The Need to Know: A witty, steamy, heartwarming read. Don’t mind me…I’m just reading all the other books in the mega-talented Meredith Duran’s catalog asap.
I live for banter.
Okay. I don’t live for it. But when it’s done well—I’m talking the Katharine Hepburn and anybody else
variety--it’s enough to make an embarrassing smile come to my face and butterflies come to life in my stomach.
I found the banter that I’ve been looking for in Meredith Duran’s lovely, satisfying, and witty latest release, A Lady's Code of Misconduct.
This stellar novel was my introduction to Duran, and I’m pretty happy about it.
First, the setting. The place: England. The time: 1860.
Crispin Burke is an unlikable but also very attractive man who has no scruples about using bribery and manipulation to get what he wants in the political sphere. After he angers the wrong person, he’s attacked and left for dead; when he awakens, he’s informed that he has a wife.
Believing that Crispin would die, Jane Mason conveniently claimed (read: lied) that she and Crispin were married so that she could leave her aunt and uncle’s oppressive home and gain control over her inheritance.
But Crispin does not die, and when he awakens, he does not remember the last several years of his life. He’s also much different from how Jane remembers him. He’s warm, tender, and conscientious, but he’s also still hot. Sounds pretty amazing, right?
Jane and Crispin both find themselves fighting their sexual and emotional attractions to one another, as the past looms large. Will Crispin regain his memory? And if he does, how will he and Jane reconcile the earlier Crispin—the unscrupulous one whom Jane was acquainted with—with the man whom she has romantic feelings for? And, what will Jane do about the lie she told, you know, the little one about being married to Crispin when she actually wasn't?
There’s so much to adore in this book. First of all, I really like Jane, who is an unapologetic philanthropist and feminist. She has a strong interest in politics and living in her uncle's home hasn't squashed that out of her. Her belief that she has something to contribute to conversations, to politics, and to the lives of the less fortunate, makes her nuanced and admirable. And, Crispin’s insistence that those qualities of hers are important to him, too, are lovely—precisely because every partner would love to hear that their passions, if not shared, are at least appreciated.
As I mentioned above, the witty repartee is so good, without seeming mannered. Jane and Crispin’s observations about the society around them are similarly trenchant and often amusing. There are some really incredible observations made about the perceived role of women which made me LOL and also cringe the tiniest little bit (because, to state the obvious, gender relations in nineteenth-century England were not amazing, and let's not even get started about what life would have been like then for non-privileged white women or women of color).
Finally, I was quite enamored with the characters' evolutions throughout the novel. Duran paints the development of Crispin's personality, and his growing awareness of how he's affected others and they've affected him, with sensitivity. Though Crispin arguably achieves the greatest transformation, I also appreciated the growth that Jane attains throughout the book.
See? So much to adore here.
As far as I’m concerned, devouring Duran’s A Lady's Code of Misconduct over the last two days was an excellent use of my time, and I’m already looking forward to reading her other books.
Thanks to NetGalley for providing me with a free copy of this book. All opinions provided in this review are my own.
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