30 August 2016

A Scot in the Dark by Sarah MacLean (Scandal & Scoundrel #2)

Summary from Goodreads:
Lonesome Lily Turned Scandalous Siren

Miss Lillian Hargrove has lived much of her life alone in a gilded cage, longing for love and companionship. When an artist offers her pretty promises and begs her to pose for a scandalous portrait, Lily doesn't hesitate...until the lying libertine leaves her in disgrace. With the painting now public, Lily has no choice but to turn to the one man who might save her from ruin.

Highland Devil turned Halfhearted Duke

The Duke of Warnick loathes all things English, none more so than the aristocracy. It does not matter that the imposing Scotsman has inherited one of the most venerable dukedoms in Britain—he wants nothing to do with it, especially when he discovers that the unwanted title comes with a troublesome ward, one who is far too old and far too beautiful to be his problem.

Tartan Comes to Town

Warnick arrives in London with a single goal: get the chit married and see her become someone else's problem, then return to a normal, quiet life in Scotland. It's the perfect plan, until Lily declares she'll only marry for love...and the Scot finds that there is one thing in England he likes far too much...

The recent Dukes of Warnick are a particularly unlucky lot.  The title (and rapidly enlarging ducal fortune) passed through fourteen heirs in the space of two weeks before landing on the recalcitrant Scottish Brute, Alec Stuart.  When the solicitor turns up to inform Alec of his miraculous fortune, Alec shrugs him off.  So the efficient London man leaves Alec in peace for five years...until Alec's dazzlingly beautiful ward Miss Lillian Hargrove lands herself in the scandal of all scandals.

A nude painting.  Painted by a man who is not her husband.  Who is an actor.  Quell horror.

Lily has been betrayed.  Derek Hawkins (sound familiar? You'll figure out where he's appeared before.) swept her off her feet and begged her to pose nude for him.  A painting just for him.  No one would see it.  He promised and she loved him....  Lily now has ten days before the painting is exhibited on the final day of the Royal Academy Exhibition and ruins her forever.  The last thing she needs is a very surly, six-and-a-half-foot tall, riveting Scotsman in an ill-fitting suit breaking down her front door.  And then he has the effrontery to tell her what to do.

Alec, for all that he means well, goes about doing everything wrong.  He has no interest in Society, while Society regards him as something akin to a sideshow attraction.  And he hasn't the faintest idea what to do with a ward who is in her mid-twenties.  He decides that the best course of action is to get Lily married before the painting is unveiled.  When he commands Lily to attend a ball hosted by his best friend King (and King's wife Sophie, the hero and heroine of the marvelously excellent previous book in the series, The Rogue Not Taken) Lily counters him.  Not by refusing to attend, mind, but by deliberately trying to scuttle his attempt to find her a husband (no spoilers).  So begins the tug-of-war between a man and a woman who are absolutely perfect for each other but whose sizable baggage keeps getting in the way (and Alec's baggage is unique, let me tell you).

This a swoony, swoony romance with a feisty, feminist heroine at its center.  Lily claims the male gaze for her own, obsessing over Alec's kneecaps when he appears in a kilt.  She's clever and fiercely independent.  Lily's nude painting scandal is directly influenced by the contemporary problem of revenge porn and leaked sex tapes or nude photographs.  All those ton gossips pointing their fingers?  We've seen them Twitter-shaming the poor woman for having trusted her partner and posed for the pictures.  Lily takes control of her scandal in a strong, fist-raised conclusion to the book.  But for all the kick-assed-ness Lily exudes, there's a palpable sweetness in the progression of her happily-ever-after.  I cried so many happy tears.

To go with the swooniness, there are two lovable canines and guest appearances from at least one Rogue and the aforementioned King and Sophie and...the Dangerous Daughters!  That's right, Sophie's Scandalous Sisters Seleste, Seline, and Sesily (no Sera, sadly) make a significant appearance and befriend Lily.  We get to see far more of the women than we did in Sophie's book, particularly Sesily who is amazing.  We also, drum-roll, get a brief visit to the Fallen Angel!!

My wish-list for Sarah now includes:
1) a novella for Lord Stanhope, bc you KNOW that man has a history
2) a novel for Sera, because her husband needs to either die or get punched in the dick and then start appreciating her (mostly sentiment held over from the last book, but still)
3) a novel for Sesily, because that girl is amazing and she needs an amazing dude to appreciate her

A Scot in the Dark is available TODAY!!  Run out and buy it or download it from your retailer of choice!  And if you are new to Sarah, never fear, you can read this without having read any of her previous books but you'll want to hide your credit card....you might need to go on a binge. *grin*

Dear FTC: I received an ARC of this book from the publisher and OF COURSE I had this pre-ordered for my Nook.

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