Posted by: Jennifer | August 1, 2009

Mastered by Love – Stephanie Laurens

Laurens, Stephanie. Mastered by Love. (New York: Avon, 2009). ISBN – 9870061246371.

Main Characters: Royce Henry Varisey, the Duke of Wolverstone and Minerva Chesterton

Related Works: This is part of Laurens’ the Bastion Club series. Books in the series include:

  • Captain Jack’s Woman – the story of Captain Jack Hendon and Kit Cranmer (prequel)
  • The Lady Chosen – the story of Tristan Wemyss, Earl of Trentham and Miss Leonora Carling
  • A Gentleman’s Honor– the story of Anthony Blake, Viscount Torrington and Alicia Carrington
  • A Lady of His Own – the story of Charles St. Austell, Earl of Lotswithiel and Lady Penelope Selborne
  • A Fine Passion – the story of Jack, Baron Warnefleet and Lady Clarice Altwood
  • To Distraction– the story of Deverell, Viscount Paignton and Pheobe Malleson
  • Beyond Seduction – the story of Gervase Tregarth, Earl of Cowhurst and Madeline Gascoigne
  • The Edge of Desire – the story of Christian Allardyce, Marquess of Dearne and Lady Letitia Randall
  • Mastered by Love – story of Royce Varisey, the Duke of Wolverstone and Minerva Chesterton

Description from Book:

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 grand 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 facade lies a woman of smoldering sensuality, one who will fill 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.

My Thoughts:

With this story, Stephanie Laurens brings her Bastion Club series to an end. I was indeed somewhat torn between joy and sorrow at its release. On one hand, I have to admit that I have been anxiously awaiting Royce’s story for several years. On the other hand, its release marks the end of a series that I have thoroughly enjoyed. Either way, I couldn’t resist devouring this book when I finally got may hands on it this past Wednesday.

We met Dalziel, the mysterious and somewhat dangerous leader of the group of spies known as the Bastion Club, in the first book of the series, The Lady Chosen– which was published back in 2003. Throughout the series, we have learned more and more about him as his men have tried to discover his true identity. This mystery had me hooked from the beginning.

Now, Dalziel has finished with his government work, having seen to Napolean’s defeat, and is ready to resume his place in English society as Royce Varisey. But while preparing to return to his real life, his father dies, elevating Royce to the position of the Duke of Wolverstone. Royce and his father had been estranged for sixteen years. With his father’s death, Royce must take up his duties without having been able to reunite with his father.

While Royce is somewhat unprepared to take on his ducal responsibilities, he does have someone ready to guide him through he social minefield – his chatelaine, Minerva Chesterton. Minerva has been at Wolverstone for most of her life, having been taken in by Royce’s parents when her own died. She had served as chatelaine for several years and knows exactly how to guide Royce. She is extremely smart and capable in her position – and also beautiful. Royce can’t help his deep attraction for his chatelaine, even as he comes to rely upon her and her advice.

To complicate matters, the grand dames of London society start pushing  Royce towards the altar – demanding that he name his choice of bride. There is some vague hope by the prince that Royce’s lands could be returned to the crown if her were to perish. The dames believe that a quick wedding would put an end to those vague hopes.

Royce isn’t necessarily opposed to marriage. He knows his duty. But, he certainly chafes at being pressured. Meanwhile, he realizes that he can’t possibly see himself married to someone for purely dynastic reasons – even if it is a Varisey tradition. The marriages of his friends and colleagues have shown him more appealing relationship. It is Minerva that he sees fulfilling he role of his duchess, even though he realizes that she will not quickly agree with him.

Royce launches a campaign of seduction that he hopes will lead Minerva to accept the role of his wife. Because Minerva has long had deep feelings for Royce, she finds it impossible to resist his seduction. Despite this, she still tries to help him choose another as a bride. After all, she truly believes that like all Variseys, he cannot love. And, she has no desire to marry a man who will not love her.

It is always love that makes up the critical stumbling block for Laurens’ heroes and heroines. The men generally would like to pretend that they do not feel love, until forced by some dangerous or traumatic event. This is certainly true for Royce. He stubbornly believes that he cannot feel love because that is what he had been brought up to believe. It takes a threat to Minerva’s life for him to understand the depth of his own feelings.

One of my favorite aspects of Laurens’ books is that she gives us tremendous insight into her male characters. This book is told primarily from Royce’s point of view. We see so much of his emotional journey. I think this is why I am such a huge fan of her works in general and of this one in particular. I am much more drawn to the male heroes – it is the male characters that make me fall in love with a book most often. Royce Varisey has certainly captured my heart – and I was so happy to read that he and Minerva will be making appearances in Laurens’ next series.

Now, having talked about how much I adored Mastered by Love and the Bastion Club series, I do feel compelled to point out something that irks me quite a bit. Throughout this series, we learned that Dalziel was a member of the ton – one that had been banished. People certainly knew who he was, but they were forbidden from mentioning his name. Yet, the members of the Bastion Club were clueless about his identity. Several of their wives immediately recognized Dalziel, but refused to tell their husbands his name. In Mastered by Love, we see further evidence that many, many people knew his identity. So, what is my gripe???? I can’t suspend my disbelief enough to buy that none of the members of the Bastion Club ever figured out who Dalziel was. After all, they were all spies who were ranking members of the ton. I find it impossible to believe that Dalziel’s identity could have been kept hidden from them. It doesn’t sound feasible to me at all.

This gripe in no way ruined this book for me. This is something that I have found strange throughout the series – and didn’t find a great explanation here that made my buy it.

Read first July 29, 2009



  1. […] Mastered by Love – Stephanie Laurens […]

  2. just found your blog..thanks for your reviews!!!!!! love them!! keep up the good work..would always frequent your blog for the authors i look too!!..=)

  3. Thanks for the comment! I’m glad you have enjoyed my reviews.

  4. […] Mastered by Love – Stephanie Laurens […]

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