I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
If the Viscount Falls
This historical romance is a eARC edition that was published by Pocket Books on January 27, 2015 and has 400 pages.
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Fourth & last in The Duke’s Men historical romance series and revolving around the Bonnaud/Manton family and their investigation agency, Manton Investigations, the firm built and run by Dominic Manton and his half-brother, Tristan Bonnaud. The couple focus is on Jane Vernon and Dominick Manton. It’s been twelve years since that fateful night in the Earl of Blakeborough’s ballroom.
In 2016, If the Viscount Falls was nominated for the RITA Award by Romance Writers of America for Historical Romance: Long.
This ARC was provided by NetGalley and Pocket Books in exchange for an honest review.
Okay, I’m still not impressed with this series. I’ve mostly enjoyed Jeffries’ other series, but this one leaves me mostly annoyed due to a combination of melodrama and a strong intrusion of modern language. I like an historical story to reek of the time period, and not feel like a blend. I do think If the Viscount Falls is better than What the Duke Desires, 1, and yet Jeffries continues to employ some fairly lame tropes and continues to ignore the social conventions of the time. Jane should never have gone off with Dom on this investigative trip to York. I do understand why she would: the subconscious desire to be around Dom and her worries about Nancy’s disappearance. Nor would I trust that Dominick would be as assiduous in hunting for Nancy! It’s also doubtful in this time period that illegitimate children of a mere viscount would marry so well. Then again, Zoe has her own secrets to hide and Max’s status puts him above most such concerns. Still, the modern tone clashes with the setting as does some of the language. Dom the Almighty? I can appreciate the intention behind it, but it certainly takes away from the period feel of the story.
I do like the general twist Jeffries has put on this series with a man rising by his own efforts in his rather modern detective agency. The people involved have good family values and they support each other, no matter what. There are yet more twists — setting aside the melodramatic execution and the expectation of seeing Snidley Whiplash twirling a mustache! — with the kidnappings and betrayals!
I did feel a bit off-kilter in reading If the Viscount Falls, and I think I’d have been better off if I’d read When the Rogue Returns, 2, and How the Scoundrel Seduces, 3, before this one. Jeffries does provide enough information to enjoy this story, but you know my OCDness *eye roll* I gotta know it all!
Jeffries takes us back to the beginning, for it’s What the Duke Desires that introduces this story’s hero: the much-put-upon Dominick. Cut from his rightful inheritance (which never did make sense), Dominick cut all ties to the life he knew and created a successful business on his own. A success that should have encouraged our “hero” to make it right with the love of his life. Coward. Still, knowing the desperate importance the ton puts on respectability and lineage, it is understandable that Dom doesn’t want to do anything that would ever jeopardize Jane’s happiness.
Interesting perspective on the duke’s part about choice and what Dom did to force Jane all those years ago. The real reason Jane accepted the trickery Dom played on her. It leads to a quite thoughtful discussion in that carriage as Jane learns how Dom’s early life influenced his choices.
It’s rare that victims get to see their persecutor gets his comeuppance, and the Bonnauds and Dominick are favored by the gods when George goes beyond the pale in How the Scoundrel Seduces.
It’s weird that a merchant’s daughter and his ward would be so welcome in the ton. Normally, they’d have to be incredibly wealthy to even have a chance. And for Nancy to marry a viscount?? She must have had a HUMONGOUS dowry to have made a merchant’s daughter acceptable. Although, as is pointed out in the story, George would do anything to thwart his younger brother.
Jane and Dom do sound like the perfect couple, with those odd preferences they share.
Oh, boy, Jane shares the truth about her parents, and I don’t blame her one bit for holding out for what she wants. I suspect it’s where her fear of what Dom may do to Nancy comes from. She’s doing what every woman should do, realizing the truth about herself and her expectations from marriage and insistent on holding to her course. I also am enjoying the sisterhood who, along with Jane, scheme and plot to bring these two back together.
I haven’t read the two intervening tales — When the Rogue Returns and How the Scoundrel Seduces — so I don’t know the history between the various characters, and Jeffries intrigues me with what Dom suspects of Nancy having orchestrated that night twelve years ago. Seems she got her just deserts IF that’s true. To be fair, I suspect Nancy is more grateful to Dom and company than angry if George truly was that much of a jerk.
