My rating: I’d go there again! (4/5)
Sabrina Jeffries was my gateway drug into the historical romance genre. I jumped into it after I finished my master’s degree and have never looked back. Ever since stumbling upon Jeffries’ novels, she has been one of my favourite and go-to authors in historical romance. To date, A Notorious Love is my favourite Jeffries book, but she is an author that never disappoints, and How the Scoundrel Seduces is no exception.
The latest installment in The Duke’s Men is about Tristan Bonnaud (brother to Lisette from book 1) and Zoe Keane. The pair originally met in the previous book, When the Rogue Returns and while there was no love lost there, Tristan is the only one Zoe can turn to when she needs some investigative assistance. It turns out Zoe’s parents are not her biological ones. In fact, her parents took her as their own after her mother dies in childbirth. However, this is a complicated matter as Zoe is heir to a great fortune and if anyone should learn of her true parentage she could lose control of the estate she manages when her father dies. Since Zoe’s father refuses to discuss the matter and her mother dead, Zoe is forced to turn to the Duke’s Men to track down the truth, and just which investigator should be assigned the case, Tristan Bonnaud.
Tristan initially doesn’t have a whole heck of a lot of respect for Zoe, but that’s more to do with his own experiences with the aristocracy than anything to do with Zoe herself. As they work together, Tristan starts to revise his opinion of Zoe, although this process of reexamination is not without it’s trials (this is a romance, after all).
I really enjoyed returning to this series and I really liked both the characters of Zoe and Tristan. Zoe especially was a fun heroine. She was ahead of her time because of her unique inheritance situation. This situation makes her life all the more complicated as it means she has to choose her husband with care, since he will be representing her in the House of Lords not to mention assisting her with the management of the estate when her father is gone. I think that this makes Zoe grow up fast and throughout the novel she displays a depth of maturity that I didn’t expect considering her relatively young age. I also liked the fact that Zoe dealt with these restrictions to her freedom with poise. She recognized that she had a duty because of her position, and while she does come to realize that she also needs to act for herself as well, she never forgets that she has others relying on her. I thought this was admirable and I liked this characterization.
Tristan on the other hand is the bastard son of a Viscount. He’s had to make his own way in the world since his father died and his older stepbrother refused to care for him, his mother and younger sister. As a result, Tristan’s a cautious fellow and unwilling to take a chance on love (isn’t this the case with all the best heroes?) after seeing what it had done to his mother. Of course, we know that it just takes the right young lady to make him revisit this stance on love and commitment. But what I really loved about Tristan was the fact that once he realized that he loved Zoe, he was vulnerable when it came to any decisions that she made. He wanted to be in her life, but this choice was ultimately hers. I loved how his anxiety about her impending decision as well as his own worth was conveyed; it added a layer of complexity to the novel that only made me enjoy it all the more.
How the Scoundrel Seduces was yet another fantastic romance from Sabrina Jeffries. It had flashes of humour and gave readers another great happily ever after. The only thing I’m disappointed in is that I’ll have to wait so long for Dom’s book. He popped up frequently in this one and I can’t wait to see what happens with him and Jane in the next book.
*Review copy provided by the publisher via Edelweiss.
If you liked the gypsy element to this one, try Lisa Kleypas’s Mine Till Midnight. It’s the start to her Hathaway series (that wonderful eccentric family) and also features a gypsy hero, Cam Rohan.
For another book featuring a gypsy hero, give Deanna Raybourn’s Lady Julia series a try. I think it’s best if you start at book one, but with book three, Silence on the Moor, readers are treated with a greater exploration Nicholas Brisbane‘s gypsy heritage. There’s also a touch of the paranormal.
If you liked Tristan’s “scoundrel” status, give Darcy Burke’s Scoundrel Ever After a try. Ethan is a true criminal, but like Tristan, he meets his match in a certain young lady. This one was a lot of fun, and I highly recommend it. I reviewed this one back in March.