Book Review: Beyond Scandal and Desire by Lorraine Heath

Screen Shot 2018-07-29 at 4.24.07 PM.pngI  thoroughly enjoyed this book and recommend it wholeheartedly.

The book follows Mick Trewlove, a successful London businessman, in his quest to destroy the man who sired him—the Duke of Hedley who gave him away to a poor widow as a boy. Mick plans to beggar him by taking advantage of his gambling addict son, Kipwick, and seduce the Duke of Hedley’s ward, Lady Aslyn Hastings (who also happens to be Kipwick’s betrothed). However, in the process of his revenge, he falls in grows to care for Lady Aslyn; his plans start to unravel as he is forced to make the decision between revenge and love.

I avoided reading this book for as long as I possibly could: the plot seemed too similar to Sarah Maclean’s The Wicked and the Wallflower—one of my least favorite books of all time. I was worried the book would be overconsumed by angst, broodiness, and more lust than love.

That said, I’m so glad I decided to break down and purchase this book. Every scene surprised me as the book dodged trope by trope. The romantic connection existed between Mick and Lady Aslyn before they acted on it (a real shocker when it comes to historical romance). Lady Aslyn admired Mick’s success, his loyalty, and progressive views—she wasn’t just drawn to him because he was a bad boy from the wrong side of the tracks. Mick never doubted his feelings for Lady Aslyn, never went on a long self-pity fest of “I don’t deserve her,” and respected her. Furthermore, the twist at the end of the book was superb: I didn’t see it coming at all. Honestly, this book was one of the least predictable romances I’ve ever read.

The real strength of this book lies in the characters. It is hard to do a romance hero—particularly a regency one (especially since the time period was sexist as heck)—well and Lorraine does a phenomenal job with Mick. While Mick is haunted by the demons of his past, he (thank heavens) is not a brooding, angsty, high-key alcoholic hero. While he is motivated by revenge, he cares more about love and family. Also—always needed for a good romance—he was just amazing at flirting (in the words of my favorite reality TV show Love Island he had “great chat”). Yet his most appealing characteristic was his kindness: I know he will treat Lady Aslyn like a princess for the rest of their lives.

Lorraine’s secondary characters also rocked. In this book nobody was all “good” or all “bad.” Everyone was a shade of gray, having made mistakes they are desperate to atone for. I really, really, liked that about this book. It made the book feel realistic despite the absurdity of the plot: everybody was three-dimensional, complicated, and more than a little bit messy.

In conclusion, this was one of Lorraine Heath’s best books and a definite must read for any historical romance junkie.

Rating: 4/5