THE LADY RISKS ALL – Stephanie Laurens
ISBN: 978-0-06-206863-7 Print
ISBN: 978-0-06-206626-8 eBook
London 1811 and 1823
For generations the men of the Delbraith family have been cursed with gambling fever. The late Duke of Ridgware had a strong duchess who was able to curb his excesses so that when he died, the duchy's finances were in tune. And luckily, his sober first-born son George, the new duke, showed no sign of the family curse. However, when George unexpectedly shot himself, the truth came to light. He had lost or mortgaged everything! Lord Julian Roscoe Neville Galbraith, George's younger brother, was named guardian of his three year-old nephew Henry, the new duke. Lord Julian also suffers from the family addiction, but with one difference…he wins much more than he loses. To save the family from scandal, Lord Julian contrived a plan. They passed George's death off as apoplexy, Julian paid off as many debts as possible, and the plan? Wait and see….
It's twelve years later, and the Clifford family lives on the edge of society. Their wealth, though initially derived from trade, has made them acceptable, especially the young and single Mister Roderick Clifford. For all of his twenty-three years, his older sister Miranda has looked after him—they were orphaned as children and raised by two aunts, daughters of a minor baronet. It's hard for Miranda to realize that Roderick's not still her baby brother; she's determined to see why he is sneaking out the back door. Miranda follows him down the alley to a nearby mansion belonging to Neville Roscoe, the notorious “Gambling King” of London, the owner of many gaming establishments. Miranda fears gambling and possible orgies going on inside, but when she's discovered by the owner, she's invited in to watch unseen what is going on. She witnesses several gentlemen, including her brother, discussing their various charities. Miranda's mind is at rest over Roderick, but she's more than curious about Roscoe.
Both Roscoe, the erstwhile Lord Julian, and Miranda are born caretakers, generous souls who would do anything for the sakes of those they love. Miranda finds it difficult to give up the reins and let Roderick be the adult gentleman he has become. But when he disappears, Miranda calls on the only person who might help her . . . Roscoe. Roscoe commands a large staff of men who guard him, his employees, his properties, and the honesty of his various establishments. He agrees to help Miranda; after all, Roderick is his friend and he feels an odd sort of bond with Miranda.
What follows is an adventure with Roscoe and Miranda working closely together. Do they find Roderick? Does Miranda learn the man to whom she's so strangely attractive is the son of a duke? Duke's son or underworld figure, what difference does it make? Neither is a likely connection for Miranda.
Lord Julian's sacrifices for his family are very moving, and Miranda is an admirable lady. Ms. Laurens does a wonderful job of character building with minor characters as well as the hero and heroine. In 461 jam-packed pages, THE LADY RISKS ALL takes several twists, keeping the suspense high. And the eventual love scenes are sure to please all who enjoy the romantic and the sensuous.