Thursday, January 27, 2011

Review: Pleasures of a Notorious Scoudrel

Pleasures of a Notorious Scoundrel
Lorraine Heath
Historical Romance/England/1855
London's Greatest Lovers/Book 2
Harper Collins/December 1, 2010

From the back cover ~

As the black sheep second son of an Earl, Stephen Lyons has gained a reputation in the art of seduction, but when his wicked ways result in scandal, he joins the army to redeem himself. On the battlefield, he proves courageous . . . until he is seriously wounded. Returning home to recover, he discovers he can't remember the angelic beauty who arrives at his doorstep, his babe nestled in her arms.

Mercy Dawson will risk everything to protect the son of the dashing soldier she once knew and admired. When Stephen offers to do the honorable thing, she is determined that London's most notorious gentleman will desire her and no other. But Mercy fears that what began as an innocent deception could destroy her dreams and their blossoming love if Stephen ever learns the scandalous truth . . .

They are masters of seduction, London's greatest lovers. Living for pleasure, they will give their hearts to no one . . . until love takes them by surprise.

The first book in the series, Passions of a Wicked Earl, was about the eldest of the three brothers, Westcliffe, who was cool and aloof. Now we get Stephen, the middle brother's story. Stephen is the rogue of the family and works hard at it. After reading the first book I didn't care much for Stephen and was really wanting to read Ainsley, the youngest brother's book. But it doesn't come out until July and since I like to read series in order, I went ahead and read Stephen's book. Heath made me love Stephen!

The story opens with Stephen tumbling out of bed, leaving a woman in it, and preparing to go off to war. But she isn't the only women there to see him off. As he gets caught up in the parade of soldiers marching off to war the women seem to come out of the woodwork to wish Stephen good-bye. His family is also there to see him off. His mother, who I adore. His two brothers and his sister-in-law Claire. While they might argue and disagree, you can tell these brothers love and care about each other. I liked that closeness that came through, even when they didn't wish for anyone to see it.

Fast forward and Stephen is home from the war a changed man. Not only in body but in mind. He was seriously injured, his family told he was dead. Thankfully he wasn't and is now recovering from his wounds at his family home. It is here that he meets the woman who claims to be the mother of his child. A woman he doesn't remember. You can't help but feel for Stephen, losing nearly two years of his memory. I found myself hoping there would be some miracle cure or a trigger that would bring back his memories. They are memories mostly of war and death but they are still his memories and leave him feeling less than completely without them.

The marriage between Stephen and Mercy takes place with little pomp and pagentry. Mercy and child are welcomed into the family by Stephen's mother, who I adore. She is such a wonderful change from the usual haughty, uptight mothers and mothers-in-law found in historical romances. Stephen's brother, Ainsley, the Duke, is far more reticent in his welcoming of Mercy. He isn't cruel but is cautious, with a need to know more about this woman who claims to have fathered his brother's son. In this we see why Ainsley, while he may be the youngest of the brothers, is every inch a Duke. He protects his family and is more than capable of being the head of the family.

As Stephen and Mercy go about their married lives they come to enjoy each other's company. Mercy tries to get Stephen to take an interest in his son. Stephen is hesitant, knowing nothing of babies, but he slowly gets to know his son to the delight of Mercy. I loved seeing not only Mercy and Stephen's relationship develop but also Stephen learning about and caring for his son.

Mercy's love for Stephen's son is all encompassing and she will do anything for the child. Her love for the baby might have seemed overdone but the affect of the war ran deep and this child was the one good thing to come of it. As a nurse, she had seen so much pain and death, is it any surprise that she would latch on to this innocent child and do everything in her meager power to see him safe? She was a wonderful heroine who did some truly heroic acts of bravery and self-sacrifice.

This isn't a story that I would consider a light read. It brings forth strong emotions, with Heath making her characters loose nearly everything they love before they find their Happily Ever After. I now waiting impatiently for Ainsley's story.

Rating: A

Books in this series ~

Passions of a Wicked Earl
Pleasures of a Notorious Scoundrel
Waking Up with the Duke (July 2011)


  1. I'm starting this book next. I really liked the first one. And you're right - I'm really looking forward to Ainsley's book, too.

  2. Woohoo!! I'm so glad at your grade, Leslie :)

    I think Ms Heath definitively did a great job with Stephen and his book, considering that most of us didn't really care about Stephen and ended up enjoying the book so much!!

    I'm definitively looking forward to Ainsley's book :) It'll be interesting to see his side of things :)

  3. Lori ~ I think you'll like this one too! More of Ainsley in this one. Can't wait for his book!

    Nath ~ Wasn't Stephen great? Heath blew me away with how much I ended up liking him. :)

  4. Leslie, I just finished this book and loved it! Loved Stephen and Mercy, even though I didn't think I would like Stephen after reading that first book. You're absolutely right... not a light read, but Heath did an excellent job with it. :D

    Can't wait to find out what the heck is going on with Ainsley.

  5. Hils ~ I was so pleasantly surprised at how much I like Stephen since I didn't care for him in book 1. How I wish Ainsley's book was out now!

  6. Okay, I just read Hilcia's review for the first book in this series... and I know you enjoyed the first one, too. Now a rave review for the second book?! I'm definitely picking up this series. Might just download the first book tonight! :)

    Oh wait... I just read the comments and see that both nath AND Hils read it and loved, too! I'm so excited to read these now... Thanks, ladies! :D

  7. Christine ~ I don't think I've seen any negative reviews for either books. Just be warned - after reading this one you'll be wanting Ainsley's book & it's not out until July!