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.
Lord Moreland is a very regimented man. He has specific places that he goes on specific days and he doesn’t appreciate variation in his schedule. he does this so that he'll have control over his life as we learn later in the book. So he’s a bit perturbed when he goes for some air outside his London townhouse one night and he sees his new neighbor across the street brushing her hair, in her nightgown and robe, sitting in the window where any passerby can see! He may have been perturbed but he’s also intrigued by her.
The woman, Zosia, knows exactly what she’s doing – trying to get Lord Moreland’s attention! Now that she’s got it she wants to keep it, but he doesn’t seem to be participating the way she would like. You see she is a Polish woman who is from the royal line but has been sent to London to find a husband. She is a “guest” (more like a prisoner it seems sometimes) of the King of England and must find a husband before the end of the season or she will be sent to live her life out as a nun. She is determined to find a husband who has a seat in the house of Lords so that she can use that man’s voice to fight for the plight of the Polish people. The King, however, seems to be sending her nothing but untitled men!
Moreland eventually comes around to visiting his neighbor and finds that there’s really more to her than meets the eye. You see, not only is Zosia a beautiful woman, but she’s also witty, intelligent and from all appearances accepting of his uh, quirks. Zosia is an amputee and I think because of the events in her life since that amputation she is more tolerant of some things. She’s certainly more understanding of Moreland when he reveals his desire to hurt himself. You see, Moreland is a cutter – a recovering cutter but a cutter nonetheless. He feels that no one can accept him as he is so he’s more than shocked when he reveals himself to Zosia and she’s not repulsed by his admission.
Beyond each of their personal idiosyncrasies however, there’s more going on with Zosia and the reasons that she’s in England. The King knows and though he thinks to protect her from scandal it’s Moreland who comes to the rescue.
Wow! This book was filled with the unexpected, I have to say. First of all I was impressed with Ms. Marvelle and her choice of heroines. Not only is Zosia Polish but an amputee and I knew from the start that she was going to be a very strong personality. She'd have to be with all she'd gone through in her life. Then with Moreland being a cutter – holy mack! She really wasn’t afraid to go there and as a reader I have say I greatly appreciated it.
Zosia and Moreland really were great together. I truly loved their relationship until matters started getting sticky and Moreland knew that the plan he had made to get Zosia to safety wasn’t going to work. At that point I felt that he gave in too quickly but I guess we wouldn’t have had the ending we did if he hadn’t! lol And I did like the ending.
Oh! And if you’ve been reading the whole series you’ve been reading the little advice bits from the How to Avoid a Scandal book that plays a role in each of the heroine's lives. Well you get quite a surprising reveal in this book about that little advice manual and it’s quite wonderful – humorous too!
Overall I really liked the book – and have liked this whole series. Delilah Marvelle hasn’t been afraid to touch upon some subjects that I can’t remember reading about in historical romance novels before – sex addiction, a type of sexual slavery, cutting and amputation – and I’ve certainly appreciated her originality in the stories. I’ll definitely be reading more from Ms. Marvelle in the future.
Rating: 4.25 out of 5