Publisher: Pocket Star
Release Date: June 28, 2011
Source of my copy: publisher
Synopsis (from Goodreads):
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...
Nell Whitby grew up in Bethnal Green, one of the shadiest and the poorest part of London, and worked as a factory girl. With her mother very sick, Nell wrote a letter to Lord Rushden, a man who Nell suspected was her father (her being an illegitimate daughter) to ask for help. The lord never responded to her letter and her mother died. Bent on revenge and armed with a gun, Nell sneaked into Lord Rushden's home and points the gun to Simon St. Maur, the new Earl of Rushden.
The old Lord Rushden was consumed by two things when he was alive: finding one of his long lost twin daughters who was kidnapped and making Simon's life hell. He succeeded with Simon, who inherited the earldom without any money attached to it--the old earl having left all the money to his daughters, including the missing one. When Simon saw Nell, he thought his financial problems were over as the long long heiress had landed on his lap. Nell and Simon both needed the inheritance money so they decided to make a deal: Simon will help Nell be a proper lady, reintroduce her to society and prove that she was the missing heiress. To strengthen his claim, Simon decided to marry Nell knowing he can always annul the marriage if proving Nell the long lost heiress didn't work out. But as Simon and Nell spend time together, they find themselves falling in love and finally finding happiness. Unfortunately, someone did not want Nell to be found and will stop at nothing to disprove their claims... even commit murder.
A Lady's Lesson in Scandal is only my third book by Ms. Duran and it has cemented that fact that she is my go-to author for brilliantly written characters, especially the heroine. Nell was an amazing character and unlike the usual historical romance heroines out there. She was strong and tough, stubborn and she tells it like it is. The things that she said and did made me equally laugh and groan. But despite her tough attitude, she has her vulnerable side and feelings of loneliness and inferiority. Simon, too, was an interesting character with hidden vulnerabilities that was contrary to the rakish facade he shows society. The psychology of Nell and Simon's characters and trying to figure them out was great reading.
The book was set in both in Bethnal Green, the poor, working class part of London, and Mayfair, the rich part of town where the lords and ladies live and party. It was really interesting reading about the contrast between the two and the different attitudes to the people that live in the two areas. There was a scene where Nell, a factory girl, looked down on one of the maids or "girls in service" working in a lord's house asking where the maid's pride was and how could she lower herself by "slaving for her keep." The girl responded with her being able to eat and sleep better, have great comforts and not have to worry about tomorrow. It's the way Meredith Duran include scenes like these (among others) that give you a different glimpse of the period and sparks a discussion beyond the romance sets her books apart from other romances. I just love it!
Meredith Duran does not disappoint with her latest novel--it's intelligent, witty, superbly written and with great multidimensional, interesting characters. A Lady's Lesson in Scandal takes you on an emotional journey that will have you rooting for Simon and Nell's well-deserved happy ending. It's another 5 out of 5 stars read from Ms. Duran and a new favorite of mine.