‘The Most High, Noble and Potent Prince, His Grace Padraic, Duke of Waterford.’
After enduring the Ducal Grand Entrance, one might be forgiven for thinking that an evening could only improve. One would be wrong. Padraic was then duty bound to find an amiable miss to romance and dance attendance upon. In truth, the Duke was rather more partial to establishments that promised charms he would ne’er find in the arms of a Lady. Such dalliances did add a dash of decadence to his life of ducal drudgery, but time was tick-tocking and a blue-stocking bride must be wooed, and wed…
Raff of the Rookeries. The most afeared rake-hell to have haunted the highways since Darkin denied them the pleasure at the gallows by stepping off the ladder before they could whip it from beneath his feet. Raff had fought his way up to rule the roost with instincts as razor-sharp as his dirk. His sword skills, fists, and wily wits had stood him in good stead, but none had proved as invaluable as the weapon he’d ne’er had need to tend. His fury. A rage every bit as lethal as arsenic—deadlier than brawn, brains, or bravado—Raphael had carried it like a toxic plague. Until, he became Raff of the Rookeries. Unleashed upon the underworld, it was the most formidable foe in London. Two men from two different worlds…a mere few miles apart. That is, until the fateful night when The Duke was halted in his tracks by a very Dandy Highwayman…
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Publisher: Independently Published
Heat Level: 4
Romantic Content: 4
Ending: Click here to reveal
Character Identities: Bisexual, Gay
Protagonist 1 Age: 26-35
Protagonist 2 Age: 26-35
Tropes: Antihero, Criminals & Outlaws, Cultural Differences, Forbidden Love, Passing as Straight
Word Count: 31,500
Setting: Regency London
Languages Available: English
Series Type: Continuous / Same Characters
Thus, it came as no small relief to find solace in a second pair of devilish eyes, where he might soothe both himself and his restless steed with whispered words and a gentling hand. Demon was the only creature on earth Raff trusted…and the only one he permitted himself tenderness toward. Disquietude somewhat becalmed, Raff turned back to the Duke.
“I'm the dandy highwayman who you're too scared to mention. Stand and deliver. Your money or your life. Try to use a mirror, not a bullet or a knife.” ~ Adam and the Ants (Stand and Deliver)
His Grace Padraic, Duke of Waterford, of 'The Duke and the Dandy Highwayman' by Zakarrie Clarke, is on his way home from another boring social function, which, due to his station in life, he is duty-bound to attend. While contemplating what his future holds, i.e., looking for a wife and having children to carry on his title, which is the last thing he wants to do, his carriage comes to an abrupt halt.
After being confronted by the rogue who is attempting to rob him, Padraic discovers that he is none other than Raff of the Rookeries, an infamous highwayman who has struck fear into the hearts of many unsuspecting travelers. By all rights, Padraic should have been terrified at being accosted by a highwayman of ill repute, but to his surprise, he becomes sexually aroused. This turn of events is certainly nothing he witnessed so far in his rather mundane existence and he is relishing in the rush of it all. When the highway man discovers that Padraic has no money with him, he is incensed. Raff decides that the only thing he can do is kidnap Padraic and hold him for ransom. He forces Padraic onto his horse and heads for his hideout, frustrated at how good Padraic feels pressed against him. These feelings disturb him because, after all, Padraic is his prisoner. How is he going to strike terror in his prey's heart while he is aroused?
When they arrive at Raff's room, Padraic is surprised at the decadence of the place. It's not at all what he was expecting considering the disreputable part of town in which it is situated and the fact that it's an outlaw's lair. In fact, everything about Raff is surprising, from his obviously fake Cockney accent to his unusually accommodating manner. It's as if he slips at times and forgets who he is trying to be and that Padraic is his captive, not a friend or a lover. Raff tries to intimidate Padraic with threats of sexual violence which only serves to delight Padraic, not frighten him. Raff is wondering what in the world he is going to do with Padraic. Since he isn't threatened by anything Raff does, he is at a loss as to know what to do – continue to try to treat him as his captive, or give in to his carnal desires and make Padraic his lover, as well as his prisoner.
This is a delightful historical romance, punctuated with lots of flowery language, humor, and an atypical cast of characters. It blows the theory of bad man and victim out of the water with hilarious and very sexy results. Thanks, Zakarrie, for all the laughs and passionate encounters. I can hardly wait for the next book in the series to see what these two get up to next.