Series: Scandal & Scoundrel #2
Published by Avon on August 30, 2016
Raw, Powerful Story of the Scot Who Rides to Rescue of the Scandalous Woman Who Can Save Herself
“Of course, she was the instrument of her own saving.
She was magnificent enough to save herself and the world in the balance.
If only she could save him, as well.”
FINAL DECISION: Simply awesome. A book I will read again and again, I loved this story of a man who comes to save a damsel in distress and finds a woman who ends up saving him. A story about embracing the human mistakes that we make and being worthy of love.
THE STORY: Lillian Hargrove was reputed to be the most beautiful, perfect woman in England. Perhaps for that reason, society is thrilled when it is revealed that Lillian has scandalously ruined herself by posing for a nude painting that will be exhibited in public. At this moment, Alec Stuart, who had inherited the dukedom of Warnick, unexpectedly and unwanted. Alec learned that he also had inherited a ward, Miss Hargrove. Alec comes to London to save Lillian from her own foolishness.
OPINION: I can’t speak highly enough of the beauty and power of these characters Lillian and Alec. They both are highly damaged people as the book begins. Unwanted, ignored, rejected, they both make bad decisions in their lives that cause them shame even as both Lillian and Alec assert their independence.
“Flaws saw flaws.”
Like sees like and Alec and Lillian recognize in one another in their pain and flaws. Alec recognizes Lillian first and his response to her “transgression” is more understanding than she expects. I fell in love with Alec because he doesn’t judge Lillian in the way the world does. Despite what one might expect from the storyline of this book the conflict between the characters is not about Lillian’s mistake in posing for the portrait or her sexuality.
As the story begins, Lillian seems like the stereotypical damsel in distress who is waiting for a man to come rescue her. Appearances are not truth, however. Although Alec comes to rescue Lillian in the ways of men, she neither wants nor needs to be redeemed by him.
“I am in the market for neither guardian nor savior. Indeed, if the last few years have taught me anything, it is that I would do well to save myself. Play my own guardian.”
Lillian is the heroine of her own story. But she is not immune to needing Alec. Lillian doesn’t need Alec to rescue her, but she does need him to believe in her, support her, show her an example of a decent and caring man.
Both Alec and Lillian desperately want love. It leads them into their “scandalous” activities. Alec and Lillian’s relationship allows them to accept their own failings and recognize that mistakes allow them the ability to recognize true love and the unfailing decency in one another.
What I loved about this book is that there is no magic wand, no pretending that the scandal did not happen. These characters look beyond scandal, accept the mistakes themselves and each other have made, and find decency and love.
This book is deeply emotional and completely engaged in the relationship between these characters. MacLean has a way of writing angst and pain that breaks my heart, engages my mind and makes my spirit soar when the happy ending arrives.
This book will end up on my favorite books of the year list.
WORTH MENTIONING: Fans of Sarah MacLean’s other books get some glimpses of some familiar (and perhaps unfamiliar) characters.
CONNECTED BOOKS: A SCOT IN THE DARK is the second book in the Scandal & Scoundrel series. Although there are some appearances by characters from other books, this book operates as a standalone. No prior information is necessary.
STAR RATING: I give this book 5 stars.