Desert Isle Keeper
Duke of Scandal
The long-awaited sequel to Duke of Sin is here, and it was worth the wait.
In Paris, Lady Olivia Shea had a whirlwind courtship before wedding Lord Edmund Carlisle. He deserted her on the wedding night – pre-consummation – and absconded with most of her money. Heartbroken, but even more spitting mad, she vows to find her errant husband, get her money, an annulment, and then ruin the lying snake.
Three months later, Olivia’s search has taken her to London where she confronts Edmund, only it is not Edmund, but rather his twin brother Samson, the Duke of Durham. Olivia quickly realizes that this is not her husband – Edmund has a fatal charm while Sam is serious to the point of dourness – and the two quickly get down to business, though neither trusts the other much.
Olivia runs the House of Nivan in Paris, a parfumer to the Empress Eugenie, and Edmund’s theft has put the continuation of her business at risk. She wants Sam’s help in finding Edmund and recovering her funds. There is a huge scandal in Sam’s past, involving Edmund and a French woman. When the scandal broke, Sam was left holding the bag while Edmund fled the country and Sam hasn’t seen him in a decade. Sam hopes that Olivia will be the key to finding his errant brother. They decide to team up, returning to Paris with Sam posing as Edmund to ferret out his brother’s compatriots and gather information. This is a very dangerous prospect as both are incredibly attracted to the other, and very inconvenient if the marriage proves to be legal, making them brother and sister through marriage.
Olivia is a strong character, a self-reliant, independent woman, used to being in charge of her life, and, save for her one lapse with Edmund, has done so quite successfully. She loves her work with perfumes, designing, blending and selling fragrances. She is very successful at it and relishes her accomplishments. Her first experience with love blindsided her when Edmund came along, but her time spent with Sam shows her just how hollow and superficial were Edmund’s feelings and actions toward her, when compared to the care Sam shows her. And she realizes that what she felt for Edmund was friendship and comfort, which is a far cry from the emotions and passions Sam elicits from her.
It took a little time for me to appreciate Sam, and therefore I found it took me a while to get into the story. He is so suspicious, so very serious and fairly grim that I had a little trouble warming up to him. But, as the passion between him and Olivia grew, my liking for him grew as well. By the time they shared one of those soul-searing, life-changing, oh-my-goodness-reading-that-made-my-toes-curl kisses, I was firmly on his side. And when he realizes that he has fallen passionately and headlong into love, I was a goner. Sam is a hard nut to crack, but worth the effort.
While this is primarily a character-driven novel, there are some great twists and turns in the narration, some surprises that left me gaping and wondering how they were going to get over all the emotional hurdles put in their path. But watching Sam and Olivia move from animosity and distrust to a wary friendship and thence to a deep and ardent love is the stuff of Great Romance.