Mastered by Love by Stephanie Laurens
At long last, Stephanie Laurens has released the conclusion to her popular Bastion Club series. Mastered by Love is the story of Dalziel, aka Royce Varisey. The head spymaster who directed the Bastion club members from Whitehall during the conflict with Napoleon.
For such an aggressive man, I found the story surprisingly passive. Aggressive emotionally--and sexually-- perhaps but passive in terms of the action that normally infuses the Bastion Club novels. The suspense and danger was thrown in at the very end, but the focus was on Royce's struggles to adjust to being a duke--and to convince his bride of choice to accept him.
I have a weakness for finale books and must have the obligatory glimpse of characters from previous installments to make a series feel complete. Laurens delivers that with glimpses not only of Bastion club members but also a few main Cynsters.
Although I really loved Minerva, I found the other characters a little too shallow compared to Laurens's normal characterization. That, combined with the lack of suspense and intrigue normally found in the series, adds to a twinge of disappointment . The romance, though, I considered a bit better--more compelling--than some of the previous installments.
Readers who enjoy the Bastion Club series primarily because of the action will likely be disappointed. But for fans of the series, it's worth reading just to see Royce as himself--and to watch someone normally so supremely confident have to work his way through uncertainty and emotional vulnerability.