Diamond In the Rogue by Wendy LaCapra is the third installment of her Lords of Chance series and it was amazing! Yes I’ll go ahead and say it the first thing. I’ve been going through some rough patches in my personal life for the past few months and needed a distraction badly. This book gave me that and more. I’ve been a fan of this series since it began and the installments never ceased to amaze me in the least. I always applaud Wendy’s writing style and her lovely narratives that hook you right into the story. But this book was just chock full of surprises I didn’t see coming. In retrospect, I should’ve expected at least some of them.
Lords of Chance is a Regency set series with 3 peers of the realm, who are also old friends, as the center of the storyline. They go by sobriquet taken from the game of card—Spades, Clubs and Diamonds. Lord Markham came as the extra addition to the group; as Hearts to complete the circle. He’s also the youngest and often jokingly called as the ‘pup’. But unknowing to him, in the beginning of the series he was being groomed by our Spades for an ultimate purpose. No, nothing nefarious but that didn’t mean it was any less important to Spades’ own existence.
In his story, in book 1 Scandal in Spades, we found Giles Langley the Marquess of Bromton, in a dilemma. A big one TBH. He had a very serious family issue that he needed to take care of. It involved the survival of the Bromley bloodline and Giles was ‘trained’ to become someone who’d do anything in his power to keep that bloodline flowing to the next generation. But there was a dark twist in his story which led him to find a proper (or improper, didn’t matter) solution to his aforementioned dilemma. And that’s how Markham came into the picture. Help came in the form of Markham’s elder sister Katherine, the scandalous spinster who made the Regency ‘headlines’ a few times in her life; not because she wanted to make any headline, but because she seemed to had bad lucks where Beaus and fiancés were concerned. But her meeting to Giles was the thing of magic; full of spark and chemistry that both felt and were unable to deny. Both were scared to fall but fall they did despite everything. I love LOVED that book.
I didn’t think that Markham would have his own story so soon. But he did in book 2, Heart’s Desire. We met him as the rake he was, even though he wasn’t a heartless rake (no pun intended). The initial meddling from his former lovers aside, the story was pretty good. Clarissa Laithe, who is also the sister of Diamonds, Lord Rayne, was previously engaged to Giles. But since he married Katharine and now living happily in marital bliss and Clarissa was never really in love with him, things seemed to have been resolved all around. But Giles’s marriage could’ve been ruined if Rayne wasn’t being an a$$ in book 1. He did something that led him to finally leave England in a hurry, leaving poor Julia, Katharine and Markham’s youngest sister, with a broken heart. I’ll talk about that in a bit.
In any case, Clarissa, whose upbringing was as devoid of any emotional attachment as it was Rayne’s, finally began noticing and TBH, envying the sibling affection that the Stanleys (Katharine, Markham and Julia) shared. Yet she didn’t really wanted to be associated with Markham due to his rakish reputation, even if she felt the attraction when they were finally forced to spend more time together in the guise of a courting couple. Surprisingly we learned that even if he was a rake and a happy-go-lucky one, Markham actually possessed a heart that wanted to be loved and he was looking for the proverbial The One. He’d sort of felt it could be Clarissa. He’d long admired her from afar. However, at that time she was engaged to Giles. Even if she’s now single, Markham gathered she may not really be interested in him. But their situation would sort itself out while they began discovering one surprising truth after another about themselves and their swiftly, but surely, budding relationship. Whereas Markham, aka Percy, didn’t think Clarissa would really spare a moment of her time for him, he found that she wanted all that and more. For him. With him. Personally, I had some issues in the beginning of the story but I too swiftly fell in love with this couple and their quickly growing chemistry.
There’s a novella after book 2, which is the story of one of Markham’s ex-lovers, a widow. I erringly read that before his story, a mistake you shouldn’t be making if you like your series read in order. I didn’t even know the h of the story, let alone the H and I’d rather not read about hero’s past indiscretions and the willing perpetrators, so that novella was kind of a big ‘nope’ for me. This widow was also present in Markham’s book and one of those ‘meddlers’ I mentioned previously. I personally didn’t care for her or her meddling but you may not feel the way I did so feel free to give it a try.
From the previous books of the series, I had very little to form opinions about Rayne and Julia. Hell I didn’t even remember his name was Graham since he’d always been called ‘Rayne’. He was a broody, moody rake that most mamas would ask their debutante daughters to avoid, all the while hoping he’d choose one of them cause he’s also the sole heir to the Rayne earldom. Julia was a secondary character who seemed too young and immature. She didn’t make her debut yet when Rayne spilled the tea about Giles’s secret reason to marry Katharine, making sure Katharine was present to hear of it. Even if Rayne knew Giles and Katharine were already in love by then. He was just angry that Giles broke his promise to marry Clarissa. Frankly I wasn’t sure why he was THAT mad cause no hearts were broken in the process. Except for Katharine’s. Of course, how can you not be shocked and shaken to your core after learning that he man you’re madly in love with married you just to save his bloodline, all the while seemingly lying to you about his feelings? On top of that Rayne went and kissed Julia, who had been mooning over him ever since they formally met. It wasn’t a match and Rayne was just being mean. When they got caught, Rayne only mocked Julia’s very innocent declaration of love, making sure she knew she meant nothing to him. It was such a horrible, horrible mess! TBH, after all that I myself wasn’t sure if theirs would be a good match. You may kiss a stranger and get caught and may even suffer the consequences but who goes and says ‘but I love him’?!
