Saturday, January 29, 2011

Review: The Perfect Scandal by Delilah Marvelle

If there is anything Tristan Adam Hargrove, fourth Marquis of Moreland, has learned to avoid, it’s scandal. For the dark and dashing lord is not only an honorable gentleman who would never seduce a woman for his own gain, he is also the author of How to Avoid a Scandal, the infamous red book that has swept like wildfire through the better part of London society.

When a raven-haired beauty arrives as his new neighbor, he knows better than to succumb to the desire he feels. He knows little about her—only that she is high born, a protégé of the Crown and completely unsuitable for the base passions he hides from the world. If only he had never glimpsed the vulnerable beauty one fateful night. If only her lips were not so ravishingly red. If only it were not already too late to save her and himself from the untamed passion he is about to unleash in the name of love.

Delilah Marvelle wraps up her Scandal trilogy with a third story involving dashing men with unusual sexual proclivities and the women who love them with The Perfect Scandal, a daunting romance between a complicated man and a passionate woman. This may be my favorite of the trio; Tristan and Zosia complement each other very well and the subject matter, as with the first two books, is handled in a compassionate manner.

Tristan has some dark secrets, aspects of himself he is ashamed of and terrified of sharing with anyone. He has isolated himself, a masterful trick for a man living in the bustling city of London as well as being one of the most well-known members of the ton. His grandmother tries to run his life and choose the woman he'll marry; his parents died when he was young in a sort of double suicide after his mother's long battle with madness and depression and she raised him after the fact. After he meets the unconventional Zosia, Tristan realizes that he has a long way to go before he can love her as she deserves.

Zosia is from Poland. She's a half-Russian countess from a family who perished in a tragic fire that caused her to lose part of one of her legs, Zosia is in hiding from the hated Russian aristocracy who wish to marry her into their ranks. Marrying an englishman will give her even more protection from Russia and King George himself has promised to find her a suitable husband. Then, she meets Tristan, her next door neighbor, and decides that he is the one for her, even if it takes some convincing on her part.

As I mentioned, Tristan and Zosia may be my favorite of the three couples in this series. Their romance was (as always) a bit naughty but they both are giving people who want the best for each other. I liked how much inner strength Zosia had and how unconcerned she was for propriety; she would more or less holler at Tristan out her bedroom window and seeing him get so disturbed by her doing this was amusing. Tristan, as the writer of that infamous book about scandals, is the essence of proper. It was a relief to see him finally, shall we say, let his hair down.

Delilah Marvelle has greatly impressed this reader with this trilogy. Not many historical romance (or otherwise) writers have the deft hand she possesses when it comes to sensitive subjects (rape, sexual addition, cutting, bondage). I will definitely read more books by this author in the future.

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