A Lady's Code of Misconduct

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 5 Nov 2018

Member Reviews

Trapped in the countryside, facing an unwanted marriage and the theft of her fortune, Jane Mason is done behaving nicely. To win her freedom, she’ll strike a deal with the most dangerous man she knows—a rising star in politics, whose dark good looks mask an even darker heart. The bitter past has taught Crispin Burke to trust no one. He’ll gladly help a lovely young heiress, provided she pays a price. Yet when a single mistake shatters his life, it is Jane who holds the key to his salvation. And in a world that no longer makes sense, Crispin slowly realizes that she may be the only thing worth fighting for..
This was the first book I read by this author so I wasn’t really sure what to expect. The journey she takes you through was an enjoyable ride. The story starts one way and she throws in such twists that it ends in a way you didn’t see at the beginning. I really loved both main characters and thought they were very well written and not just the typical characters written in Historical Romances. I highly recommend.
**I voluntarily read and reviewed this book
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This book is brilliant. Heartbreakingly beautifully written. Everyone who loves serious historical romance should read it. I have read many of this authors works and they have all been very good. But this one is something special.
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I really enjoyed this book, but I definitely had to be in the mood for it.  I picked it up multiple times before I really got going.  One thing that Duran is fantastic at is darker characters, but I'm not 100% certain that the hero of this book would completely reform regarding his political aspirations.  I also maybe shouldn't have read this book while I am so frustrated already by politics, because it just makes it incredibly frustrating.  His goal wasn't to help people it was to win and amass power.  And since that's what the majority of politicians seem to be like, I couldn't quite escape into the novel the way I like to.  I still enjoyed it though.
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Cleaning out my netgalley of books that never got downloaded and so they are not on my kindle. Sorry I never got to this one.
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This was my first book by Meredith Duran and it won't be my last. I thoroughly enjoyed her rich  and engaging characters. She creates characters readers will care about and root for.
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Miss Bates was conflicted reading Duran’s latest, A Lady’s Code Of Misconduct, her responses a roller-coaster of dips and climbs of disappointment or enthusiasm. Misconduct contains Duran’s signature themes: trust, conscience, identity, wealth, class, ambition, power, and how they mesh, shift, and change as two people who start out one way make their way to their better selves because they discover they love the other.

To start, Duran’s narrative takes a convoluted route, opening with a compelling scene and then flashback to bring us the sequence of events leading to it. A man in his prime, a Victorian MP, Crispin Burke, lies dying of a head wound in his parents’ London house. Charlotte, his sister, brings a young woman to his death-bed, a woman who is familiar, yet he’s ignorant of their relationship. Jane Burke, née Mason, announces she is his wife.

Duran then takes us three months prior: filling in Crispin and Jane’s unholy alliance, bred of coercion, manipulation, and expediency. Duran’s plot starts and remains tangled. Crispin and Jane have been long-acquainted: Crispin, a frequent visitor to Jane’s uncle’s, her guardian’s, estate. Allied by ambition, Crispin and Uncle Philip shared a politics of personal gain. They’re not friends, nor loyal, content to use each other for political gain. Duran sets up the villainy: by pointing to how people, without love, see the other as an object, used for personal advancement.

In flashback, we learn Jane and Crispin’s marriage-of-convenience came at the end of an antagonistic yet mutually beneficial arrangement. Jane and Crispin are initially trapped by money and, in turn, want to use money to free themselves. Jane is an heiress, but Uncle Philip is using her money to advance politically and financially. He’s sequestered her in the country; at 23, she’s never been to London, or had a début as would be her heiress-wont. Philip plans to marry Jane to his gormless son, Archibald, to ensure her fortune remains “in the family.” Jane, despite her meek, lacklustre appearance, plans an escape, marry for convenience and gain control of her fortune. Crispin catches and returns her to Uncle Philip – with a proviso to save her reputation and keep her plans secret as long as she spies on Philip on his behalf. In return, he will help her avoid Archibald by providing her with a false marriage, thanks to an archbishop Crispin has in his pocket. (What Spy-Jane discovers, which we don’t learn about till long after Crispin miraculously survives the head-blow that felled him when he was set upon by ruffians, is the novel’s romantic suspense plot’s crux.)

