Release Date: Apr 28, 2020
Series: A Duke’s Heiress
Heat Level: Warm
Heiress for Hire is the first in a new series by Madeline Hunter, which begins the tale of a mysterious will from a duke that leaves legacies for three previously unknown women. In true peerage fashion there is much distress about unknowns receiving money from the duchy. One of the cousins, Chase Radnor, is dispatched to learn more about the new heiress and discover if the Duke’s death was as it appeared.
This book starts off with a bang, quite literally, and we are given quick introduction to Minerva Hepplewhite as she stands over the prone body of an intruder. The intruder is of course our hero, Chase, on a mission to find out more about the woman named in his uncle’s will. It turns out that Minerva is a bit of an inquiry agent herself with dreams of opening her own business. She begins her own investigation, setting these two up for a bit of a rivals to lovers trope that never fully forms a true rivalry.
Chase is a very familiar Regency hero. As a grandson to a Duke, he has few career choices after selling his commission, so he begins working as a private inquiry agent with some ties to the Home Office. While much of his character is steeped in typical romance hero tropes, I found Chase to be a refreshing take. He was exceedingly intelligent, and honest with his thoughts and actions. He was very open and gracious with Minerva and the cherished servants in her home, and a true beta hero in my opinion.
I was immediately drawn to the idea of a lady detective set in Regency England, as it’s not a character I had read before. Minerva is written as a strong woman, who has had to learn to take care of herself in an era when most women were not brave or able enough to do so. However, I had a hard time forming any attachment to Minerva. My brain told me she was a character I should like but, I just couldn’t get a good sense of her, her emotions, or her motivations.
Together this couple failed to light a spark on the page, in fact when Chase’s thoughts suddenly turned amorous towards Minerva, I was a bit shocked. Minerva spent an appallingly little amount of time thinking about Chase in a romantic way. Once the attraction is explored, I believed Chase’s interest much more than hers, and was disappointed in him that he was okay with her tepid reactions. I understand that some of these reactions from Minerva get explained away but felt very little time was spent exploring what she was feeling and how her life was changing. Love scenes were very non-descriptive and quick, and the lack of passion only made it harder for me to care for this couple.
As the story goes on, the two mysteries start to intertwine, and we only get resolution to one. I found that the pacing of the story moved a bit slowly for me, and much of the inquiry resulted in no information being discovered. Towards the middle of the story I struggled to hold my interest as not much action was occurring. For a book that had a possible murder as a central mystery, I felt little urgency from the characters to solve the matter. The ending wraps up in a tidy little bow for most of the Minerva and Chase, and I assume the rest will be revealed in later books.
Overall, I’d give this book a 3 out of 5. It truly was just a middle of the road experience for me. Unfortunately, that bang at the beginning was not an indicator of more to come. The idea of three unknowns inheriting from a stranger is intriguing, and I can only hope that the next books manage to answer some lingering questions. Content warning for violence to women on the page, as well as abuse and suicide off the page.