Rowena’s review of The Duke & the Lady in Red (Scandalous Gentlemen of St. James #4) by Lorraine Heath.
Sparks fly in the finale of the Scandalous Gentlemen of St. James Place series, as the last wicked rogue meets his match.
When Rosalind Sharpe gains the attention of the deliciously wicked Duke of Avendale, she’s torn between her distracting attraction to the notorious rogue and the knowledge that he—rich as Croesus—is the perfect target for a deception that will put her swindling days behind her.
However, Avendale is no fool. After he discovers the tantalizing lady packing up to leave London with his coins in tow, he confronts her with a scandalous proposition: she can have all the money she requires…for a week in his bed.
Desperate for the funds, Rose agrees, but on one condition: he must never question her motives. Avendale quickly sees beneath her mask and discovers she is more than passion and pleasure—she is everything he has ever desired. But claiming her requires he unveil her secrets and lose her forever. Unless he can put his own dark past aside and risk everything for a chance at love.
Lorraine Heath has been entertaining the socks off of me with every single book in this series so I knew that I was going to enjoy this book just as much as the others and I wasn’t wrong. This is the third book in the Scandalous Gentlemen of St. James series and it follows The Duke of Avendale as he makes his way toward his happy ending. Avendale lives for pleasure, scandalous pleasure and his house is open to all kinds of iniquity so in previous books, I wondered about him. Why was he the way that he was? What happened to make him so cynical and scandalous?
Well, in this book we find out.
Avendale sees her across the crowded casino dressed in red and has decided that he wants her. She’s the first woman to hold his interest in quite some time and he’s determined to have her but she’s playing hard to get…so he’ll play.
The lady in red is Rosalind Sharpe and she’s looking for a new mark. She needs money and she’s pretty desperate for that money. She wasn’t counting on Avendale to come into her life and distract her from her plans but he did and even though she must keep her secrets, she can’t stay away from this studly Duke.
Lots of things pop off in this book and Heath does a great job of stringing the reader along. She leaves the reader in the dark enough that things are interesting and not frustrating. I liked that both Avendale and Rose had secrets and I liked stringing the clues together to find out what they were. I really liked both the hero and the heroine.
Avendale was a complex hero who suffered from a secret that he’s shared with no one. He’s kept his secret with him all these years and as the reader, you can’t help but wonder what it is. When you finally find out, it explains why he was the way that he was and if I had one gripe, it was that the secret was wrapped up quite easily and it felt a little bit explained away instead of really dealt with. He goes years and years without speaking to his mother and then all of a sudden within days, they’re back to being besties? That didn’t make sense but it didn’t really ruin the story for me. Avendale was a great hero and that surprised me because I wasn’t expecting to like him nearly as much as I did. I loved seeing him forge a bond with Harry. I adored the way that he was with Harry, the way that his and Merrick’s relationship grew over the course of the book and I really loved the way that he took care of everyone and everything. He really impressed me.
Rose was another great addition to this story. Her story was heartbreaking and admirable at the same time. The way that she took care of Harry and the sacrifices she made over the course of her life to protect Harry made my heart hurt for her. She didn’t have an easy life but the way she went down fighting made me like her all the more. She was such a great heroine and I completely saw why Avendale loved her so much.
It took me a while to read this book but that had more to do with my mood than with the story itself. The romance between Avendale and Rose was fun and sweet and even a bit sad at times. They both had secrets that they wouldn’t share with the other but I understood why they wanted to keep their secrets. I enjoyed their romance, I enjoyed getting their story, Rose’s story especially from Harry and the entire book was just good. It was a great way to end the series and I find that I’m going to miss these characters a great deal. I definitely recommend this book.
Grade: 4 out of 5
This book is available from Avon. You can purchase it here or here in e-format. This book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
I read the first book in the series, When the Duke was Wicked & loved it! I may need to reread before reading the other 2 books, just to refresh my memory. I love the covers on these books, too!