Miss Bates enjoyed how Duran showed Crispin and Jane entrapped by money: Jane because she had it and Crispin because, as a second son, he didn’t. As Crispin lies dying, Jane, though we’re never witness to this scene, uses Crispin’s arrangement with the archbishop to create a mock-marriage with him, ensuring her escape from Uncle Philip. Except Crispin doesn’t die and the archbishop does. When Crispin wakes, it is to the sight of his wife, Jane. And wife she is as far as he’s concerned because Crispin has amnesia. With the archbishop dead, her fortune still tied up with her uncle, no means to undo the “marriage” (as it is on public record), Jane finds herself married to the man who, until now, was her drama’s villain.   

Duran’s premise swallows her novel’s first half. Miss Bates wasn’t impressed. But Duran is a novelist capable of complex, interesting characterisation. Her characters’ inner worlds, motivations and conflicts, inner and with each other, win her over. Duran uses Crispin’s amnesia and physical weakness, much as Kinsale does Jervaulx’s stroke, to call forth the emergence of a better man and cement the romance’s main theme – love brings about a transformation that is in potentia given the right conditions: a change of heart brought about by caring for the beloved. Crispin’s journey is in becoming a good man, which, given that he doesn’t remember the villain-self who bribed and coerced his way into political power, is, at least initially, as easy as simply deciding to be his best self. 

Duran has a character quandary and MissB. isn’t sure she answered it well. From whence does this new, improved Crispin come? It can’t be, at least initially, from his love for Jane: he can’t love what he can’t remember; at most, what he feels is a gentleman’s duty and good will. “Good” Crispin fails at first because he seems to appear like Athena sprung from her father, Zeus’s head – out of the blue, Crispin, a gracious, warm being. He seems to come from a decent family and behaves as they would have a gentleman, with manners, education, and grace. So, what created Past-Bad-Crispin? Sadly, there’s melodrama and hurt, blame, and a “sad sad thing” that happened. Bit of a cop-out, thought MissB., when compared to Jervaulx’s frustrated little cruelties, Good-Crispin is less interesting than Flashback-Crispin.

What of Jane? Considered superficially, Jane is less compelling. Her flaws are borne of being a woman at a time when women were “less than”. Her sins are deception and not speaking her mind, not showing what a fine mind she has. Being married to the loving, understanding Crispin-Two gives her that freedom. Jane blossoms under him and comes forth as a highly intelligent, moral woman. With Jane’s blooming, the care for the poor and oppressed her parents taught her, comes to light. Jane guides Improved-Crispin to ethical political choices and the championing of causes to help the vulnerable. Jane manifests as a political thinker as astute as Crispin: now they’re on the right side and united, the good they can do is boundless. This part of the novel was well done. (Miss Bates enjoyed it as much as she did the relationship portrayed in the film, Amazing Grace, between William Wilberforce and Barbara Spooner.)

Jane’s mistrust of her husband (will he go back to Bad-Crispin once he remembers all?) becomes a point of contention/confusion for Crispin. When Crispin remembers the man he was, he understands Jane’s misgivings. He feels shame, but also wants her to love the whole of him, flaws, past, and all. Crispin wants Jane to choose him, even knowing who he was, not only because he now uses his formidable abilities for good. In turn, Jane is ashamed of her deception and feels she’s living on borrowed time with the New-Crispin she loves. It’s a mess, but Duran has something to say about what Crispin and Jane need to do to “unmess” and make their way to love and commitment. An integration of personality, with flaws, foibles, weaknesses, vulnerabilities, and even villainies, must be achieved within both hero and heroine in the service of love, commitment, fidelity, and the greater good, the community, for true happiness to be possible.

Duran’s novel is convoluted and contrived, but also thought-provoking. It is the romance of a couple’s great journey learning to bare their softest, truest selves to be free to live their love. In the end, Misses Austen and Bates were won over by Duran’s A Lady’s Code Of Misconduct: “a mind lively and at ease,” Emma.

