Confessions Of A Scoundrel
Remember the TV series Moonlighting? I loved it. All that witty banter and repartee between Dave and Maddie, and the the best sexual tension ever. But you can’t have a TV series on witty banter alone, so they’d add a bit of plot to move things along. Confessions Of A Scoundrel was like a book version of Moonlighting. Fabulous characters, the best sexual tension I have seen in a book so far this year, and enough pesky plot to make it interesting.
Brandon St. John is sleeping off a long night when his brothers and a few male relatives come in with a problem. The youngest St. John brother, Chase has gotten himself involved with a woman, Lady Verena Westforth, and she is not suitable. Since Brandon was asleep when the family meeting took place, he is deputized to go over and break up the relationship.
Brandon goes to see Verena, expecting to meet someone coarse and jaded, and is bowled over to find a pretty and very intelligent young woman who isn’t a bit interested in Chase. Verena is the widow of Viscount Westforth and her father-in-law has made it clear to the ton that she is not welcome in the family. Verena’s family are con artists and gamblers, and even though she defied them to marry for love, that cuts no ice with the old man. So to make ends meet, Verena gambles with the demimonde, a phrase which here means those who are on the fringes of Society (it’s not used as a synonym for prostitute).
From their first meeting, Brandon and Verena strike sparks. She is not the kind of woman with whom Brandon figured he would become involved. He is mature, a man of business who always planned on marrying a woman who was his social and financial equal, not a penniless woman on the fringes of respectability. But Verena intrigues and engages Brandon like no other woman he has met. She is forthright, witty, and unafraid to stand up to him. They banter and chaff at each other in the best romantic comedy tradition, and while their repartee is not laugh out loud, it certainly makes for some very big smiles and lots of chortles.
The plot, such as it is, involves some secret papers that are being used to blackmail Verena’s brother. Then James, Lord Humford, one of the raffish crowd who plays cards at Verena’s house, turns up dead, and it looks like Brandon’s friend Lord Wycham may be involved too. This all comes into play toward the latter part of the book, and while it is engaging enough, it took away time that I wanted to spend with Brandon and Verena.
I have to mention one of the funniest, albeit totally improbable, supporting characters ever – Verena’s “butler” Herberts. Herberts is a former thief who hasn’t quite reformed. Visitors to Verena’s home always leave with missing items, and if they don’t tip him what he considers to be the proper amount, he takes it. He speaks in a Cockney accent that is, well, you have to read the book to get the full flavor. And talk about having ideas above his station – well, there were times where I’d wonder who was the boss in the household.
I will have to go on a Karen Hawkins glom. I enjoy humorous historical romances where the characters are intelligent and witty, and this is a prime example of that. Also, there are other members of the St. John family and I know they have stories – I can hardly wait!