I discovered Meredith Duran last summer and snatched up all of her previous releases as fast as a fat kid steals cupcakes. OMfreakingNOM. Duran in an incredibly talented writer, one who manages to take what could be a predictable plot line and spice it up into an enchanting masterpiece. She is one of my go-to authors for stories that truly touch your heart, those rare romance novels that actually emotionally invest you in their characters.
So you can imagine my next-to-crazy delight when I read a few months ago her latest release was due out in July. YEAH. BUDDY. I’m fairly sure the first thing I did upon waking on publication day was to turn to my iPad and sleepily buy her book.
A Lady’s Lesson in Scandal is the story of a long-lost heiress grown up in the rough east-end of London, discovered by an earl desperate to get his hands on some cash. Nell Whitby is a smart woman, a woman who’s suffered some hard knocks in her life but has never been managed to be knocked down. When she reaches the end of her rope, she gets it in to her head to kill the Earl that ruined her mother, and when she sneaks into his house and holds him up at gun point (bare as the day he was born, mind you), the conniving and handsome man manages to talk her off her ledge and take her under his wing. They strike up a deal – marriage for money and social benefits, each with full disclosure to the others’ motivations. That’s the big kicker, here. Both Nell and Simon know, for the most part, what to expect of each other when they enter into their bargain. She knows he wants her money. He knows she wants his position. All is fair in…love and…er…hmm.
I was not disappointed in Duran’s latest. A Lady’s Lesson in Scandal is something of a cross between My Fair Lady and Loretta Chase’s The Last Hellion. The rapport between our hero and heroine is biting and visceral. Nell’s transformation from gutter rat to genteel lady is not easy, and Nell never forgets (or even regrets) her roots. What really makes the difference here as well is that Simon doesn’t ask her to. In fact, he asks nothing of her that isn’t unreasonable. When their faux relationship becomes not-so faux, they each juggle their whirling emotions and expectations differently.
There are few authors that could manage to pull off the plot device of long-lost-heir and broke reformed rake. But do not doubt Ms. Duran, for she handles the task with consummate skill and talent.
Romance: 3/5 Raunch: 4/5