Meredith Duran’s A Lady’s Code Of Misconduct is published by Pocket Books. It was released in February 2017 and is available at your preferred vendors. Miss Bates received an e-ARC from Pocket Books, via Netgalley.
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4.5/5.0 stars
Love. Politics. History. Conspiracies. Conflicting morals. Deceit. Redemption. And hot-bad-boy guy with a secretly good heart... and a hot-good-of-heart girl with lots of brains and a rebellious spirit. There are lots of "and's" in my last sentence... I know.
Something I was not expecting in this story was the politics driven plot intertwined with a love story. Although, the surprising part is. That. I. Freaking. Loved. It. I was expecting to get bored and forced myself to finish the book. That was so not the case. It was exactly what I needed: A good romance story which is not too focused on the romance part. Oxymoron right there. 
The beginning is what hooked me up in the first place. Not too fast and not too slow. Our beloved characters were in positions where they will do anything to get what they desire. This leads to an unlikely alliance to form between the desire of freedom and power which sparks the chances of a new beginning for our protagonists.
Jane and Crispin go through a fantastic character development. They realize that people are not completely good or evil. You just have to choose which side to use more but most importantly how to find a balance between the two. Speaking of character growth. I was not a big fan of acknowledging someone as being two persons in the same time. It was like the author was trying to say Crispin had a split personality... I understood where she was going with it... But it still felt a bit cringe worthy at times.
What I admired the most in this story was the sense of a real partnership between the main characters. And believe it or not is quite rare these days. It was not about sexual lust and how it can lead to a good relationship in the end... It was so much more than that. It was... How do you say it? Complicated. Yes. Complicated.
Of course, most people might get turned off by the plot focused on politics which is understandable if you are not a big politics fan - like myself, I could say. However, you might also surprisingly find yourself enjoying the book just... like myself. :D
All in all, I could proudly say that this was my cuppa tea. One of my all time favorites - romance section - I dare to say.

This is my sole opinion. ^_^

I would like to say thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for providing a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest opinion.
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A Lady's Code of Misconduct was not what I expected.  True, it had all the elements of what I like about historical romances, a female protagonist that is "trapped" in societal conventions and a scheming family and a male hero that happens to be well not a gentleman at all.  But here, the simple plot and story line is nowhere to be found.  Crispin is really not a good man when the story begins, in fact, he is a manipulative politician who has blackmailed and schemed his way into the political scene.  Readers will know little about him until later on in the book, what made him the way he is.  Jane is also described as trapped by her uncle's own ambition and his desires to fully control her considerable fortune.  We as readers clearly see how she wants to free herself from her situation and when she does make her plans to escape it is Crispin who blackmails her to be his spy to ultimately save her from further being in her uncle's control.  There is no apparent attraction at all between these two, there is a curiosity but it's more how to be able to manipulate the situation for both of them to get what they want.  As we get further and further into the plot, which is really well thought out and very intricately composed, both Crispin and Jane start realizing things about themselves and their developing attraction with each other.  The really unique thing here is there is no instant resolution of the problem, there is no quick fix, everything is handled just like a real life relationship and this is refreshing.  A Lady's Code of Misconduct is not sweet or light in tone, but it is no less entertaining nor engaging because of it.  Definitely, a must read.
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Lovely romance with political intrigue. When Jane's parents died, she was left in the care of her power hungry villainous uncle. Insistent on keeping control of Jane's fortune her uncle is insistent that she marry her cousin, his son. Taking the advice of her uncle's rogue colleague, the infamous Crispin, Jane decides to elope. When Crispin is attacked and left in a coma, he happens to be the perfect target to make Jane a widow and give her freedom. The only problem is that he wakes up, with no memory of the last few years when he made the transition from studious young man to cutthroat power seeker. As he begins to recall how or why he changed, his new growing relationship with Jane will help him change his life as he helps her keep her freedom and independence from her uncle.
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Very empowering story with a beautiful romance - Book 5 in the series but absolutely can stand alone.
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It was one of my favourite tropes, peeps, - an antihero in love.

Both Jane, the heiress, and Crispin, the young and already ruthless politician, are more than they seem. Jane is forced to be quiet and mousy to avoid attention and a heavy hand of her uncle who is currently going through her inheritance, while she is trying to plot an escape.

Crispin's cold ambition hides an agenda, which spurs him to a discreet investigation. Both their worlds collide, and Crispin realises he can use Jane's sharp powers of observation while she knows she can benefit from his connections and experience for her own gain. So, they start working with each other.

The initial interactions are fascinating. He is icy, devious, provocative and snarky. She gives as good as she gets, by using his own moves to get back at him. But then another trope happens, one which I really dislike - the dreadful amnesia used to bring together characters who won't fall for each other otherwise.

Woopdidoo! She pretends he is her husband to finally escape her uncle, justifying her move by his unlikeability. And he turns into a caring, wonderful man overnight, a man she falls for while dying from guilt for using him.

There is also a mystery of his investigation and an interesting angle on his political career in which Jane manages to play a major role.

