot, when a local seamstress disappears, Scarlett is determined to move mountains to find her and punish those who might have harmed her. Armed and full of courage and determination, Scarlett begins to scour London for clues and ends up in an upscale brothel where she finds herself up against the most dangerous and daring of enemies: everlasting love in the dazzling form of Ambrose, Duke of Aylesford… Ambrose might be a privileged member of the Ton, but that doesn’t seem that his life is a decadent whirl of parties and balls. Ambrose has the weight of the world on his shoulders trying to keep the dukedom profitable – and trying to keep his brother Martin on the straight and narrow. While the former is a constant challenge, the latter seems to be a losing battle with Martin once again coming to him asking him for money after he loses a fortune at the gaming tables yet again! After severely reducing Martin’s allowance, Ambrose had hoped that his brother might have learned his lesson, however, he quickly realizes that that might not be the case – which is why he finds himself at a brothel where he wants to ascertain at all costs that his family’s good name is untarnished. Ambrose is a sensible and practical kind of man who is not usually easily distracted – until he finds himself crossing swords with the beguiling Scarlett Wynn. Scarlett is unlike any other woman he has ever met before and he finds himself immediately intrigued by this bold, daring and intoxicating woman. Ambrose should be focusing on solving the mystery he has found himself embroiled in, but with Scarlett constantly on his mind that proves easier said than done! But when it turns out that their respective missions could be linked, they find themselves joining forces in their quest for truth and justice. Yet, spending so much time together might just force them to admit that they’ve fallen head over heels in love with one another. Is a future for Scarlett and Ambrose possible? Or will dangerous enemies intent on vengeance end up tearing them asunder…forever? Duchess If You Dare is an enchanting and intriguing historical romance written with such style and flair that each page is sprinkled with magic and verve. Anabelle Bryant infuses her story with danger, desire, jeopardy and passion and has created a historical romance that will keep readers on the edge of their seats eagerly turning the pages desperate to find out what happens next. Scarlett and Ambrose are two terrific leads it is hard not to fall in love with. The chemistry between them sizzles and sparkles, their repartee is witty and charming and their love story is poignant, sexy and positively swoon-worthy! Duchess If You Dare heralds the start of a terrific new series from Anabelle Bryant and I cannot wait to see what The Maidens of Mayhem will get up to next!

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