duke of sin, is more than a bad boy. he is a villian. he really is. but he is so damn likeable. he does not care what the world thinks of him. he will blackmail and murder and kidnap and do everything in his power to get his way and what he wants when he wants it. he's a freaking duke, he can get away with all of it.
except. he meets bridget crumb, his housekeeper who has finagled her way into his household in order to protect others' secrets. a woman who sees beyond the dangerous and immoral aristrocrat and sees the wounded soul beneath the layers of tarnish and evil that has surrounded him. to some extent val has been created to be as self-indulgent and uncaring as he is. and when bridget pierces that armor, he doesn't quite know what to do with himself. he behaves outrageously as always, but for the first time considers what someone else might think.
because of his past, the abuse and neglect his parents dealt him, valentine has trained himself not to love others. all he knows is that love is weakness. if you love something you will be hurt when it is taken from you. and all his parents taught him was that it would be taken, anything precious would be killed and destroyed. so val learned to destroy the things he loves before anyone else can do it. because if he is the one causing the pain it hurts less. that kind of logic is twisted and horrifying, but it's what makes val such an interesting hero. he really has no interest in being a better person.
and i wouldn't really say he is a better person by the end of the novel. this isn't really a redemption story. it's just a story about two people who are absolutely meant to be. two people who are well-matched. bridget is the only one who sees past the performance val enacts on a daily basis. and that's all it takes. he also sees past her shields, he sees her as a woman not a servant. for all that val is careless of most other humans, if he cares for someone he treats them exceptionally well.
duke of sin is the tenth installment in the maiden lane series, and characters from previous books make appearances here, particularly eve dinwoody and asa makepeace from sweetest scoundrel. i've only read the first novel in the series, but i'm definitely going back and reading the rest, and i'll probably re-read this one too. it's that good. val is the kind of bad boy i love in fiction.
**duke of sin published on may 31, 2016. i received an advance reader copy courtesy of netgalley/grand central publishing in exchange for my honest review.