THE BATTLE BETWEEN LADY AND RAKE IS ABOUT TO BEGIN...Publisher: Harlequin, January 2011
Lady Justine is willing to trade her good name, her reputation and her place in London's gossip-hungry ton, to secure her father's release from prison. But when the notorious Duke of Bradford counters her offer with a proposal of marriage, the stakes grow higher still. For while the smoldering lord is famous for his conquests, the man is oblivious to both her devotion and her charms. And Justine is soon afraid she has wagered all for naught...
Genre: Historical Romance
Single Title/Series: PRELUDE TO A SCANDAL is Book One in The Scandal Series.
Cover Thoughts: I really like this cover. It has a wonderful timeless factor and the rich detail is just beautiful to look at.
Why I Read It: I received an Advanced Review Copy from the author.
After Lady Justine's father publishes his "offensive" findings of the natural world's innate predilection for buggery, he's thrown into prison by the king for suggesting, even scientifically, that homosexuality is God's creation and therefore should not be condemned. Desperate to have her father released, Justine offers up her body for one night to the powerfully influential Duke of Bradford in exchange for her father's release but is shocking offered marriage in response.
Justine has long been enamored with Bradford since her arrival in London two years ago after her father wrapped up his studies in Cape Town, Africa. Knowing that Bradford sponsored her father's studies endeared him to her already but his smooth charm, kind eyes, and his fearlessness to talk to her despite her unconventional upbringing, instantly made him her friend. When scandal erupts leaving Bradford ensconced in his home shunning all society, Justine takes pity on him and writes him weekly despite the fact that she never once receives a response. Her letters, not flowery or painted with adoration, merely tell Bradford about her daily activities and the activities of the ton. But the offering of Justine's virginity sure gets her a response, with marriage nonetheless, and while his strange stipulations demand that they not see each other until the day of their wedding, he'll make sure her father is released from prison in exchange.
Justine represents Radcliff Morton's, the Duke of Bradford's, last hope of conquering his self degrading addiction to pleasure. For eight months he's shunned all society, all females to be more precise, even going to the extent of dismissing all his female servants. For eight months he's denied himself any physical pleasure hoping to squash the addiction that endlessly plagues his thoughts and body. Knowing that he has a chance to be the man he wants to be with Justine, he offers her marriage but in a slightly despicable and decidedly rakish manner by bribing her with her father's release. Upon his marriage with Justine, he realizes immediately that he's picked the right woman for not only does she have the potential to make him a better man, but she's also dangerously close to stealing his heart. Now if only he can keep from screwing up this one and final shot at happiness.
Lady Justine Palmer reminded me strongly of Lindsay Lohan's "Mean Girls" character. After spending the entirety of her adolescence in Africa, Justine is wonderfully unconventional with a tantalizing combination of innocence and worldliness. It's this combination that makes her ideal for Radcliff. She's not some untried miss, she's seen real life, has lived by the rules of the animal kingdom. Not only that, but her parents are open, caring, and encourage her independence while also wishing for her to make a happy match in society.
Recognizing instantly that Radcliff suffers from a serious problem, Justine isn't deterred but determined to help him by teaching him not only respect for her and himself, but by teaching his broken heart how to love. Sexually inhibited, Justine encompasses all the pleasure Radcliff could ever hope for while also showing him that sex isn't just about pleasure, but about connection and intimacy. It's Justine's knowledge of love as well as her patience that gifts her with an almost magical ability to heal a man desperate to be whole.
Radcliff is a man with the odds stacked up against him. He suffers from an all consuming sex addiction, has a brother who loathes him, was shown by his mother that the words "I love you" are completely meaningless, and brutally castrates himself as worthless. But what makes Radcliff special is his desire to be a good man and a good husband to Justine. He wants to beat everything that's held him down and he knows from the first moment that he's lucky to have the one woman that has the very real potential to change him. Justine gives him hope and while he makes numerous, sometimes heartbreaking mistakes, Radcliff never fails to pick himself up and try over and over again to better himself.
My Final Thoughts:
PRELUDE TO A SCANDAL is as unconventional a historical as its wonderfully unconventional characters. Exploring such taboo plot arcs as sodomy, pornography and sex addiction, its author Delilah Marvelle unveils a believable and heart rendering story that rings with a sublime truth. Sex addiction was undoubtedly suffered by men and women of this time period and to boldly explore a sickness that is scoffed at even in today's society gives new meaning to the word courage.
What baffled me but also made for a pleasurable reading experience, is that the subjects Marvelle explores could have easily saturated the novel in darkness. Radcliff's suffering is profoundly felt and the sickness he's plagued with becomes detrimental time and again to his marriage with Justine. Yet this darkness is wonderfully balanced with laugh-out-loud humor and scenes that had me in stitches. Justine herself is quite hilarious. She brings a much needed light to Radcliff's world as well as shining her light on the story, relieving the reader time and again of the burden we share with Radcliff.
I must confess to being nervous of Marvelle using the horrid Big Misunderstanding with PRELUDE TO A SCANDAL. There's many a moment that could have been misconstrued and made to further the plot but Marvelle never makes a mockery of her characters or their plight ensuring that the trust between Radcliff and Justine is strong but of course earned.
Delilah Marvelle has definitely earned her place on my list of must read authors. Her unconventional and thoroughly researched history makes for hours of simply good reading. She challenges her readers to open their mind to a new brand of hero, one that makes you fall in love him for a whole new set of reasons. Delivering a refreshing and inspiring read, Marvelle is much recommended by this blogger.
For historical romance readers tired of tried and true and desperate for something that will blow your hair back in terms of intensity, humor, and romance, look no farther than Delilah Marvelle's, PRELUDE TO A SCANDAL. Enjoy!
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Book Review's by Deanna
The Scandal Series Book Two
Releases January 18, 2011
Lady Victoria Jane Emerson left behind her girlish notions of romance when Jonathan deserted her without a backward glance. Now the time has come when she must finally choose a husband, and she has vowed to marry someone who will never break her heart.
Jonathan Pierce Thatcher, Viscount Remington, has returned home, free of all his family's debts. Only to discover that by some miracle he has been chosen to vie for the hand of his beloved Victoria. To convince his only love to once again believe in the magic of love and the promise of desire will be his greatest challenge yet. And one he cannot fail!
The Perfect Scandal by Delilah Marvelle
The Scandal Series Book Three
Releases February 16, 2011
SCANDAL WAS THE LAST THING ON THEIR MINDS...
If there is anything Tristan Adam Hargrove, fourth Marquis of Moreland, has learned to avoid, it's scandal. For the dark and dashing lord is an honorable gentleman who would never seduce a woman for his own gain.
When a raven-haired beauty arrives as his new neighbor, he knows better than to succomb to the desire he feels. He knows little about her -- only that she is high born, a protege of the Crown and completely unsuitable for the base passions he hides from the world. If only he had never glimpsed the vulnerable beauty one fateful night. If only her lips were not so ravishingly red. If only it were not already too late to save her and himself from the untamed passion he is about to unleash in the name of love.