How to Marry a Duke

 
How to Seduce a Scoundrel
by Vicky Dreiling
(Grand Central, $7.99, PG-13) 978-0-446-56538-7
*****
Vicky Dreiling has written a very enchanting story in How to Seduce a Scoundrel. This historical romance is sure to please any reader who is a fan of the genre.

Marc Darcett, Earl of Hawkfield, is a rake like no other. He is proud of his bachelorhood and does not apologize for his well-known habits with women. His best friend and partner in crime, Tristan, Duke of Selbourne, married a year ago and society now expects Marc (aka Hawk) to follow suit.

Hawk has arrived at his mother’s house to visit with his friend and is pleased to learn that Lady Julianne, Tristan’s sister, is also in attendance. Julianne will be staying with Hawk’s mother during the season so that Tristan can go back to the country to be with his pregnant wife. Julianne has been in Hawk’s life since she was a little girl and they always have fun together, like they are siblings. But when Hawk now sees Julianne in his mother’s drawing room, he is stunned at how much she has changed over the last year.

Hawk’s grandmother has sent a note to the family that she is ailing. Even though this is typical and he suspects she is crying wolf, his mother and sisters insist that they must go to her. The conundrum now is what to do with Julianne. Tristan needs to get back home, but her sponsor, Hawk’s mother, has now announced her impeding departure.

Hawk’s Aunt Hester steps up and insists on sponsoring Julianne. Hester has been married four times and her personality is not one that most young impressionable girls should be influenced by. Tristan accepts the plan, but only if Hawk will act as Julianne’s guardian. It is the last thing Hawk wants to do this season, but he agrees as a favor to his best friend.

Julianne has been in love with Hawk since her come-out party four years ago. She has been dreaming of the moment Hawk realizes his love for her and proposes. At the first ball they attend, Julianne is ecstatic when Hawk asks her to dance. They definitely have a moment during the waltz, but when onlookers start speculating more than friendship, Hawk is quick to announce Julianne is like a sister.

Julianne is crushed and heart-broken. She fears her dreams will never come true and despises men for the power they have over women. Hester tries to comfort Julianne and gives her advice on how to handle a rake like Hawk. Julianne likes the advice so much that she feels that if ladies in society knew how to catch a man, the power men have over them can be diminished. Hester continues to give Julianne advice and Julianne sets out to author a pamphlet that will be sure to help woman catch their man and Julianne may just catch her man in the process.

How to Seduce a Scoundrel is a fun and witty tale between two very strong characters. Both Julianne and Hawk have strong personalities and when they clash, it produces very entertaining scenes.

The focus of the story is the characters and the plot surrounding the pamphlet is certainly comical and keeps the story flowing. Hawk has an underlying past that has led him to his scoundrel ways and it’s a gratifying story to journey with him on his way to reform. Vicky Dreiling has done an excellent job telling a character driven story, but has kept it light-hearted enough to make it fun.

Many romance novels give the reader the HEA they’ve been waiting for in the last 1-2 pages of the story. While that’s always satisfying, I’m often left wondering – “well, what now?” What I like about this story is that the expected HEA is given a few chapters before the end, giving the reader some time with the characters after their declaration of love.

How to Seduce a Scoundrel is book two in Vicky Dreiling’s series. Book one, How to Marry a Duke, tells Tristan’s story, but Tristan is a minor enough character in book two that it can be read as a stand-alone book. Book three, How to Ravish a Rake, will follow one of Julianne’s friends we get to know in book two and Hawk’s brother who is very briefly introduced.

I enjoyed How to Seduce a Scoundrel and have given it 5 hearts. I’m eager to read book one now and will look forward to book three when it is released. I definitely recommend this one to any romance novel fan.

--Nichole Howell


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