While they are a lovely duo, and he empowers her in every way, I'd have loved for them both to fall in love despite their shortcomings and then for him to slowly reform without a convenient shortcut. Otherwise, it's a sweet book which I totally recommend. Definitely, an interesting read.
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This one took me a bit longer than usual to get into and to finish. I think that maybe I went in to this read expecting too much. Crispin had me with his name. Then the dark, broody, good looks, sharp political mind and fierceness stole my heart and turned me into a mushy pile. With further turns of the pages that turned in to new chapters, I found myself in love with Jane and Crispin together. 

Jane found herself in a predicament. The only way she saw out of it was to do what needed to be done. She had to make a deal with a devil. But this devil was not the devil she was expecting. He was so much more and then some. Crispin put Jane’s world on a new course. She may have just change the scales in Crispin’s world also. Jane was strong, independent, resourceful, smart, capable, and fierce in her own rights. She was a very worthy female lead. She was able to capture my devotion on her own. 

I loved Crispin and Jane. I would like to go back and read the other stories in this series. I have just added a new historical author to my repertoire. Pick up A Lady’s Code of Misconduct read it, enjoy it, fall in love with Crispin and Jane.
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Books for Her is one of the first stops in A Lady's Code of Misconduct blog tour- and we are honored and thrilled! If you read our review of Fool Me Twice, you'll know that Meredith Duran is one of our favorites and made our Top 10 Historical Romance Authors List.  After getting a digital copy this weekend, we jumped right in (already taking every spare moment to get some more pages in) - so here's our pre-review about 100 pages in and we're already guaranteeing it's a great read.

****4.5/5 starscover-final

Another winner with fabulous characters and a refreshing story ... it's everything you expect from Meredith Duran, one of top 10 favorite romance authors.

Recommended readers:

If you love a strong, independent heroine
If you love mystery tied into your romance
Here’s my Rankings:

4.5/5 for characters
4.5/5 for plot
4.5/5 overall

(Update May 2017)

Now that we are finally getting to publishing the full review (we finished the book within a week!), we can say A Lady's Code is a definite must-read for any historical romance buff. There's just the right mix of adventure and fun twists - combined with romance. And not the kind of jump right in romance you see often in romance, but a delayed, oh-I-shouldn't type of romance.
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Nach einer schweren Kopfverletzung und 5 Tagen Koma erwacht Crispin wider erwarten, die Ärzte hatten ihn schon aufgegeben. Er kommt in einem Alptraum zu sich, seine Eltern und das Stadthaus sind völlig verändert, er kann sich an die letzte Zeit nicht erinnern und eine ihm unbekannte junge Frau behauptet seine Ehegattin zu sein.

Drei Monate zuvor wird Jane Zeugin eines politischen Streits zwischen Crispin und ihrem Onkel. Crispin plant neuer Premierminister zu werden und sammelt oder kauft die Unterstützter für diesen Plan. Nach dem Tod vorzeitigen Tod ihrer Eltern lebt sie bei ihren Onkel, dessen Familie gut von der Vermögensverwaltung von Janes Erbe lebt. Junge heiratswillige Männer werden ihr nie vorgestellt, da man diesen wohlsituierten Zustand nicht verlieren will. Wobei ihre Bekanntschaft zu Crispin nicht zählt, da er sowieso nicht als achtbarer Gentleman gilt. Sie erlebt ihn bei seinen Besuchen im Haus als mächtig, kalt und rücksichtslos. Sie hält ihn und ihren Onkel für Monster. Ihr Onkel finanziert seine politischen Ambitionen quasi mit ihrem Geld.

Schon in der folgenden Nacht flüchtete sie wie geplant trotz Sturm und Regen aus dem Haus ihres Onkels. Der ältliche Stallmeister hat zugestimmt mit ihr nach London durch zu brennen. Sie braucht nur zu heiraten um die Kontrolle über ihr Erbe zu erhalten, das bislang Ihr Onkel verwaltet, wahrscheinlich soll sie nach seinem Plan ihren entsetzlichen Cousin heiraten, damit das Geld in der Familie bleibt. Doch am Treffpunkt lauert ihr stattdessen Crispin auf. Er verrät ihr, dass ihr Onkel plant, sie mit ihren Cousin zu erwischen so dass sie entwürdigt ist und ihn heiraten muss. Als sie Crispin Geld anbietet um ihr zu helfen fordert er stattdessen, dass sie für ihn im Haushalt ihres Onkels spioniert, da sie in letzter Zeit in ihren politischen Diskussionen zunehmend uneins sind.

