Title: A Lady's Lesson in Scandal
IN GRITTY, WORKING-CLASS LONDON, SHE DOES WHAT SHE MUST TO SURVIVE...
When Nell Whitby breaks into an earl's house on a midnight quest for revenge, she finds her pistol pointed at the wrong man—one handsome as sin and naked as the day he was born. Pity he's a lunatic. He thinks her a missing heiress, but more to the point, he'll help her escape the slums and right a grave injustice. Not a bad bargain. All she has to do is marry him.
A NOTORIOUS LADIES' MAN COULD TAKE HER FROM POVERTY TO OPULENCE... BUT AT WHAT PRICE?
A rake of the first order, Simon St. Maur spent his restless youth burning every bridge he crossed. When he inherits an earldom without a single penny attached to it, he sees a chance to start over—provided he can find an heiress to fund his efforts. But his wicked reputation means courtship will be difficult—until fate sends him the most notorious missing heiress in history. All he needs now is to make her into a lady and keep himself from making the only mistake that could ruin everything: falling in love...
I was very excited to start this book because I had heard wonderful things about Meredith Duran's writing in general and two of her books in particular. This one was one of those books; the other was Bound by Your Touch.
After reading this one...well, the excitement has worn off a bit.
She tells a very uneven tale. On the whole, it was a good story - beautifully written, but some parts more so than others. So definitely, I can agree that Ms. Duran is good at her job. I stayed up to read this because her writing captured me and wouldn't let me go.
Basically the story is this: Nell was stolen from her parents and twin sister by a vengeful mistress/servant when she was a child. She grew up thinking the thief was her mother and spent her life in the terrible conditions the poor of regency England suffered. As the plot progresses, she meets Simon, who's inherited her real father's earldom but none of the money. He offers to help Nell prove her identity and win her inheritance provided she marry him so he can have some of the money too. He marries her, introduces her to society, she meets her twin..... it's a very predictable story, one we've hears countless times and in any number of variations. This one is not the most original of them. Its strength is that is is rather beautifully written. It would have been an excellent story except that her characters sucked - one character in particular, and it is (you guessed it) the idiot that passed for the heroine.
I wanted to beat her. She was SUCH a snob, such a hypocrite! She went about looking down her nose at the gentry and rich people because they had no idea what it was like to be poor when she herself put on more airs than anyone in the whole damn book!
1. She looked down on servants because they had to 'serve' their masters. Ooooh that one upset me! The idea that honest work has no merit because one is a servant instead of slaving away at some workhouse.....stupid girl.
2. She protested too much! Yes we get it. You were poor. You had to scrape by. Others were not. NO, it does NOT make you better than them. In fact, I can't think of a single rich person/gentry who acted with as much gracelessness as Nell did the entire novel. She was the haughty one, the unforgiving one, the unbending one, the selfish one. S.M.H.
3. There is a scene getting towards that proves point #2 so well. Her twin sister, at first reluctant to accept this so-called twin who didn't even remember her (a perfectly rational reaction, might I add), in a fit of weakness attempts to do Nell some harm. Before it progresses, the twin repents and tries to make amends. It doesn't work, and the harm is sorta kinda done (it was a weak plot device anyway and didn't add much to the story, so whatever). This twin (Katharine), humbly comes in, with tears, remorseful, to ask for forgiveness. Guess who puts on airs. Yep. Ms. Nell-I'm-so-much-better-than-any-of-you-because-I-was-poor.
Oh I wanted to beat that idiot. She ruined what would have been a good story. Simon, the hero, is a fool. If he had any sense at all, he'd have married Katharine a long time ago before Nell even came into the picture - Lord knows she's a better human being than Nell.
Even so, I can see why people rave about Ms. Duran's work and I will definitely be looking out for more of her tales. Unless I find out that all her heroines are like this...this imbecile. Then no, no amount of good writing is enough for that.
OTHER BOOKS IN THIS SERIES: