The Darkest Knight

The Duke in Disguise

His Bride

His Scandal

The Lord Next Door

My Lady's Guardian

No Ordinary Groom

The Viscount in Her Bedroom

Never Trust a Scoundrel
By: Gayle Callen†
(Avon Books, $6.99, R ) ISBN 978-0-06-123505-4
Grace Branbury has been holding her family together since her fatherís death when she was just a child.† Her gambling addicted mother was never able to stay away from the lure of the tables for long and as a result Grace was left to watch over her younger brother Edward and run their home and land.† She had been managing quite well until her mother did the unforgivable, she lost the deed to both their home in the country as well as the townhouse in London, in a card game.† †

When Grace learns what has happened she quickly leaves home and travels to London to warn her brother of their motherís betrayal.† On her arrival at the London townhouse, she realizes that her brother has followed their mother into the world of gambling and loss.† The house is empty of servants and her brother had sold everything of value to pay off his debts.† The only room that had not been disturbed was her own.† †

As Grace is coming to terms with what her brother has done, she hears someone enter the home and thinking it is Edward, rushes downstairs to confront him. To her surprise it is not her brother but a man she does not know.† After accusing him of entering the house uninvited, Daniel Throckmorten calmly tells her that he is the owner of the home and that not only did he win both houses, but also her fatherís antique violin that was to be hers and the right to court her.† Grace, of course, is horrified at the depths to which her mother had fallen.† †

It is at this point that the book begins to become annoying.† Graceís immediate response is to try to find a way to provide her brother, Daniel, with a source of income.† She does not want him to have to work since he is a gentleman and feels that she must take care of him, even though he put himself in the position he is in.† It is understandable that she would feel some concern for him.† However, even though he was not personally responsible for the loss of the houses, he has done absolutely nothing to help Grace in the running of their farm and continues to spend money they do not have.† In spite of this, she steps in and is willing to risk her reputation to try to save him. †

After Daniel announces that he has no need for a wife but is quite willing to take a mistress, Grace makes a bet with him.† She will allow him eight days in which he will have the opportunity to seduce her, and if he does not win then he will return her fatherís violin.† Grace is hoping that after selling the violin she will have enough money to buy a new townhouse for herself and her brother.†

Once the challenge begins, the story picks up and becomes interesting.† While you want Grace to give in to Daniel, you know that she cannot simply give into her desires because of the burden that she has taken upon herself. Gayle Callen does a wonderful job in tugging at the readerís heartstrings.† She has created enjoyable characters that grow as the story progresses, and that makes the ending that much more fulfilling.† †

--Jessica McGilvray

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