LONDON'S LAST TRUE SCOUNDREL - Christina Brooke
The Westruthers , Book 1
St. Martin's Paperbacks
When his behavior edges to the brink of scandal, his Westruther cousins, Lord Beckenham, the Viscount Lydgate, and Marquis of Steyne, force Jonathon Westruther, Earl of Davenport, to leave London to ruralize at his estate. He has been this way since he returned from the dead (as explained in A DUCHESS TO REMEMBER). He is very different from the scientist he had been before he disappeared. At least that is the plan when Steyne drugs him. Beckenham and Lydgate drag him out of town, but when Davenport comes to fighting, they dump him in a barn.
Miss Hilary deVere has just been fired from Miss Tollington's Academy for Young Ladies. She teaches young girls etiquette. It was her escape from her less than reputable family. While she is walking home it is raining, and Davenport picks her up on his borrowed horse and takes her to her home. Hilary soon realizes this is her betrothed, as arranged by their parents a long time ago. She has mourned Davenport's demise even though they never met, but knows he is as bad a scoundrel as her brothers. When Davenport realizes he knows her disreputable brothers, he joins them and their lightskirts in the front parlor. He finds it hard to believe that such a prim and proper miss as Hilary is a deVere. Unknown to either Hilary or Davenport, chemistry has begun.
Hilary is desperate to find a good husband, something she will never do unless she gets to London. When Davenport ruins her chance, he takes her to his cousin Rosamund who is married to a deVere. From their coincidental encounter and ramshackle beginning including the trip to London, more astonishing plans develop. Yet as much as Davenport wants to seduce her, he does not want his past to expose Hilary to the danger following him.
This is the first book in the Westruthers series and follows the Ministry of Marriage series. Many of the characters are from the previous series, which adds a great deal of interest, but Hilary and Jonathon's journey to love is fraught with denial laced with strong sexual attraction, problematic relatives, and issues from the past. Hilary, perhaps unrealized by her, has a strong trait for tumbling into trouble. Jonathan's good motivations have dreadful consequences. This is a very good start to the series. Author Christina Brooke tells the Earl of Beckenham's story next in THE GREATEST LOVER EVER, releasing this December, and the Marquis of Steyne's story comes out in 2014ůsure to be good reading.