Mastered by Love

Stephanie Laurens
Mastered by Love
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Release Date
July 2009
Book 8 of Bastian Club
Historical Romance

The men of the Bastion Club proved their bravery secretly fighting for their country. Now their leader faces that most dangerous mission of all: finding a bride.

As the mysterious leader of the Bastion Club known as "Dalziel," Royce Varisey, tenth Duke of Wolverstone, served his country for decades, facing dangers untold. But as the holder of one of England's most august noble titles, he must now take on that gravest duty of all: marriage.

Yet the young ladies the grande dames would have him consider are predictably boring. Far more tempting is his castle's willful and determinedly aloof chatelaine, Minerva Chesterton. Beneath her serene façade lies a woman of smoldering sensuality, one who will fill his days with comfort and his nights with sheer pleasure. Determined to claim her, he embarks on a seduction to prove his mastery over every inch of her body . . . and every piece of her heart.

Book Review by Ashia (reviewer)
Oct 09, 2011   [ OFFICIAL REVIEW ]
116 people found the following review helpful
I was absolutely bowled over by my first taste of Stephanie Laurens' full-length novel. Though MASTERED BY LOVE is the last book in the Bastion Club series, and I had qualms about starting a series with the last book, I'm happy to report that it is totally standalone, and not having read the previous books didn't mar my enjoyment of it at all. In fact, I'm now going to search out the previous books to learn more about Royce!

At the end of the war, with Napoleon defeated, Royce sold out his commission, ready to go home and reconcile with his father. Unfortunately, his father had recently died, leaving him to flounder, as years of being the chief master spy didn't leave him trained to take up ducal responsibilities. Fortunately, Minerva Chesterton, once companion to his mother (now deceased), was the chatelaine, and she was able to guide him.

He felt a strong and powerful attraction to her, and was dumbfounded when it seemed she was immune to him. When the grande dames of society informed him that he needs to marry and soon, he found himself unable to contemplate any lady being his duchess but his chatelaine. But first, he had to learn to seduce her...

MASTERED BY LOVE was powerfully written, as befits the powerful Duke of Wolverstone, Royce Varisey, who came off the page as larger than life, more so than any hero I've read of before. Forceful in temperament, with fierce needs kept barely in check, he was portrayed as a strong, extremely virile male, the alpha male of alpha males. *shiver* It would take a strong, strong woman to "tame" and "master" him, and Minerva, I'm happy to say, is more than his perfect match. He was understandably arrogant (ladies fall at his feet), and I laughed when he said he didn't know how to seduce a lady! Well, he didn't need to, so he never had a chance to learn. Yet, for the sake of luring Minerva to his bed, he was willing to learn. I like that he decided early on that only Minerva would do to be his duchess. He quite endeared himself to me at that point, if he hadn't yet.

Minerva, who's been in love with Royce since she came to live with them at age six, knew Royce better than anyone, maybe even himself. Living with and being trained by his parents, she learned how to manage Royce into going the direction that she wanted him to go. She knew him, could stand her ground against him, and knew when to stop so as not to trigger his formidable temper. She was truly magnificent in the scene when she said about how no one was allowed to harm their joint cause. She came off as strong and forceful, really the perfect duchess for Royce. Wow. My mouth literally hung open the entire time she made her speech. The best thing about Minerva is that she cares--about Wolverstone, the land and its people.

A suspense subplot ran through the book, involving the last traitor who seemed to have eluded the Bastion Club thus far. I get the impression that this person's activities have spoiled things for the Bastion Club in the past and that he's never been caught, but the threat from this quarter was written in such a way that it is perfectly understandable for new readers to the series. However, this book is more romance than suspense, because the suspense element was almost non-consequential, and I have to admit that the villain's worry and concern about being found out was unfounded. No one knew it was him! He'd been hiding in plain sight for all these years. What made him think just because he was invited to Wolverstone he'd be found out! Morever, he could've left the place as soon as was possible, but no, he remained behind. At the risk of revealing further, which might contain spoilers, suffice it to say, the suspense subplot was rather weak. If not to bring closure to the series, I'd say this thread was totally unneccessary.

The other part of the book that I puzzled over was the way the grande dames sought to force Royce's hand into marriage. In all the historical romances I've read, I hadn't come across even one book where the grande dames of the ton was interested enough in a duke's status as to seek ways to push him up the marriage aisle. Though I understand the reason for it, the threat to Royce's life as it is from a quarter unimaginable, I was puzzled as to the grande dames' motivation, especially as not a one was particularly close to Royce or his family. This made me feel that this element was included so as to give a certain sense of urgency to Royce's situation (one week being the timeline) and that Royce would be forced to step up his campaign to win Minerva.

Though it annoyed me that such a ploy needed to be employed (forgive me if I'm wrong), it didn't mar my enjoyment of reading this story. MASTERED BY LOVE is powerfully written, as befits the fierce hero and strong heroine. Intensity practically vibrated from every page of the book, especially in scenes that contain Royce and Minerva, most especially when they were making love. If you love alpha males, MASTERED BY LOVE is one story you shouldn't miss.
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