I’ve read and enjoyed many a Lorraine Heath book, but this latest one wasn’t all that great. It tells the tale of Alistair Mabry, Marquess of Rexton, son of a duke and a bookkeeper. He is the typical marriage shy rake, who is determined to wait for the perfect (proper) woman to come along to avoid scandal. His childhood had been rather difficult due to his parent’s unconventional marriage and he doesn’t intend to make that mistake. But then he is asked to pretend to court a young lady to increase her visibility to other suitors and this throws him into contact with her sister, the notorious Lady Tillie Landsdowne.
Tillie and her younger sister Gina, are American by birth and were sent to live in London to marry well, which Tillie did by marrying an earl. The marriage didn’t go well, and she forced a divorce by dallying with a footman. Now she is considered a scandalous fallen woman, not worthy of any respect in society. This has tainted her sister’s prospects, hence their uncle’s request of Rexton, who of course believes the gossip about Tillie. However, from the first time he meets Tillie, he is fascinated by her – she drinks whiskey! She speaks her mind! She’s beautiful! And he’s immediately lusting after her and plotting to get her into his bed. On her part, she is just as fascinated with the devilish marquess, despite her not wanting to be involved any man again. She is rather prickly and stubborn, and the two of them cross words more often than not…but it’s not long before things get intimate. She is convinced that she will never be accepted into society, and that no man can every be trusted no matter how Rexton swears to uphold his word and she intends to return to New York once Gina is wed to a suitable man. Her dalliances with Rexton are just physical…until it’s more than that. (There are a lot of dalliances to be had all over the place too!)
As this is book four in the Scandalous Gentlemen of St. James series (and obviously it’s okay for the gents to be scandalous, just not the gals), there are a lot of characters from past books that make an appearance. I’ve read those books as well and still it was confusing sometimes to keep them all straight. Tillie’s sister Gina is portrayed as rather silly, though she does grow up a bit by the end. Overall, it wasn’t the worst historical romance I’ve read, but I really didn’t connect with either Tillie or Rex to care that much about them.