The Millionaire Rogue (Hope Diamond Trilogy) by Jessica Peterson
Overview by Amazon:
Though not of noble birth, Thomas Hope has a skill in banking that’s made him one of the richest, most trusted men in London. Still, he keeps his dubious past hidden. So when an old acquaintance calls on Hope to help acquire the infamous French Blue Diamond, he’s desperate to be discreet. He never expects that his biggest concern shouldn’t be losing his reputation, but his heart…
Sophia Blaise is determined to make a brilliant match with this season’s most eligible, most titled bachelor, but her true passion has been ignited by the incredible stories she hears while secretly transcribing the memoirs of a notorious Madam. After a night of clandestine writing ends with Sophia caught up in a scandalous adventure of her own—with an alluring banker—she begins to question whether she’s suited to the proper life she’s always known…
Caught up in a thrilling exploit and unexpected romance, Sophia must make a choice between what her head knows is safe and what her heart desperately desires, before both slip from her grasp forever…
This was an amazing book! I adore when the hero and heroine are on a secret adventure together. The lines are drawn in the sand in England in the early 1800s; men in trade (even very successful ones) are not what debutante’s dream of marrying. Sophia and Thomas know of each other, but have never really met. One evening a dangerous encounter brings them close together and sets off a chain of events that has them challenging society’s expectations and their own.
We meet Thomas first. He is an owner of a bank and has worked his whole life to regain the stature of his family’s name in the banking world. Through a guest, Mr. Lake, we learn that the road to redemption for Thomas was a long and complicated one. He has been working as a spy in France for the English and through this work; he was able to generate the fund and contacts to build his banking empire. But there is blood on his hands and his contact Mr. Lake has a job for him. He must get the Blue Diamond from the Princess of Wales. There is a political reason the diamond is needed – an interesting plot point. Thomas wants the diamond as he is obsessed with it, but he doesn’t want to relive his life as a spy. Just being in contact with Mr. Lake has made him the target of French spies and a rough night ensues.
He runs to the brothel, The Glossy, run by Madam a Frenchwoman he has known for years. He is shocked to find her entertaining a lovely, young debutante Miss Sophia Blaise. They end up in a safe room pressed together. Sophia has been slipping out late at night to meet with Madam to ghost write her memoirs for her. She is entranced with the life the Madam has led and longs for adventure of her own.
Sophia wants a great match after her first season. She has caught the attention of the Marquess of Withington and is the envy of all the other debutantes. She wants the security and safety of a marriage into a stable and wealthy family as her own family has been teetering on the brink of financial insecurity for years. She doesn’t need to marry a Lord, as her family tells her, but she sees it as the prudent and wisest thing to do. She likes Withington and finds him decent, but she has never had her heart beating for a man the way it does when she is in the safe room with Thomas.
And so starts the clandestine adventures they share. Thomas is horrified to bring a lady like Sophia into his work for Mr. Lake, but after she has been spotted by the French, he has no choice. It’s always amusing when these two are together. They are excited by each other and yet wary of the danger they are in. When they visit the Princess of Wales to buy the Blue Diamond, it was such a hilarious scene that I was laughing out loud.
Another scene that had me laughing and worried was the ball that Thomas throws. A chance to show off the beautiful Blue Diamond on the neck of Sophia’s cousin Violet. However, the most astonishing things happen at this ball and the diamond is gone. It’s almost comical how the diamond disappears and the distraction that is used to cover the crime. The rest of the story is spent exploring Thomas and Sophia’s adventure to recapture the diamond and save Thomas’s bank and reputation. Sophia and Thomas dance around each other and find they can’t stay away from each other, just as they can’t stop searching for the diamond. Sophia is still being seriously courted by Withington and Thomas is seeing his future dwindle into nothing. The tension towards the end is so thick you worry how this will all turn out.
All the time they spend together allows them the time to get to know each other without the eyes and ears of society. Thomas gets to know the real Sophia and for a man who has shut himself off for years, it is impressive that he shares his thoughts with Sophia. The passion the two share is very hot. The scenes are well written and very detailed – look forward to at least a couple of pages for each encounter. It’s all in the details!
That is when you know the story is one that has you hooked. You laugh at funny elements and are nervous for the tense, scary parts that make you worry for the characters. The plot is well developed and the secondary characters are a riot. Madam is a wonderful character – she has lived a very rich life and she is a very complex character and one of the only that both Sophia and Thomas know independently of each other. Sophia’s cousin Violet is a wonderful character and adds some realism to the story. The Earl of Harclay is a snarky, sneaky man who you can’t decide if you hate him or like him half the time. Sophia’s mother seems to spend most of her time fainting and in bed from her hijinks. Mr. Lake is a very complicated and interesting character and he’s like a shadow – one minute there and the next gone. All the characters really enhance the story and make it a believable plot and add more emotion and gravity to the story.
Sophia and Thomas are wonderful characters. The author has created a mysterious adventure that brings together two people who are perfect for each other. I really enjoyed this book and felt that it was an excellent read. I can’t wait to read the next one in the series.