Royce Verisey, tenth Duke of Wolverstone, otherwise known as Dalziel to a select group from
Whitehall, has returned home for his fatherís funeral. An absence of 16 years means that Royce
is out of step with what is happening on his estate and has to rely on Minerva, his chatelaine,
for far more information than he would like. That he is drawn to Minerva, mentally and physically,
only adds to his frustration—especially when she appears disinterested in him. She makes
it very clear that she remained at the estate because she promised his father that she would.
Then he learns that she had also made a deathbed promise to his mother, so she is doubly bound
to Wolverstone, but not to him.
It was interesting to see the way Ms. Lauren portrays Royce as a very concerned landowner,
and a very hands-on one. Yet, as capable as Royce is in handling his estate and in the service
of his country in bringing villains to heel—all but the last traitor, who does make an
appearance in this book—he has a difficult time dealing with the grand dames of society
who insist that he must marry immediately. They present him with a list of suitable candidates
and demand that he choose. While Minerva is a suitable candidate, her name is not on any of the
Because this is Dalziel, the head of the select band of men who served their country, and†
this was the last in the Bastion Club novels, I expected to see more of the other
characters involved. A few of them were present, but their roles were so minor that there was
no need to bother. In fact, their wives had larger roles when they counseled Minerva on
Dalzielís true personality.
I am normally a great fan of Stephanie Laurens, and I really wanted to like Dalzielís story,
but Mastered by Love did not live up to her usual standards. Either of the
subplots—the traitor is out to get Royce, or, the Prince Regent wants his property, which
is why Royce must marry immediately—could have been better developed. Instead,
Mastered by Love was a mishmash of scenes and a very loose wrap up of the Bastion