Book Review: Beyond Scandal and Desire by Lorraine Heath
I have never experienced reading a Lorraine Heath book. Oh sure, I have one in my TBR pile, but Beyond Scandal and Desire is my first read. I was pleasantly surprised, especially since I'm not a big fan of the revenge plot. This story begins Ms. Heath's newest series, Sins for All Seasons. I'm guessing this series will revolve around a group of "siblings" who were abandoned as babies to a woman named Ettie Trewlove. There are two women, Gillian and Fancy, and four men, Aiden, Finn, Mick and Ben/Beast. Beast is the one with the requisite scar. None of them are related except for Finn and Aiden, however, they consider themselves to be family. Even though the blood relationship between the siblings is weak, there is nonetheless a sibling bond between all of them. They grew up in the dredges of London and their loyalty to each other is something that cannot be denied. They are also very devoted to the woman who took them in, Ettie. She is the woman they look on as their mother. She has their love and respect.
Mick Trewlove is seeking revenge on the man who abandoned him when he was a baby. He knows who the man is -- the Duke of Hedley. The Duke has a son, Kip, and is also guardian to Lady Aslyn. Lady Aslyn's parents were killed when she was a young child and she has grown up in the Duke's household. She has also grown up very sheltered in their household. She knows that they love her and she loves them in return. She has a great affection for Kip and expects that someday she and Kip will marry. Everyone just kind of expects it. Aslyn is comfortable with her situation. Oh sure, sometimes she feels as if she's missing something, but she hasn't found the need to find out what that missing something is. Then Mick Trewlove crosses her path.
Mick Trewlove does not cross Lady Aslyn's path by accident. He has made up his mind that ruining Kip through Lady Aslyn is the perfect way to get his revenge on Hedley. So, with the help of his spunky sister, Fancy, he meets the two one evening on an outing. It wasn't long before I found myself becoming absorbed by the story.
What I found so fascinating was that this was more than just a romance story. All the secondary characters were well-rounded, they are part of the story of Mick and Aslyn and I was never distracted by their presence. I liked Mick a lot. Sure he wanted to get revenge, but it wasn't long after he meet Aslyn that he began to struggle with his idea of revenge. He finds himself drawn to Aslyn and not too much time passes before he's running into problems with his grand revenge plan and fighting his need for Aslyn.
Aslyn is almost too good to be true. She isn't class conscious at all. She has no problem with Mick's family and is fascinated with how Mick has made his way up from the dregs of the London streets. I was worried for a while that she wouldn't stand up for herself when it came to her engagement with Kip. However, almost from the moment she becomes engaged to her childhood friend, she starts to question the wisdom of their engagement. She recognizes that there isn't any spark between the two of them. When she finds out that Kip is addicted to gambling, she is up front with Kip and tells him where he can get off.
While I enjoyed the romance between Aslyn and Mick very much, I was equally fascinated with Kip, Hedley, and Hedley's wife. All three of these secondary characters had enormous problems, which can be a big distraction to some stories. In this case, the secondary plotlines were given just the right amount of time in the story. They added to the overall plotline instead of detracting from it. I found all of these secondary characters very intriguing.
Bottom-line. I loved this story. It was a full, robust tale of more than just romance. It was emotionally satisfying and I can hardly wait for the next in the series. I was pretty impressed with Lorraine Heath's Beyond Scandal and Desire.
Kay is an avid reader of historical romance books, maybe with a little trip into paranormal land and an occasional journey into mystery world.