SCANDALOUS WOMEN OF THE TON SERIES BOOK 3
A wicked duke’s bed is no place for a lady…
Lady Merryn Fenner is on a mission to ruin the Duke of Farne. A beautiful bluestocking with a penchant for justice, Merryn has waited twelve years to satisfy her revenge against Garrick Farne. Her family name had been tarnished at his hands, her life destroyed.
For twelve years Garrick, Duke of Farne has kept the secret of what really happened on the night that he killed his best friend, Stephen Fenner, in a duel. Now Stephen’s sister is intent on discovering the truth and putting at risk all those secrets Garrick has protected.
When a disaster traps Merryn and Garrick together, white-hot desire stirs between the two sworn enemies. Merryn’s reputation is utterly compromised and she is forced to do the one thing she cannot bear; accept the scandalous marriage proposal of the man she has vowed to ruin.
In Garrick and Merryn, Ms Cornick has created two very memorable and complex characters.
Garrick is everything a hero should be – handsome, enigmatic, powerfully built, witty and sexy. However, he has one major flaw – there are rumours that, ten years ago, he killed his best friend under suspicious circumstances!
It’s clear from the start honour and duty mean everything to Garrick and the tragic events of his past have been significant in shaping the man he’s become. His strong sense of honor prevails even when it’s at odds with his own personal happiness. However much he wants to tell Merryn the truth surrounding her brother’s death, he’s can’t break the oath he took ten years ago. Should Merryn learn the truth, ‘she would be horribly disillusioned, all her memories tarnished and her life in ruins again’. My heart went out to Garrick as there’s no easy solution to his dilemma.
On discovering his father had purchased the Fenner Estates, following the death of the Earl of Fenner, he feels honour bound to return them to Merryn and her sisters. Not to salve his conscience as Merryn believes but because he’s revolted by his father’s profiteering from those past tragic events. Being a duke and looking after the estate is a ‘monstrous duty’ but one which he takes seriously. His late father’s terrible reputation – ‘the eighteenth Duke had beaten his servants and kicked his dogs, and vice versa.’ – doesn’t make the task any easier. He’s desperate to prove he’s not like his father.
No way could I believe a man with such high principles could be a cold-blooded killer. So I was delighted when the truth was finally revealed and my faith in him rewarded.
I’ve always had a soft spot for unconventional heroines and so I adore Merryn. She’s a very principled person who ‘believes in justice and fighting for what is right….‘ despite her very blinkered obsession with bringing Garrick to justice. Idolizing her brother, she shut her eyes to his true character. She also harbours a guilty secret that has coloured her view of past events. Although her failure to see that Tom Bradshaw is using her for his own nefarious ends shows a certain naïveté, this flaw makes her more human. I couldn’t help but sympathise with her feelings of guilt at desiring the man who murdered her brother.
I enjoyed seeing Merryn mature over the course of the book. She regards her sisters, Joanna and Tess, as frivolous and only interested in clothes and balls. Gradually, she sees just how much they care for her and how much she loves them. She also comes to realise that her life may have been exciting but it has been devoid of love.
Ms Cornick does an excellent job of building and sustaining the sizzling passion between Garrick and Merryn and the love scenes are very sensual.
I really warmed to Merryn’s sisters, Joanna and Tess, who revealed hidden sides to their characters in their support of Merryn when she’s facing ruin.
Ms Cornick seems to combine witty banter, exciting action, intensely passionate scenes and wonderfully descriptive narrative so perfectly. I loved Garrick’s description of his butler, Pointer, ‘fluttering around in the dark hall like a monstrous moth‘ and I could literally smell the beer fumes in the scene where Garrick and Merryn are caught up in the London Beer Flood.
VERDICT: The wonderful combination of star-crossed lovers, hidden secrets, life-threatening danger and delightful touches of humour make it an unforgettable read.
RATING : ★★★★★