Harlequin Historical, $6.50, ISBN 978-0-373-29865-5
Historical Romance, 2016
Scoundrel of Dunborough is linked to Bride for a Knight, in that the hero of this one, Gerrard of Dunborough, is the twin brother of the hero of the other book, and this one refers quite a lot to events in that book. I’d recommend reading that book first before tackling this one, just to be on the safe side.
I don’t recall the entire family of the hero to be a particularly nice bunch, and I don’t believe Gerrard was a nice fellow either, but oh well, if the author wants him to be the hero here, hey, why not? In this one, Celeste D’Orleau, someone he knew from way back (he was the one who caused her to be send to the nunnery, after all), shows up to settle loose ends after her sister’s murder. She is dressed in a nun’s garb, so he and everyone else believe her to be one. Don’t worry, she isn’t – a shame, really, as her being one might have made things interesting. Heaven knows, this story could use more interesting elements.
I’m not sure what this story is supposed to be. The plot is basically like this: “Things just amble along… the hero and the heroine recall the past and mentally lust after one another in the present… OH NO A MAD DUDE’S COMING TO GET THE HEROINE… hero saves her, so it must be love, the end.” I find myself confused by the main characters’ motivations. They go back and forth from yes to no, and I don’t get a feeling that there is any mental connection between those two.
A big problem here is that the author has her main characters have all kinds of mistrust and reservations about the other person, but these issues never seem to really make any impact here. Celeste is right in that Gerrard has a tendency to blame other people for his frequent unnecessary lies or obfuscation (for example, it is always the heroine’s fault when he loses control and wants to maul her, because how dare she has these looks and sexy mojo to tempt him like that), and that he is a selfish man who rarely thinks of anything beyond his immediate pleasures. In fact, in one rather creepy scene, he tries to push his amorous attentions on her because her dress is making him horny. The heroine seems to know his flaws and calls him on it now and then, but the author then has the heroine go, oh but she will always love him anyway. It’s the same with the hero. He thinks that the heroine has lied to him and used him badly… but he will always love her anyway.
This “I will love that other person no matter what” thing is like a short cut for the author to still tether her main characters together when what these two really need is a loud, screaming match to get all those things between them to come out in the open. Instead, in this story, the two characters end up together because this is a romance novel and they have to, not because they have any convincing romance going on. This short cut also prevents Gerrard and Celeste from growing as characters – their thoughts and feelings, instead, tend to go in circles until it is time to end the story.
Maybe the author’s efforts were hindered by the word count, which prevented the story from having more much-needed development. Or maybe the author is rushing because she has a plane to catch. At any rate, Scoundrel of Dunborough has enough groundworks to be a conflict-heavy story full of passion and tumultuous feelings, but the end result is a bit of a garbled mess.