To bed her but not wed her. That's what Sterling Mabry, the eighth Duke of Greystone, wants. But Frannie abhors arrogant aristocrats interested only in their own pleasure. So why then does the thought of an illicit tryst with the devilish duke leave her trembling with desire? Her willing body begs for release...and a wicked, wonderful surrender.
Comment: This is the third installment in the Scoundrels of St James series by author Lorraine Heath. I enjoyed the previous books a lot and have been having fun with the "scoundrels", a group of children from the streets of London who are now grown ups and have different lives from those days of difficulties and poverty.
This is the story of Frannie Darling, the girl of the group. She had a similar childhood to all the boys, she learned how to pickpocket and how to play the part to deceive others but at 12 she was sold and lost her innocence. She never felt interested in any man until now. Her friend Luke married Catherine, the daughter of a duke and now, her brother, the current duke, is part of their lives and she feels attracted to him. Sensing he disapproves, she makes conversation but his opinion of her is disappointing...at least until they look at one another more seriously and what's between them can be as special as they never thought they could have...
I liked this book but I kind of expected to, considering my opinion of the previous installments. There are always weaker books but my expectation that a relationship between a girl from the poorer side of London and a duke proves to be interesting and captivating. Yes, it's not realistic or likely to have happened in real life but to be honest, I'm not completely against anachronisms s long as the plot makes sense and the characters act according to their personality.
The author has done a good job portraying the way the characters become who they are now. I like the details about their pasts aren't too long or talked about over and over. It's part of them, but the setting is now. We also learn a lot from character's actions and decisions and that's great because it makes the plot move along without being too boring.
One of the strongest things in the series, so far, has been the relationship between the childhood characters. Now that it's Frannie's turn on happiness, it was fun to seeing them defending her against Sterling when they thought he only wanted to use her. It doesn't mean they take up a lot of the scenes but when they do, it adds to the plot somehow.
Frannie is a good heroine, she has all the necessary elements to be likable and someone we would cheer for, despite her traumatic experience in the past. She is positive and hardworking and only wants what's best for the children who have no hopes, no home, no one to help them survive. Her goal is to build as many orphanages as she can, and schools so she can provide something for them. It's hard not to really like her but her weakest point I'd say is she's too perfect, so the almost sounds like she should be in a pedestal and it can look too angelic and less human than all of us. But it's minor thing, the way the plot flows doesn't let the reader dwell on this too long.
Sterling, the Duke of Greystone, Catherine's brother, had a fall out with their father before he died and Sterling feels he was to blame and with the disappointment their father didn't want to speak with him again, not even just before he died. Now Sterling has a secret and he feels it's payback of sorts for his reckless years. He knows Frannie can only be someone he has for a while but with time it was so cute to see him fall in love, to see him defend her, to see him do everything to help her, even if it meant accepting orphans in his house temporarily.
Sterling and Frannie's relationship was sweet, not too unbalanced as I imagined by their ranks in society and the steps taken to be together, to be a help only added to the strength of their bond. There were a couple of times where everything felt a bit too easy, where it's difficult to imagine Society would accept their being together so easily or without more scandal but I admit it's not something that bothers me too much.
The HEA was sweet and romantic as expected, although some passages of the epilogue made me wonder if it wouldn't be better to focus on something different, rather than an overall image of their lives so often into the future...anyway, the story is still good. Not the best historical ever, but it had many strong points that made me glad I read it.
I hope the next one is as interesting, especially because it's the character that doesn't have as much presence as the others, even despite his work...