Desert Isle Keeper
Night of the Scoundrel
Happy sigh – that’s how I finished Night of the Scoundrel. Ms. Bowen’s readers have been calling for a story about the intriguing King ever since he was first introduced in her Season for Scandal series. King showed up again in Bowen’s last Devils of Dover book, A Rogue in the Night, leaving us all the more primed for his story. While I would have adored a full-length novel about King, Ms. Bowen delivers with this 133-page novella!
The book begins with King observing a woman skillfully defending herself with a sword and knife in the back alleys of London. He is intrigued; she has obviously been trained by a master sword fighter – or maybe not as she is equally adept with a knife. She is quiet, beautiful, talented, and lethal. Enigma meet enigma.
Adeline Archambault delivers justice for those abused by the powers that be. She is in London to find a priceless sapphire and return it to its rightful owner (and deliver a little justice to the thief as well). The sapphire is to be sold at one of King’s notorious art auctions. Adeline procures an invitation, finds the sapphire in King’s study, and is about to complete her mission when King steps out of the shadows and confronts her.
Too late, he felt the edge of her blade pressing against his abdomen beneath his coat…if such a thing had been possible, King would have fallen in love right there.
“That’s the third,” she murmured.
“The third assumption you’ve made. The first one was bold, the second overly simplistic, and this one potentially fatal. I never go anywhere without my weapons.” Her lips curled, and King’s thoughts scattered all over again. “You should have a care in the future,” she continued softly. “The next person to exploit an abundance of skirts may have far less…professional motivations than I.”
While King is struggling to regain his wits and control his lust for Adeline, hiss deepest enemy, John Westerleigh, the Baron Marstowe, a man he thought dead, enters King’s study. It has been almost twenty years since King saw Westerleigh, but he’d recognize him anywhere. But there was not a flicker of recognition in the older man’s eyes. With an unclear head and rage in his heart, King hires Adeline to destroy Westerleigh. What follows is a captivating unfolding of King’s history and his struggles to move on from the tragedies of his youth.
King is one of the most enigmatic characters I’ve come across in HR – a lord of London’s underworld, ruthless, seemingly without conscience, and yet a collector of fine art and endlessly knowledgeable about antiquities and myths. A man to be feared and yet a friend to some. In Adeline, Ms. Bowen has gifted King with his perfect match. Adeline understands the underworld, she understands loss, and she understands the overwhelming need for revenge. But, she is also able to see things more clearly than King and offer him a piece of his humanity that he thought long gone. Writing a match for King was a tall order and Ms. Bowen has done it with considerable aplomb.
Night of the Scoundrel is a very satisfying novella, answering all the questions readers had about King, delving deep into the mind and heart of this fascinating character, and delivering a complete and satisfying romance along the way. While short, it does manage to bring in many of the characters from the Season for Scandal series and is all the more enjoyable because of the history readers have with King in these other stories. It can be read as a stand-alone but will be more fully appreciated if you are familiar with the Season for Scandal books. Well done Ms. Bowen!