Book Critique - Heiress for Hire (Duke's Heiress #1)
For review of all books in the series, go here.
Stars: 3 / 5
Recommendation: If you are into period setting novels with romance and mystery along-side, this book is one to try for sure, although I feel that the crescendo of the trilogy ended in a slightly low tone.
Heiress for Hire is the first book in the Duke's Heiress series by Madeline Hunter first published in April of 2020. The first of the trilogy revolves around Minerva Hepplewhite - a woman on the run to escape her past - and Chase Radnor - one of the nephews of Duke of Hollinburgh and a private investigator.
The Late Duke of Hollinburgh, Frederick Radnor, leaves a large sum of the inheritance as well as a partnership in an enterprise that the duke had invested in, to three unknown women that the family had never heard of or met. The stories revolve around these three women; how the Radnor men, Duke's nephews, entice them; how the men and women come together to justly use the inheritance while finding love, future and happiness.
Minerva Hepplewhite comes into a sudden inheritance from a benefactor she had never known - the late Duke of Hollingburgh, Frederick. Now the nephew of the Duke, Chase Radnor, although finds the first of the three women, has his suspicions about Minerva. While each investigate the other, Minerva is set on having her own business while Chase is wanting to have Minerva not only as a business partner but more.
Madeline spins a tale filled with period settings and costumes, the way the lives were when it was flowing in a much slower pace than now, the various friendships & betrayals; budding romances & long-standing loves; politics and businesses. She adds a flair of humor, a shade of mystery and a thread of sensuality woven in the plot.
However, she brings out the darker shades of life to light too - women snubbed under men's thumb; servants importuned by masters; wives abused by husbands. This makes the book not just a romantic period story but more than that, focusing on social and personal evils and achievements.
Interesting to see that in that period the book is set in, everyone considered automatons as worthless mechanical devices. A good 200 years later e practically live on them now. What a change!!
Since all the three men are introduced to us in this very first book, it is only fitting to see how they fare in their respective role and vocations. Each of them have their own perils to face, own fears to overcome and own paths to pave towards success and love.
One thing I did notice though. I believe Madeline reuses the streets, towns and places in her plots, those that in particular revolve around the dukes. And in some cases people like Madame Tissot who is a dressmaker. I have to re-read all the books again to be sure, but my gut tells that Madeline repeats some of the locations and people in her plots.
A charming romantic period set tale by Madeline taking readers in the world of investigation, finding love as well as solving mystery hidden around the inheritance and murder for Chase and Minerva. A quick read to keep you occupied on a lazy afternoon.
1. Plot Reveals:
a. Frederick Radnor was murdered and Chase Radnor is investigating the death as well as finding the three women who were bequeathed with the inheritance. Kevin is suspected in the late duke's murder, so Chase sends him to France until the investigation concludes.
b. Kevin's father is interested in automatons, ropes Kevin frequently to work on them with him. And he wanted one of the mechanical man that Frederick had with him a while ago. Description came very similar to a Robot serving as a waiter.
c. Peel's father also comes as a suspect in Frederick's murder.
a. The three legatees who are benefitted by an inheritance from the late Duke of:
i. Minerva Hepplewhite: She was married to Algernon Finley of Dorset and her original name was Margaret Finley.
ii. Woman 2
iii. Woman 3
b. The three nephews of the late Duke & cousins to each other, who were most misfortuned by the late Duke's will:
i. Chase Radnor - an ex-Army investigator, has his own investigation business. He marries Minerva at the end of this plot.
ii. Nicholas Radnor - the current Duke of Holinburgh
iii. Kevin Radnor - an eccentric cousin with a vested interest in the enterprise, his share of which was bequeathed to one of the other two women. Also invested in making a calibrator along with another inventor that would speed up steam engines.
c. Minerva opens her own investigation business called Hepplewhite's Office of Discreet Inquiries. Her employees are - Mrs. Beth Shepherdson, her long-time housekeeper; Jeremy, Beth's son; Elise Turner, a hired servant. Elise and Jeremy seemed to be interested in each other.
d. The Radnor Family:
i. Six brothers and Two Sisters from the late Duke's generation - Uncle Frederick, Aunt Agnes, Aunt Dolores,
ii. Six sons between the six brothers forming the current Duke's generation. The remaining three being Phillip Radnor; Douglas Radnor & his wife Claudine; Walter Radnor & his wife Felicity. Douglas & Walter are own brothers.
iii. Servants & other staff - Brigsby, Chase's manservant; Mrs. Wiggins, the housekeeper; Mrs. Folwer, the cook; butler; Johnson, Nicholas's manservant; Mrs. Young, the housekeeper; Sarah, lady's maid; Joan; Susan; Brentworth, land steward; Martin Monroe, another investigator;
iv. Uncle Frederick is the only one who hadnt sired a son. Did he sire a daughter then? No kids?
e. Other folks we meet along: Robert Peel, home secretary; Mrs. Drable, in business of supplying servants; Mr. Sanders, solicitor; Mrs. Oliver, Minerva's client; Mr. Edkins, valet to the last Duke; Mrs. Jeffers, Minerva's second client.