Madeline de Lacy, duchess of Magnus, ruined herself in the face of society the day she broke off her engagement with Gabriel Ansell, the earl of Campion. Instead of facing the ton again, she ran away. For four years she traveled abroad. On the day of her return she found that her father had, not only lost the family fortune in a card game, but he also lost her.
Madeline will not allow her father’s gambling to rule her life. She believes her father is going to try to win back the fortune at a ‘big game’ using the only thing she has left from her mother…the queen’s tiara. She decides to send her cousin, and companion, Eleanor, in her stead to Mr. Knight, the man who won her. It’s only to hold him off until she can get her mother’s tiara back.
The only way to get in to this ‘big game’ unnoticed was to pose as a servant with one of the house guests. Lady Talbot, convinced that Madeline is good enough for the duchess, hires her to be a companion for her stepdaughter, Lady Thomasin. She finds that she has more challenges to face than stopping her father from gambling away her tiara. She must also learn how to use an iron and fix hair.
At their arrival, Madeline is brought face to face with Gabriel, the one person she ran away from. This just adds one more challenge to her list…avoiding the earl of Campion.
Gabriel Ansell came to Rumbelow’s house party to avenge his brother’s death. He never expected to find Maddie there. The moment he saw her, he knew he had to have her. For four years he waited for her to come back. She had promised to marry him, and he was not about to let her break that promise.
At first I really didn’t care for Gabriel. He was so harsh and overconfident. I wanted him to bend a little for Madeline and show some compassion. By the end of the book, the tables had turned. I realized that it was anger and pain that provoked his behavior and it was Madeline that I wanted to do the bending. She didn’t disappoint me, either.
I only had one complaint about the book. I'm usually not a knit-picker, but this time, I am. I just can’t help it. This one little ‘thing’ had that much of an impact on me. The author kept using the word "cock" in the heat of passion or at the height of sexual tension. It kept throwing me off. At first, I thought it was meant to shock, surprise, and excite. Then it jumped out at me again at a more sensual moment…then again and again. I thought the word was too vulgar and obscene. It threw me out of the mood and left a bad taste in my mouth. Unfortunately this caused the sex scenes to be awkward. I know, I know, it’s just one word, but it was only affective once.
I don’t want my silly ‘word’ dilemma to be the last thought. With that said, I found the story was well written. Dodd was very good at pulling you into the story and giving you the feeling of actually being there. I also enjoyed MacAllister’s ranting, Lady Thomasin was a lot of fun, and the exchanges between Madeline and Lady Talbot were just hilarious. I loved the way she could cover up her inexperience as a companion.
Now, the big question lies with Eleanor, the real companion. All this time she is in London with Mr. Knight, and we don’t know what is happening with her. Dodd clearly left us hanging with this, so she could write about Eleanor in the next installment of The Trading Places series. I’ll be keeping my eyes peeled for her story!
Jennifer Ebmeyer, July 2003