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Heiress for Hire

by Madeline Hunter

Series: A Duke's Heiress (1)

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Chase Radnor is investigating the mysterious death of his uncle and finds some of his bequests to strangers suspicious. Minerva is one of the legatees and has some mystery in her own backstory. The two team up to investigate the death and also find out more about the other.
It's a fairly typical historical romance, enjoyable to read with interesting characters. I expect we'll find the murderer in the third book of the series, but I'm willing to take the ride with the three young women who'll feature in the series as the unknowing legatees of the duke. ( )
  N.W.Moors | Apr 29, 2021 |
Set vaguely in the 19th century, judging by the cover art and the characters vaguely attempting to follow society norms of the era, we are vaguely introduced to Minerva Hepplewhite (formerly Mrs.Finnley), just as she has bashed an intruder over the head with a bed warmer. The intruder turns out to be not a thief, but one Chase Radnor, vaguely a member of the aristocracy, by way of his cousin the new Duke, and who vaguely dabbles in Inquiries. He has vaguely begun investigating the untimely death of his uncle, the old Duke, and tracking down the strangers with whom the old Duke was vaguely acquainted, and to whom he has left the unentailed part of his vaguely massive fortune. Chase is vaguely attracted to Minerva, but disinclined to trust her, as she could vaguely be called a suspect. Minerva returns his vague affection and simultaneous distrust, as she was vaguely traumatized by her former husband, now timely deceased, and has also recently decided to go into the vague business of Discreet Inquiries. These are both clever people, and they end up working together to resolve the mystery, while each holding back from the other (and sometimes the reader) some bit of vaguely pertinent information.
The story is enjoyable if you are vaguely interested in romance novels, and don't mind the author's vague interpretation of historical setting and social attitudes. At least she writes well, and plot moves along quickly, even if she only vaguely understands trauma and how someone might respond to surviving an abusive relationship.

Unlike some of the other reviewers here, I paid full price for my paperback copy. ( )
  mbosvyle | Oct 16, 2020 |
I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

When the Duke of Hollingburgh dies suddenly, his will reveals that he has left the bulk of his money and business interests to three women, women the family has never heard of. One of the duke's nephews, Chase, is tasked with finding these three women and with investigating the duke's death. A former soldier who was cashed out under a cloud of suspicion, Chase will only go by the facts in a case and not let his emotions affect him ever again but dealing with family and one of the mysterious heiress, it's harder said than done.

He opened his eyes to see the end of a pistol mere inches from his head. His gaze traveled up the arm that held it, until he looked into the furious dark eyes of a very handsome dark-haired woman. She held the pistol like she knew how to use it.

Heiress For Hire was a leisurely mystery with a mature, tranquil romance and engaging characters. As a first in the series, the set-up for the storyline, that will obviously continue throughout at least what I can discern for three books, takes up a lot of the page time. The former duke's death that our hero Chase is investigating for probable murder is not resolved in this book and will obviously be the thread that ties the series together. While the introduction to the family members and how they are all set-up as red-herrings to keep you guessing was well thought out, it did steal too much time from our main characters and their romance.

It had been stupid to allow herself to taste that which she dare not enjoy in full.

Our heroine, Minerva, is one of the three mysterious women the duke left money to. I found her character and background more flushed out than Chase's and therefore she became the stronger character. Minerva is a widow who has changed her name to distance herself from any possible negativity to do with a trial that tried to convict her of murdering her husband. This is what sparks some of the conflict in keeping Chase and Minerva wary of each other. Chase believes his uncle was murdered and Minerva doesn't want her past dredged up and understands that she would be a prime suspect in the duke's possible murder. Minerva's husband was also abusive and this leads her to being slightly fearful of intimacy with Chase but the agency and control Chase gives to her during their moments of closeness have her healing and moving forward in this regard.

He hated how being disillusioned once had him guarding information now.

Chase's background and cloud over his leaving the army is kept secret for the majority of the book and while his friendship with his cousins, the new duke Nicholas and Kevin and his calm deliberate care towards Minerva, give insight to his personality, I still felt he wasn't colored in enough. I think I was around one-hundred pages in and I realized because of Chase and Minerva's background still kept secret and the focus more on the murder mystery set-up, I felt like I still didn't know these characters. Towards the end when Minerva and Chase get more time together, I enjoyed their by-play and interactions, which were smooth and calm. There really is no angst or dramatic flares to the story or characters, if you're looking for a more mature and comfortable romance, this would be the couple to read.

Secondary characters filled this story out wonderfully but the romance was overtaken by the series set-up too much for me. Minerva and Chase were a couple where the gradual friendship definitely built the trust to make acting on their mutual attraction believable. I just wish I had felt closer to them and the pace of the story was picked up a bit. I am curious to see who the other two mystery heiresses will be and if Chase's cousins Nicholas and Kevin will be paired with them. ( )
  WhiskeyintheJar | Aug 11, 2020 |
I received an ARC of this book through the Goodreads giveaway.

Cute story, the sex scenes were tasteful but passionate (warning: the story includes explicit sex), likeable characters (even the minor characters held my interest) -- I wouldn't call this a "historical novel" because nothing about the story or the writing grounded it in any place or time. It could just as easily have been set in 1920s New York (just change the name of the streets and plazas, change the fashions and the titles, and -- voilĂ ! -- you have another novel titled Heiress for Hire. Even the cover art is too generic to ground the story in place or time. For the most part it was well-written, with just a little bit of the point-of-view head-hopping which romance novels are notorious for. Not too many information dumps, and at least they are brought on subtly. The characters are intelligent and figure things out right after the reader does -- the characters are not made out to be Too Stupid To Live, in fact, they are quite intelligent. The suspense in the story doesn't depend on some ridiculous misunderstanding, but rather, an actual mystery. For all that the novel has no historical grounding, I liked it.

I'm sure the next books in the series will also be intelligent and fun to read.

~bint
  bintarab | Aug 7, 2020 |
Mysteries develop!

An eccentric bachelor duke is dead and family expectations are not met.
Minerva Hepplewhite, a woman with secrets, inherits a small fortune from said Duke. A man unknown to her. It's in her interests to investigate the circumstances around the Duke's death to ensure that her secrets aren't revealed, otherwise the suspicions about his death might fall upon her.
This woman who investigates secrets meets with another more experienced investigator.
Chase Radnor, a man used to secrets, nephew to the eccentric Duke Hollinburgh, investigates his death for his own reasons, and on behalf of the home secretary, Robert Peel.
Of course Chase and Minerva come into contact--in a most unexpected way.
Of course that contact has an underlying frisson of sexual energy.
Minerva however wants nothing to do with men, given her experience at her dead husband's hands.
There are some interesting characters that feel like they might grow into more.
Minerva's small adopted family circle for one. Her cook / housekeeper Beth and son Jeremy. Chase's valet and sometime agent (or so he claims) Briggs. Chases's various relatives, the grasping and the frustrated. All have a story.
In the end we don't know who killed the Duke. Will future works in the series reveal that? In part that doesn't matter. What is important is Chase and Minerva's story and their road to emotional healing. A chancy technique leaving us hanging, but it works.
It seems the death of the Duke will be an organizing theme for future books in the series. An interesting hook!

A Kensington Books ARC via NetGalley ( )
  eyes.2c | Apr 29, 2020 |
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