Jane findet Crispin kühl und berechnend aber auch intelligent und charmant.Sein Aussehen zieht sie an, aber gleichzeitig verabscheut sie seinen Charakter. Am vergangenen Abend ist sie ihm erstmals aufgefallen, vorher hat sie sechs Jahre lang perfekt die dumme, unaufmerksame, duldsame gespielt, aber jetzt erkennt er ihre Intelligenz und ihren unbeugsamen Willen. Sie will mit ihrem Erbe dann den Armen helfen. Hierin ist sie ganz gegensätzlich zu Crispin, der korrupt und unmoralisch ist.

Nach seinem Unglück hat sie sich als seine just Angetraute ausgegeben, um ihren Onkel zu entkommen und wird überraschenderweise von seiner Familie ganz selbstverständlich und liebevoll aufgenommen. Sie planen gemeinsam einen Ball, der Crispins plötzliche Eheschließung und anschließende Erkrankung in ein positives Licht setzen soll.

Ich liebe solche Romane, in denen die Partner zunächst sogar nicht zusammen passen oder keine gemeinsame Zukunft haben können und die Autorin es doch schafft eine glaubhafte Entwicklung zur Liebe hin zu beschreiben.

Jane entdeckt, dass er nach dem Unglück völlig verändert ist. Er geht freundlich und humorvoll mit ihr um. Doch sie denkt, das in ihm irgendwo auch noch dieser andere Crispin von früher sein muss und wieder hervor brechen wird.

Sie erkennt, dass man ihn als das schwarze Schaf der Familie sieht. Der verderbte jüngere Sohn, dessen Fehler nur die Qualitäten des Erben betonen. Sein älterer Bruder hält gar nichts von seinen politischen Machenschaften.

Meredith Duran beschreibt die Entwicklung der Gefühle nachvollziehbar und einfühlsam. Man erhält Einblicke in die menschliche Motivation und Denkweisen. Langsam entsteht eine sanfte, vorsichtige Zärtlichkeit zwischen den beiden. Man kann dem folgen, denn dieser andere Crispin ist sympathisch und überzeugend in seinen so anderen Ansichten.

Das Buch enthält viele gut durchdachte, intelligente Gespräche zwischen Jane und Crispin. Sie ist auf ihre Art eine mutige Frau, die Respekt verdient.

Dann kommt es zum letzten Drittel des Buches „A Lady’s Code of Misconduct“ zu einer spannenden Zuspitzung der Situation. Zum Schluß kommt es zum erhofften Happy End, dass mich aber damit, dass sich dann alles doch relativ einfach in Wohlgefallen auflöst, nicht ganz überzeugen konnte.

Ein ernster, vielschichtiger und tiefgründiger historischer Liebesroman im damaligen politischen Leben Englands.

4,5 von 5 Punkten
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I love author Meredith Duran! But this is just not one of my faves. It was a good read, but Crispin was just too arrogant for me to really love.
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I honestly have yet to open a book by Meredith Duran that I could stand to put away in one sitting. A Lady's Code of Misconduct was no exception. The plot line was fresh and new, and the heroine was exactly the kind I love to read about. Jane may have had her weaknesses, yet they were open and honest, and there was no overdramatic angst just for the sake of it. While she is feisty and clever, she is never too hard or difficult to empathize with.

Crispin was a man who finds himself reformed by circumstances that basically give him a second chance at the life he didn't know he wanted. His personality seems to change, yet this is made believable by the signs that this better man was always lurking underneath.

The romance sizzled and the chemistry ignited as Crispin and Jane learned to work together and coexist as man and wife. It was truly a delightful read, and I simply could not put it down. Marvelous as always! ~ George 5 Stars
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Loved the story and the characters. Fantastic plot, great suspense and the ultimate triumph of good over evil, love over hate.
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This one I liked. A lot.

Considering how many clichés it SOUNDS like it should have, this one packs quite a few surprises. It stars two really flawed, interesting, effectively sympathetic characters whose individual journeys are compelling, and their connection to each other even more so.

I found their relationship authentic, and was really REALLY rooting for them by the end. I particularly enjoyed the fact that despite her disadvantages of power and control over her own life, Jane still managed to fool/trick/outsmart the people in her life a lot. She is pretty rockin awesome.

*I received a review copy from the publisher/author via NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.*
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