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Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Review: Beyond Scandal and Desire by Lorraine Heath

Aww man I wasn’t expecting that one twist at the end! Lorraine Heath’s newest novel had me up late reading and falling in love with a cast of characters I hope we’ll see more of! And the cover is so gorgeous! I love blue covers!

Format: .mobi (A copy of this book was provided by the publisher via Edelweiss for the purpose of an honest review. )
Publisher: Avon Books
Release Date: January 30, 2018

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.

What’s it About? Despite being handed over to a common woman, Mick Trewlove has risen above his status to become a rich and successful businessman, yet in his eyes there’s still one more thing he hasn’t accomplished: Revenge against the duke that fathered him then abandoned him to an unknown fate. Mick devises a plan to ruin the duke’s legitimate son, the earl of Kipling. And for the final blow, Mick plans on stealing Kip’s fiancée, Lady Aslyn Hastings away from him. Lady Aslyn grew up the sheltered ward of Kip’s parents and it was always expected that she would marry their son. However, when she meets Mick, she’s immediately drawn to him and as she gets to know him she finds that he understands her more than she thought anyone would. When the truth finally comes out, Mick has to decide what he wants more, revenge or Aslyn.

Overall reaction to the story? I ADORE a good revenge romance and Beyond Scandal and Desire is exactly that. I love that moment when the hero, so hell bent on revenge for whatever reason ends up head over heels in love and is desperate to keep the woman he’s fallen in love with. As an author, Lorraine Heath instinctively knows how to grab and hold an audience’s attention. She has such a passionate way of telling a story with equal parts desire, longing, and reality. Beyond Scandal and Desire brought to light both the good but mostly awful practice of baby farming which was one of the ways people disposed of their illegitimate or unwanted offspring. The fact that Heath could build a romance like Beyond Scandal and Desire around a tough subject like that just wowed the pants off of me.

Describe the hero in five words: Determined. Intelligent. Caring. Indulgent. Encouraging.
Did you like him? Oh yeah!
Why? On the surface Mick seems like a one track minded brute, a typical bastard who wants what he feels is owed to him but within a chapter or two the real Mick quickly shows up and that guy is worth falling in love with. I loved the way he treated his real family with kindness and gave them everything they never had when he was younger. He indulged his sisters with their unconventional wishes but at the same time he guarded them fiercely. I loved how accepting he was of Aslyn’s wish for adventure and how he encouraged her to just be herself no matter what. Mick was successful because he worked so hard and didn’t step on anyone to get there, it was all him and he turned around and helped those who were like him when he was a kid. You have to love that about him.

Describe the heroine in five words: Smart. Compassionate. Nurturing. Loyal. Rational.
Did you like her? Absolutely.
Why? Admittedly I was nervous about Aslyn, she grew up so sheltered that I was afraid she’d be a big bore because she was so innocent but she wasn’t at all. She was sheltered, naïve, and ignorant of the real world outside of her pretty gowns, social standing, and lavish meals but she wasn’t stupidly ignorant which would have been a big “no” for me. In fact, Aslyn didn’t take long to start questioning the long held beliefs of her class, her guardians, or even her own personal beliefs and I loved that! She was a thinker, and a rebel waiting to come out. Her growth was the most interesting in Beyond Scandal and Desire, she went from a typical society lady to a saucy temptress who voiced her opinions and her intentions without fear. I loved that she wasn’t prone to hysterics when she was in a tough spot, she was calm, logical, and strong.

Let’s talk about the romance: From the start Mick and Aslyn had an electric chemistry that was desire on his part and curiosity on hers. From there, Mick orchestrated “random” encounters, secret outings, and revealing conversations that allowed these two to move past the lust and infatuation stage and onto something more real and worth fighting for. As a couple Mick and Aslyn complimented each other so well, he was used to caring only for the people like him and his family but Aslyn showed him that not all aristocrats were the same and that there was more to life than revenge. Mick showed Aslyn that with the right people she could be herself and that no matter what, she should always do and say what she felt. What made them so special though was how Lorraine Heath took the time to build their emotional relationship before she moved forward with their physical one. I felt that gave the moment Aslyn finds out the truth more of an impact with Mick because at that point they were already so involved with one another.

     She held up a hand. “No, no, no. The trousers go.”
     He held her gaze. “You’ve never seen a man when he’s aroused. Let me ease you into it.”
      “We’re going to come to this bed as equals.”
     He gave a brusque nod. “As you wish.”

How about that supporting cast? Mick has a delightful family made up of bastards, each with their own personalities and conflicts. Any of them would make an exciting lead character but I was fascinated by his sister Gillian whom his mother dressed as a boy when she was a child in order to protect her. As an adult Gilly hasn’t lost her fondness for male clothing and Mick indulged her with a tavern to run which she does splendidly. She really grabbed my attention because I want to know why she shuns everything her younger sister Fancy embraces. I want to know if Gilly is really as tough as she seems (I hope so). But in truth all of Mick’s siblings are worthy of their own stories, as is Kip, Aslyn’s fiancée. I’d like him to redeem himself and find someone to love. He wasn’t bad, just incredibly selfish and narrow minded.

Click It or Skip It? Click It. Lorraine Heath’s first book in the Sins for all Seasons is a real winner and if Mick’s story is anything to go by, the rest of the series is going to be a real treat.

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