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.Publisher: HQN, February 2011
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.
Genre: Historical Romance
Single Title/Series: THE PERFECT SCANDAL is book three in the Scandal Series but can very easily be read as a stand alone as these books are very, very loosely tied.
Cover Thoughts: Aside from the gorgeous cotton-candy pink color (the digital copy looks more lavender but its very much pink in reality), I'm not a fan of the couple. I just don't find them attractive but I do love that all three Scandal Series covers share a beautiful and colorful theme.
Origin: I received a copy of the book from the author in exchange for an honest review.
Tristan Adam Hargrove, the fourth Marquis of Moreland, projects the very image of a perfect gentleman. But beneath his gleaming bright and polished exterior lies a tortured soul where only the most strict of regimented control can keep his blood thirsty demons at bay. Therefore, each day is planned to the very minute circumventing any chance for a relapse into a spiral of defeat. And each day, Moreland crawls up to the surface of his well of self condemnation, reminding himself that he is worthy of love and a chance at happiness. But as a tortured man who maintains his level best to remain scandal free despite all his dark issues, Moreland soon finds himself soul deep in a sensational scandal involving not only His Majesty, Poland and Russia but his...next door neighbor?
Countess Zosia Urszula Kwiatkowska is determined to make the best of her hasty and unsubstantiated exile from Poland. Under His Majesty of England's guardianship, Zosia is being ordered to marry and marry immediately. Fine, she'll marry but the gentleman will have to meet her own criteria, criteria that includes a seat in the House of Lords. You see, Zosia has a plan to use her voice and help her fellow Poles fight the oppression they're suffering under Russia's ruling fist and she's found the perfect man to help her with her cause: Lord Moreland, her next door neighbor. His austere form and coveted House of Lords seat makes him the perfect candidate. Plus, Zosia's been receiving an eye full via her handy spy glass which is pointed none too discreetly at Lord Moreland's bedchamber window across the street leaving Zosia salivating for a taste of her seemingly perfect neighbor. But how does a lady confined to her house flag down such a respectable gentleman? She hollers out to him from her bedchamber window, that's how!
Having midnight window conversations with one's neighbor is not how Moreland normally conducts his affairs and while he tries to inform his lusciously delectable neighbor that she ought to rein in her scandalous behavior, her persistence has him lingering where prudence would advice him to leave. In fact, everything about Zosia inspires Moreland to stay just to learn more about her, to breathe in her scent and let her calm acceptance settle deep into his tormented soul. And when Moreland makes the decision to make Zosia his, its met with grinding determination and the complete surrender to the most elaborate scandal, one that could very well cost Moreland his wealth, his title, and even perhaps his life. But as his one and only shot at love and true happiness, Moreland is determined to risk it all.
Brash, bold, and a superior conversationalist, Zosia is every bit the perfect heroine to Moreland's very imperfect lifestyle. She's a woman who wouldn't dare judge anyone by first glance having been judged so harshly on her own unconventional image and therefore seeks to understand Moreland before making her decision on how he'll fit into her life. Likely, she's the first to ever do this with Moreland for her charismatic and heartfelt inquiries about his person breaks down defenses that have kept everyone else from even trying.
But, it's not only Zosia's endearing and genuine interest in Moreland that makes her his perfect match, it's also her wit and intelligence that engages Moreland into rampant and exciting conversation. In addition, there's an honestly to Zosia, a complete lack of condescension that infects most females, both historical and modern. She gives Moreland a window to finally set free his dark demons without the burden of unwanted pity or the indignity of another believing he should be handled with kid gloves. Zosia gives him the freedom to be the man he's long desired to be. Not only that, she gives him the tools and the want to truly heal once and for all.
Moreland is a man who desperately wants to be deserving of happiness but is convinced that deep down, in the really dark places, that he's too ruined for his wish to ever come true. Having lived through the nightmare of losing his parents and being burdened with an inconsolable rage as a teen, Moreland turned to a very unconventional means to release his pain. In doing so, he's became scarred not only physically but scarred to his very soul. Thus a conundrum exists in where Moreland wants a wife, a family, and happiness but his strict guard restricts others from the chance of ever understanding him therefore forcing Moreland to forever live his life one step forward and two steps back. Thankfully Zosia breaks through Moreland's ridiculous schedule, his regimented control and his fortified guards first by surprise and then with endearing intent. Now, not only does Moreland want to better himself for his own sake, but he finally has someone worthy enough to better himself for.
My Final Thoughts:
It's the inherent imperfections of Moreland and Zosia that make THE PERFECT SCANDAL perfection. Marvelle conquers some rather scandalous issues with this third Scandal Series installment and her courageousness, as always, is applauded by this reader. Seriously, the woman burdens her characters with some extremely heavy issues that aren't generally tackled in the genre. What earns even more of my respect is that Marvelle manages to makes it all work. Somehow in the span of three hundred and fifty to four hundred pages, her characters and their flaws are resolved to an adequate enough degree to make for a believable Happily Ever After. Always fast paced with a healthy spackle of witty and fun repartee, none of Marvelle's books lack for entertainment.
And in keeping with the theme of the Scandal Series, THE PERFECT SCANDAL provides a very interesting historical backdrop for its pink clad contents. Poland is often a country forgotten mostly because of its neutrality, but it shines brightly here with its enigmatic heroine and her fight for her people and their much deserved justice. Besides, England shouldn't be allowed to hog all the limelight in historical romance. *wink* And finally, despite the heavy political backdrop, THE PERFECT SCANDAL revolves very much around Moreland and Zosia making them center stage of this mini epic of a romance novel.
As a fellow longtime reader, it feels as though the hunt is forever on for something new and exciting to sink our voracious teeth into. We not only want but need something fresh, something that breaks boundaries and gifts our imagination with the freedom to fly. It's creative and courageous authors like Delilah Marvelle that set our hearts on fire with the passion and the appreciation for all things unconventional. Of course the promise of a Happily Ever After gives us our coveted safety net, but truly, it's books like THE PERFECT SCANDAL and authors like Marvelle that keeps our fire for reading and romance burning. Enjoy!
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THE PERFECT SCANDAL