The first novel in the Scandalous Brides series, published October 4th, 2011.
All of London is abuzz with the return of the utterly alluring, recently widowed Diane Benchley. Will she remarry? What will she do with her late husband's fortune? Society is shocked by her announcement - at the Grand Ball, of all places! - that she plans to open an exclusive gentleman's gaming club in the family mansion. But no one is more stunned than the Marquis of Haybury, Oliver Warren.
Years ago, Oliver and Diane shared a private indiscretion. Now Diane threatens to reveal Oliver's most ungentlemanly secrets, unless he agrees to help her. A notorious gambler - and rake - Oliver is overqualified to educate Diane in the ways and means of running her establishment. But striking a deal with Diane might just be the biggest risk Oliver has ever taken. This time, the only thing he has to lose is his heart.
Two years ago, Lady Diane Benchley, Countess of Cameron, was left a widow and penniless when her husband died, after gambling away everything he had owned, and more. She was only 22, but totally disillusioned in men, and love in general. Then an affair with the young and equally poor Oliver Warren gave her some hope, was he her reward in love after suffering for four years in a loveless marriage, scraping day after day? But after two weeks, he left her, running back to London, with his tail between his legs.
But now Diane and her best friend Jenny are in London, determined to open up a gentleman’s gaming club, and taking advantage of the gambling addiction all the gentleman seem to have. Gain something from it, instead of loosing. Unfortunately, the gentleman who would have backed up the club financially, has died, leaving them only with option number two: Oliver Warren, the new and very rich Marquess of Haymore. Diane has something she can blackmail him with. She only wants his money, and certainly not his opinion or ideas, as they have been planning every detail for the last two years.
Oliver is not too pleased that Diane is back in his life, and he hates being backed in a corner. But for now, he will play along, but in the end, he will win the game, and he will certainly not leave the table until the game is finished. He never did forget her, and he will seize this second chance. But he could not have guessed how devastated and heartbroken he left Diane two years ago, and it will take a great deal for her to trust him again.
And so, they work together to open up the latest and best gaming club in London, with Diane only asking for his advice when she needs it, and dismissing him when she has no use for him. It is a scandal of course, a lady opening a gambling club, and employing only young females as croupiers and waiters and other staff! But Diane certainly has not the intention to start a brothel, what her ladies do on their own time is their call, but they are to be left alone while working for her. And the gentleman who cannot obey her rules, will swiftly find himself outside the club.
Slowly, Oliver gains some ground with Diane. First by bribing her when she needs more money for the club than the first agreed upon sum (which is a loan she will repay!), and spending some time together outdoors. And then by wagering a bit with her, for her time. But how far will he go this time? Until she is out of his system? Or will he wager his heart?
But not everything goes well of course. There is the current Lord Cameron, Diane’s former brother-in-law, who doesn’t want to stop bothering her. Adam House should have been his, no matter that Diane would have no place to live in otherwise. He does not believe his brother left her the house. And now he wants it, and the gaming club as well. So how is she to handle this nuisance?
O wow, what a book! You can see me raving about it on Twitter! I was blown away from the very first chapter, till the end. I was dreading that it could not stay this good, but I was wrong. This book is awesome, and perhaps the best historical romance novel I have ever read. So, buy it, read it, tell me what you think of it!
I absolutely loved everything about it. Diane is such a great and strong character. She knows exactly what she wants, and she goes for it. Of course she has her friend to help her and back her up, and I do believe Jenny (Genevieve) is some scary lady. Diane is determined to make her club work, and to earn a good living for her and her employees because of it. She knows she cannot trust Oliver, but she does make use of him when needed. Even though she hates asking for his help or advice, she knows he is the best option. Diane doesn’t hesitate to do what has to be done, no matter how hard.
And then there is Oliver, ofcourse he is handsome and rich, and at first he is so not happy by being blackmailed. He is still scared by his feelings for Diane, but he is getting used to it, and then there is that hot attraction between them. And slowly, he makes up his mind. He wants to help her, to protect her, but she doesn’t want him to. Until her obnoxious brother in law gives him the chance.
I love the humor in this book, and as always, Suzanne Enoch’s writing style. It is fluent, always easy to read, and I did not want to put it down. I even told my boyfriend I was not going to cook dinner, as my book was so great. And he was fine with that, and stayed in town to eat something on the road (he is a cabdriver).
The story is original in my opinion, and the execution of it is just great. Two strong characters, their relationship is building slowly, the trust is coming back in Diane’s heart, and the few lovescenes are very good as well.
I loved it when she shot him because ...
So many good things in this book, and I want to rave some more, but I also don’t want to spoil anything for you. But I do want to encourage you all to read the book. I have already ordered my best friend to come over Sunday evening to borrow it and read it asap, which she has agreed to.
Okay, my opinion on the title: totally sucks. You would expect some young tonnish misses going after a rake to marry. Not the case here. The cover: totally wrong also. Diane almost only wears black. Sexy black. And certainly never white.
So, my grade. I am not going to give it a 10, I am giving it:
Yes, it is that good.