Also by this author: When a Duke Loves a Woman, The Scoundrel in her Bed
Also in this series: When a Duke Loves a Woman, The Scoundrel in her Bed
Published by Avon Genres: Romance, Historical Romance
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At birth, Mick Trewlove, the illegitimate son of a duke, was handed over to a commoner. Despite his lowly upbringing, Mick has become a successful businessman, but all his wealth hasn’t satisfied his need for revenge against the man who still won’t acknowledge him. What else can Mick do but destroy the duke’s legitimate son—and woo the heir’s betrothed into his own unloving arms . . .
Orphaned and sheltered, Lady Aslyn Hastings longs for a bit of adventure. With her intended often preoccupied, Aslyn finds herself drawn to a darkly handsome entrepreneur who seems to understand her so well. Surely a lady of her station should avoid Mick Trewlove. If only he weren’t so irresistible . . .
As secrets are about to be exposed, Mick must decide if his plan for vengeance is worth risking what his heart truly desires.
BEYOND SCANDAL AND DESIRE
by Lorraine Heath
Lorraine Heath’s introduction into her new series follows one of her well-loved formulas of unconventional heroes and/or heroines who often have the danger of scandal hanging above them. Even more fascinating is that the author often explores social deficiencies of that time which serves to provide a deeper experience and understanding as to how people lived in Georgian/Regency/Victorian times.
The prologue offers a tragic view on a moment in the life of aristocracy. I was appalled but also felt an odd sense of compassion because something just didn’t sit right with me from the beginning. A baby born in sin, delivered at the door of a woman who very well could have let the child die. An aristocrat who is filled with grief for his love and raising walls so that he won’t be overwhelmed by guilt for giving the child away. These people didn’t sound horrible or callous. So I was completely captivated and could not wait to untangle the mystery.
Mick Trewlove is a bastard. He has come to terms with his status in life, yet he wants acknowledgement from the man who sired him. Being rebuffed once and then ignored only stirred his anger and calls for revenge. He is cunning, smart, wealthy and determined to use all the resources at his disposal to destroy the heir of his alleged father, the Duke of Hedley. A means to an end is Lady Aslyn, ward to the duke and soon-to-be-betrothed to his son, Kipwick. What he didn’t anticipate was the enchantment Aslyn would cast over him. It was endlessly sweet to watch him fall for her, how defenseless he was and how she became his addiction. He still wants his revenge but all of a sudden he can’t bear the thought of her falling with Kip, who had everything Mick wanted.
He’d once thought her crucial to his scheme of bringing about Hedley’s downfall. Now he feared that she might very well lead to his.
Ironic, that Mick had everything Kip wanted. And all of the time Mick is acutely aware of how unsuitable he is, how scandalous it would be for her to be associated with him.
Aslyn grew up sheltered in her guardian’s home. The duchess in particular feels extremely protective of her and there are lectures of morality in spades. There is an unspoken agreement that she will marry Kip, the man she grew up with and loves. At a not-so-chance run into Mick she is fascinated. The man who has risen above his origins calls to her but her guardians would never allow her to breathe the same air. I found it very satisfying that Aslyn showed that she had a good head on her shoulders and didn’t blame the children for being born on the wrong side of the blanket but rather casting the responsibility on their parents, despite her coddled and sheltered upbringing.
Aslyn’s growth from when she meets Mick, still under the influence of the obvious hypocrisy of two people of the ton, to when she falls in love with a bastard is remarkable. I was happy to see that she was able to shed her own status and accept Mick for the man he was.
“You’re someone’s son. What does it matter that your parents weren’t married? I don’t care how you came into the world. I only care that you’re here.
Miss Heath slowly unravels the threads of the mystery surrounding Mick’s birth. While I was pretty confident to know about his parentage I was kept in the dark for a very long time about how that fit together with him being a bastard. I commend the author for that successful twist in the story. Since that came rather late in the story, however, I felt that the end was slightly rushed.
This story is an intriguing social study of the late 19th century – baby farmers were real. It was their job to rid people of the aristocracy and those who had money of unwanted children by letting them die. It’s horrifying to what lengths people went (and still go) to keep their reputation intact.
I got a kick out of getting a glimpse of Graves from The Last Wicked Scoundrel from the author’s Scoundrels of St. James series. We are being introduced to Mick’s colorful and merry band of adopted siblings who I’m sure we will see getting their HEAs. Towards the end it is mentioned that all his siblings born in sin would be accepted into the family which I found a little bit unbelievable, given the duke’s and the duchess’ previous opinion of illegitimate children.
In my (not so humble) opinion Lorraine Heath is one of the most underrated and under-appreciated Historical Romance authors of today. Her words are poetry with the taste of old yet still very readable and enjoyable. She is one of the most reliable authors to pull my heartstrings. Romance, angst, a scandalous hero and a heroine who will grow on you make up this wonderful story that will leave you completely satisfied and will make you swoon.
All his life he’d been searching for acceptance, and here it was in the form of a woman with a tilted-up nose and crooked smile.