Billionaires Prefer Blondes

By Love Undone

Don't Look Down

An Invitation to Sin

London's Perfect Scoundrel

A Matter of Scandal

Meet Me at Midnight

The Rake

Reforming a Rake

Sins of a Duke
Taming Rafe

Always A Scoundrel
by Suzanne Enoch
(Avon, $7.99, PG-13) ISBN 978-006-145675-6
If you have been reading the Notorious Gentlemen series, then you will find Always A Scoundrel to be a perfect ending.  If you have not, like me, you will find this a delightful stand-alone novel, one that makes you want to go find the other two entries in the series.

Lord Bramwell Johns is the black sheep second son of a duke.  His father, Duke Levonzy, had told Bram that he was in reality a second thought and his only duty was to stand ready in case something happened to the heir.  Now that Bram’s brother August has had a son, the Duke has informed him he has little use for Bram. Bram, being young and out of Oxford when this was told to him, became determined to get noticed.  So he joined up with King Gore, the Marquis of Cosgrove, who made his fortunes off the misfortunes of others and who stood on the fringe of society because of it. 

He took Bram under his wing and taught him all he knew about debauchery.  Luckily for Bram, he was forced into the service due to one peccadillo and was befriended by two other nobles – Phineas Bromley and Waring Sullivan.  The three became fast friends and in the other two stories of the series these two found love.  Bram played a part in each, showing that he did have a heart and at times, could be noble.  But basically Bram knew himself to be self-centered and out to thumb his nose at his father. 

One way he did that was by burglarizing the homes of his father’s friends and donating his cache to a church serving the poor.  On one such trip, to the home of Lord Abernathy, he discovers that Cosgrove is about to pluck one more family into ruin. James, the heir, is trying to emulate the rakes of society and has gotten in deep with Cosgrove. He now owes him ten thousand pounds, a sum that neither father nor son can come up with.  So Cosgrove agrees to eliminate the debt in exchange for the hand of Rosamunde, the daughter.  In truth, he plans to humiliate her and the family for fun by marrying her, flaunting his nefarious activities and keeping young James in his debt.  This is just another of Cosgrove’s unsavory games.

Bram finds Rose to be interesting when he meets her.  She is rather unremarkable in looks but she seems to have a keen mind.  He overhears her protests yet detects the strong loyalty to her family, a loyalty he doesn’t understand but envies.  He decides to help her. Abernathy convinces Cosgrove to give them a month before the engagement will be announced, giving Rose and Bram exactly that much time to either find a way to pay off the debt or to find an escape route to get Rose out of London.  Rose agrees when she discovers just how rude and debauched Cosgrove is…he threatens her and actually shares his plans for humiliating her.

Needless to say, Rose and Bram fall in love. But the falling comes slowly, as first they learn to understand each other and to see beyond the public personas. Rose is smart and has been the backbone of her family for a long time. Bram begins to see how even though he has participated in some of Cosgrove’s activities, he does have a heart and never crossed the line into pure evil. 

Their sexual interactions are hot, yet filled with emotional warmth as well.  Rose is a great heroine, being smart and sassy but open to admitting when she is over her head.  And of course, her loyalty shifts to Bram, an emotion he craves even as he revels in her trust.  Bram is one of those rakes that admits his errors and is determined to be a changed man, even if it means putting his pride aside for the good of his love.

Enoch has written a masterful story and one that resonates with the reader throughout the pages.  It was hard to put down and very easy to pick back up.  Always A Scoundrel will have a place on my bookshelves and is good enough to make me go to the bookstore to find the other two Notorious Gentlemen. 

--Shirley Lyons

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