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Wednesday, August 13, 2014

ARC Review: How the Scoundrel Seduces by Sabrina Jeffries

Format: .mobi (provided by publisher in exchange for an honest review)
Release Date: August 19, 2014

Lady Zoe Keane’s father is pressing her to marry a cousin she’s never met. As Lord and Lady Olivier’s only child, spirited Zoe will one day inherit the title of countess and their Yorkshire estate, the land she adores—but she wants to marry for love. Then an unsolved family mystery shatters her world: is it possible Zoe’s birth mother was actually a Romany named Drina? Desperate to know her true lineage, Zoe hires the Duke’s Men to search for the woman who will determine her destiny.

Tristan Bonnaud is the man for the job, and not because the roguish investigator cares about a spoiled aristocrat and her inheritance “problem.” To protect himself from his villainous half-brother, Tristan needs to track down his Romany horse trader friend who has information about a decade-old scandal—and this young beauty’s far-fetched case is just the excuse he needs.

But if untangling the past isn’t risky enough, the sizzling attraction drawing the scoundrel to the lady is the most dangerously seductive surprise of all.

Well now I'm in a bit of a pickle. How the Scoundrel Seduces is a contender for my favorite book out of the series...

Tristan Bonnaud has had a difficult life. The illegitimate son of a peer, Tristan was accused of theft as a young man by his half brother and had to flee England. Now he’s back as part of the Duke’s Men and investigating a potentially life altering family secret on behalf of the feisty Lady Zoe. What Lady Zoe doesn’t know is that Tristan has taken on her case in order to cover up his own investigation into a decades old scandal involving him, his family and his deceitful half brother. Not willing to be left behind, Lady Zoe insists on joining Tristan on his investigation into her birth and of course, when two strong willed people spend a lot of time together they are either going to kill each other, or fall madly in love.

I’m always excited to read a Sabrina Jeffries novel but this one in particular was a pleasure. Lady Zoe appeared briefly in the previous book but that one scene she had was enough to make me like her and she didn’t disappoint in How the Scoundrel Seduces. It’s not just the mystery she has surrounding her that makes her interesting, it’s the way she thinks and how she expresses herself. She’s a lady with a little bit of a wild child side that really captures the attention of a reader like myself.

Tristan on the other hand is a complete rascal. He taunts and teases Zoe just to hide his attraction to her, but he doesn’t count on her countering his verbal attacks with some of her own. His nonchalant attitude hides a bitter man but at the same time I couldn’t help but feel bad for him. He’s the type of character who takes his few responsibilities seriously and when he can’t keep his loved ones safe and comfortable he beats himself up over it. Poor guy! He just won’t let himself be happy because of his resentment and fear of the unknown. Though he does have a quick mind and sense of humor that appealed to me, Tristan’s defining trait is his loyalty towards those he cares about. This is completely at odds with the reputation he’s carved out for himself, which is an irresistible combination.

As a couple, I did enjoy their chemistry, not just because it’s pretty steamy but because it was mixed with a lot of bantering. These two get on each other’s nerves and they let the other know it too! With Tristan and Zoe both used to getting their way, it was inevitable that they would butt heads and at times trade insults but they never got to the point where they were intentionally cruel to one another. It was all very amusing. I do love a couple who are both strong willed, it leads to some interesting exchanges.

What I’ve noticed about The Duke’s Men series is that everyone seems to be connected in some way to each other and while Tristan and Zoe’s search takes them on long trips, eventually all roads lead to home and some rather surprising connections! It was all neatly done too, as unbelievable as the circumstances were, I still found myself saying It could happen.

While How the Scoundrel Seduces is definitely Tristan and Zoe’s story, the secondary characters were a nice balance to keep the story form become too predictable or stale. I enjoyed the addition of the gypsy characters and the glimpse into their culture and way of life. The few scenes with Dom grabbed my attention, and of course my interest. On the one hand, I can’t wait for his book but on the other, I don’t want this series to end!

Final Verdict: Each book in the series has been great but How the Scoundrel Seduces now rivals its predecessor for my favorite.

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