The novels in Stephanie Laurens' “Bastion Club” series have generally been good reads, and Mastered by Love is no different. Focusing on the spymaster Dalziel, it follows his first few months as the new Duke of Wolverstone following the unexpected death of his father. Estranged for sixteen years, Dalziel/Royce regrets that he didn't have a chance to repair matters with his father, especially as his work as a spymaster is finished and he would shortly have been returning home.
When Royce returns to Wolverstone, he finds everything ably managed by his chatelaine, Minerva Chesterton. He remembers Minerva as a young girl when he left, one who followed him around; she has grown up rather considerably in the intervening sixteen years and runs his home quite capably. When society requires Royce to marry, he is given a list of possible brides. However, he quickly realizes that Miranda is the woman for him - but will he be able to persuade her?
Particularly effective here is how Laurens describes Royce taking up the mantle of duke and learning how his estate works, relating with his tenants and carrying out the daily business of a duke. His relationship with Minerva is believable, if occasionally requiring a few stretches of imagination.
What doesn't work is the sub-plot of the baddie, the final traitor whom Royce has been hunting. Since little space is devoted to this aspect of the plot, it feels rushed, as if it were included just to create some kind of dramatic tension at the end. Still, overall this is a good enough read, with some nods toward historicity even if the behavior of some characters feels a little unlikely.