(Scandalous Gentlemen of St. James, #3)
Genre: Historical Romance (Victorian)
Sparks fly in the finale of the Scandalous Gentlemen of St. James Place series, as the last wicked rogue meets his match.
When Rosalind Sharpe gains the attention of the deliciously wicked Duke of Avendale, she’s torn between her distracting attraction to the notorious rogue and the knowledge that he—rich as Croesus—is the perfect target for a deception that will put her swindling days behind her.
However, Avendale is no fool. After he discovers the tantalizing lady packing up to leave London with his coins in tow, he confronts her with a scandalous proposition: she can have all the money she requires…for a week in his bed.
Desperate for the funds, Rose agrees, but on one condition: he must never question her motives. Avendale quickly sees beneath her mask and discovers she is more than passion and pleasure—she is everything he has ever desired. But claiming her requires he unveil her secrets and lose her forever. Unless he can put his own dark past aside and risk everything for a chance at love.
THIS BOOK WAS JUST AMAZING! Lorraine Heath weaves a beautiful, deeply emotional and moving story that is both heart-breaking and heart-warming.
I love how both Avendale and Rose are such multi-layered characters… far more than they first appear. Avendale seems to be a typical rake, indulging in a life of drinking, women and gambling, caring for nothing except his own personal needs, while Rose is a con-artist fleecing wealthy noblemen. But they each have secrets that have shaped them into the people they have become.
At the age of seventeen Rose ran away from an abusive father taking her younger brother Harry with her. She was forced to do whatever was necessary to support them and her small extended “family”. Avendale had chosen to bury his dark secret beneath a life of debauchery rather than face it head on. It has left him very much a loner, afraid of becoming emotionally involved.
I love how Ms Heath takes the time to build the romance between them showing the gradual changes in their relationship and the love growing. Here are some of my favourite moments.
It had been building between them from the moment she felt his gaze on her that first night, from the first word, the first assessing glance, the first touch.
Then all thoughts fled her mind as he slowly stroked a blunt-tipped finger along the inside of her upper arm, above the glove. Down. Up once more.
He pressed a kiss to the top of her head. “I’m not the caring sort so I’m at a loss here, Rose. Tell me what I can do to make it better.”
Within her, he ignited flames that began at the tips of her toes and rose ever upward.
Strange how, looking at her now, he experienced a flash of contentment, surrounded by this unusual assortment of people.
If Avendale and Rose are the heart of the book then Rose’s brother Harry is surely the soul. He totally captured my heart and his story is so poignant and heart-rending that I was reduced to floods of tears. Every time I think of the book he is writing, it brings a huge lump to my throat. It’s wonderful to see the genuine friendship that develops between Harry and Avendale and the scenes they share are some of my favourites. They also reveal so much about Avendale that he has kept hidden…his compassion, his caring nature and his generosity of spirit. I love how he gives Harry the opportunity to have so many amazing experiences. It was easy to fall in love with this Avendale. I also understood the driving force behind Rose’s actions…her overwhelming love for her brother. For this reason, I couldn’t condemn her even though her actions were morally wrong. After all, she only conned wealthy men who could well afford it!
I must mention Merrick, his wife Sally and Joseph, Rose’s unusual little band of servants and her stalwart supporters who add richness to the story.
In the Epilogue, the final entry in Avendale’s journal is both beautiful and romantic, but most moving are the last words which are from Harry’s book.
How I imagine Avendale –
How I imagine Rose –
My Verdict: This is such a beautifully crafted and emotionally satisfying love story which really touches the heart. A MUST READ!
REVIEW RATING: STELLAR 5/5 STARS
SENSUALITY RATING: HOT
Read June 2015