I have to agree with Jane about “idiot men”! Dom is absolutely determined to believe the worst. I should think an investigator needs to be more openminded! I suspect, however, that the emotional combination of Jane and his inheriting his brother’s title are throwing off his thought processes.
It’s a space operetta with a strong dash of melodrama with this dancing about the truth of that night twelve years ago when Dom forced Jane to jilt him. And the melodrama continues as Dom and Jane learn more about Nancy’s “escape” and the truth they are hiding from Dom.
As for Dom’s infantile reactions…well, he had better remember who instigated that little scene and the result he orchestrated. He should never be blaming Jane for what he set in motion. The jerk!
It’s an odd re-courtship as they chase down a runaway widow and rediscover each other. Jeffries does a nice job of keeping the suspense of what Jane’s final intentions are.
“…you can set a plan in motion, but as soon as it involves people, it will rarely commence exactly as you wish.”
It begins with an explanation for that night. The night Dom lost Jane forever.
And begins again with a Whitsuntide house party at Winborough’s and thinking back to that ball. If only he had inherited then… It’s too late now. Jane is engaged to Blakeborough and will be a countess. He has no right to her.
Dom will build his own life. Without Jane. He’s transferring the day-to-day business of Manton Investigations to Victor and intends to concentrate on reviving the Rathmoor estate. He doesn’t count on Jane discovering Nancy missing and in dread trouble.
Jane “Freckles” Vernon is a baron’s daughter and had been engaged to Dom before she ended their engagement. She’s now engaged to the Earl of Blakeborough. Her Uncle Horace, a wealthy merchant, is her guardian and Nancy’s father. Hmph, the truth about that night comes out! The shallow Nancy Sadler married George Manton and became the Viscountess Rathmoor; she’s now the widowed Lady Rathmoor. Meredith is Nancy’s maid who has left for London to tend her sick father. The agoraphobic Mrs. Patch is her great-aunt who lives in York with her lapdogs: Rogue, Nell, and Braganza.
Dominick “Dom” Manton had been cut off by his brother, and he refused to marry Jane without being able to support her as he thought she should be. He now heads up his own private investigation agency in London. Skrimshaw, a.k.a., Shaw, is no longer Dom’s butler but is still performing on the stage. George Manton, Viscount Rathmoor, is his older brother who treated him so poorly and committed illegal acts in What the Duke Desires; he died in How the Scoundrel Seduces and Dom has succeeded to the title.
Two years in and Jane and Dom have baby Ambrose. And Little Archer, their spaniel pup from Mrs. Patch’s brood. Eugene is joined by his one-year-old sister, Claudine. Victor and Isa’s 12-year-old Amalie is dancing with a young Max.
Tristan Bonnaud is their illegitimate half-brother now married to Lady Zoe Keane (see How the Scoundrel Seduces) and seems to have taken the name Winborough on marrying Zoe?? Or maybe it’s simply the name of the estate? Jeremy Keane is Lady Zoe’s American artist cousin. Lord Olivier is Zoe’s “father”.
Lisette, Dom’s half-sister and Tristan’s full sister, is married to Max Cale, the Duke of Lyons (see What the Duke Desires). Dr. Worth is Max’s personal physician.
Victor Cale, Max’s cousin, married Isabella (see When the Rogue Returns) and they have a son, Eugene.
Jackson Pinter is Dom’s benefactor and got Dom started as a Bow Street Runner. Lord Ravenswood, the undersecretary to the Home Office, is a spymaster giving it up for politics. Lady Ravenswood is one of the female plotters, lol.
Edwin Barlow is the new earl of Blakeborough, a good friend of the Vernons, and newly engaged to Jane Vernon. The now-disgraced Samuel Barlow, Edwin’s younger brother, arranges prize fights. Yvette is the still-unmarried younger sister.
Hulton was the head of the magistrates at Peterloo.
The Cover and Title
The cover is cute with a swath of the viscount’s velvet and ermine coronation robe that helps give rise to the title. It’s a randy Jane losing the top half of her white gown and ready to resume marital relations with her ready Dom, naked but for his dark breeches.
The title is a cute sexual play on words with Jane quite pleased If the Viscount Falls before her, for Dom shows her that his pomp will always rise.