The basis of Rayne and Julia’s relationship had always seemed a little vague to me. Or maybe it was so simple that it looked complicated. I knew Rayne even broodier than Bromton. Definitely more than Farring and Markham. He could be too straightforward and cut you as if it didn’t matter to him. Much of his background was discussed in Clarissa’s story, so when you read about his upbringing it’s quite clear that emotional attachment to another human being was not his forte. His mother died young, his father was an a$$ himself who never cared one whit for his children, let alone showing any affection. So he grew up thinking he’d be just another copycat of his father and make life miserable for his own wife and children. He had issues connecting even with Clarissa as the siblings didn’t make a show of their affection, though later, more than once, it was proven otherwise.
Since he’d grown up thinking he’s only bound for a miserable existence, Rayne couldn’t imagine a life full of happiness but Julia somehow instinctively noticed that and sought to change it promptly in all her naïve glory. She was still a bit too young for my liking and had an innocent view of the world. The crazy attraction she felt for Rayne the moment they met soon transformed into something quite deep. But things have changed for them in the intervening 2 yrs. since Rayne fled England for America. He returns in book 2 so he can be a part of Clarissa’s wedding to Markham. By that time, Rayne had figured out that he’d made a grave mistake. Quite a few mistakes actually that he needed to amend. Julia, on her part, learned that life sometimes isn’t the happiest of places but you live and learn and move on with it. Even if you think love will never come your way since the only person you ever wanted doesn’t want you back. With Rayne’s return it seemed like neither moved on, yet both waiting for the other to take the first step. Of course Rayne also realized he should be the one but frankly, he was ashamed of what he’d done. His sojourn to America had been one of soul-searching.
Rayne’s return will eventually lead to his self-reflection about the whole messy affair since he’d never been able to forget Julia. He knew he will have to apologize to her at the very least if he’s to have any peace of mind. But could marriage even be a ‘thing’ between them? He knew she was too innocent and he didn’t want to ruin her reputation. Oh but if only he knew the real Julia who seemed to believe in ‘seize the day’ better than anybody else. ;) Throw in a kind of silly, quite hastily made (or maybe not, thanks to the ever-meddling Farring’s help) ‘kidnapping’ plot and off we go on a grand adventure that neither of them had seen coming, let alone me, the poor reader. LOL
Julia was, quite frankly, frustrated with Rayne being so wishy-washy about their ‘thing’. God knew the chemistry they shared wasn’t a fluke. It was still there, burning steadily. Even more so now that she’d grown up and he looks all rough and rowdy, just the way she liked him. :P She wanted to avoid him but when she saw him again, she knew it won’t work. As long as Rayne was here, she’d always feel the ‘itch’ to jump him. There was no ‘getting rid of it’. Only she didn’t know how to go about it to convince him that she’s THE ONE for him, and no other, as he’d been for her for years. Farring’s encouragement was all she needed to jump on board that mad scheme. It was now or never because Rayne was determined to leave England for good, if the steps he’d taken to either sell or close down his estates were of any indication.
I’ll also tell you that this book was a hoot, especially from the moment Rayne found out what Julia was up to. By that it was a bit too late to send her back as he was well on his way to another estate, so he was stuck with her. And that was all Julia needed to ‘execute her plans’. But what plan? She had no earthly idea what she would (or could) do to convince him that she’s the one. Even if she had some vague idea about sex, she couldn’t even think of any steps beyond kissing. Oh boy! :P She had instincts aplenty if her private thoughts about Rayne’s attractive physical stature were of any indication, but will that even do anything to a seasoned Rake? *facepalm* I was laughing through all of their banters and Julia’s monologues about Rayne (or the circumference of Rayne’s thighs). Bwahaha
And from Rayne’s monologue you get to know another thing why he didn’t want to ruin Julia’s reputation. He, kind of, had a very adventurous sex life in the past (not mentioned in any previous installment) and he couldn’t quite see Julia fitting into that lifestyle. Ok, he was into bondage and he thought he’d debase Julia if he was to ever initiate her into that. Boy was he wrong in his assessment! Julia would try anything at least once, not only because it was Rayne but because she was just like that. She was with the right man, a man she loves and adores; a man who excites her to no end. That figured out, Rayne kind of gave in cause there was nothing holding him back. Chemistry between them was off the charts and I absolutely loved Rayne’s grumpy, growly side that Julia totally didn’t mind being acquainted with. :D She also discovered that she didn't mind being bound by Rayne in every sense of the word. In the end, them being together just felt completely natural to me.
I can’t stress how much Julia surprised me over and over again with her determination to have Rayne and I absolutely loved that about her. She was a woman who knew her own mind and never wavered; her will made even stronger by Rayne’s own admission of wanting her even if he wasn’t about to do anything about it. Some may call her rash, immature—even I thought that in the beginning— and the whole scheme quite idiotic even if Farring’s part in it made things smoother for her. But I had way too much fun while reading the whole shenanigan.
Needless to say, Diamond In the Rogue will be my other favorite of this series alongside Scandal In Spades. 4.5 stars and highly recommended, though I’d strongly suggest you read the series in order. Now I’m eagerly awaiting Farring’s story. Poor dawg has some issues going on in his own love life that badly needs someone else’s intervention, and I’m not even sure he’s going in the right direction. Would be fun to find out what happens next.
ARC received via netgalley, thanks to Entangled Scandalous.