Serena Barton has been ruined. Pregnant, her dreams in tatters, she’s going to make the Duke of Clermont acknowledge his illegitimate child or expose him to the gossip-mongers. Hugo Marshall is the Wolf of Clermont, ruthless and ambitious, and he can’t allow the duke to be ruined. For if the duchess discovers the duke’s infidelity, she’ll take her fortune far away from the duke, and with it, Hugo’s only chance to make something of himself. The Wolf will use any means to get what he wants, but it will mean trampling over Serena Barton, the woman he’s coming to love.
Okay, get ready for a rave. I LOVED this book. By the end of the first chapter everything was set up so perfectly. Who will back down, Hugo or Serena? Who will sacrifice what they so desperately desire? Surely, neither can.
Hugo Marshall is described as thoroughly average in build and looks, if perhaps a little broader in the shoulders than most men, an advantage from his boxing days. But on the inside he’s anything but ordinary. A man with huge ambitions and ruthless techniques. The idea that he’d ride roughshod over a young woman whose dreams are already shattered is horrifying, but that’s exactly what he intends to do. What makes it more horrifying is the trauma Serena has experienced. You get the feeling that if Hugo does what he intends he will become a damned man, a Russian tragedy of a figure, lost forever.
It was refreshing to read a story in which traumatic events happened to both main characters, without them wallowing in angst, tears, fury, or all of the above. Some reviews accuse Milan of treating Serena’s trauma too lightly, or using it as a device to strengthen her character. I would disagree. Serena was already a strong and determined person before her downfall. Now that her options for the future have narrowed so far they are all but obliterated, she takes the only course open to her. It’s Hugo’s dogged ambition which draws them together: not because their aims converge (quite the opposite) but because in many ways they are similar creatures.
This is a complex novella with every character drawn in detail. And for those of you who’ve read it: the hairpin scene. *Dies* You know what I’m talking about. If you haven’t read it, you’ll see what I mean. Do read it. Just. Do.