Montlake Romance, $12.95, ISBN 978-1503947894
Historical Romance, 2015
Virtuous Scoundrel, for good or bad, is a throwback to the formulaic traditional Regency stories that Signet used to put out back in those days when stories without any sex could still bring in some decent profits for the publisher. The emphasis here is the word “formulaic” – very, very formulaic.
Sebastian Sherbrook, the new Marquess of Manwaring, is back in town to enjoy his newly minted elevation of status after spending some time abroad. He used to be a scoundrel, but he’d like to imagine that he’s mellowed and reformed. Unfortunately, he came back to news that he had impregnated and abandoned some lady, and that lady’s father wants satisfaction. Considering that Sebastian spent quite a lot of time avoiding that woman in the past, the fact that he had somehow knocked her up is news to him. Given his reputation, though, most people believe him to be a scoundrel. Well, except the heroine, and his friends, and his friends’ wives… okay, there’s quite a number of people who believe the best in him, but let’s just go along with the author and act like he’s really ill-treated and maligned by Society.
Oh, and he has the hots for his step-aunt. No, it’s nowhere as kinky as you may be thinking. Sebastian detests Lady Katherine Manwaring because any woman who married his detested uncle must be a scarlet harlot of the nth degree, so he hates her and he gave her the cut when they first met, even as he drools and acts like a dog in heat around her. She’s so beautiful, and she plays the piano like a pro, but oh, she is clearly a woman of ill repute… the pain, indeed.
Did someone say that Katherine is beautiful? Excuse her – she begs to differ. She knows that her nose is too long, her face is all wrong, and whatever really, and any man who pays attention to her must be up to no good, because she is clearly a hag that can never be loved. Not that she’d want to marry or anything, ever since she let herself be seduced by her music tutor in an act of defiance and paid dearly for it. She has no desire for any man – the hormones of a romance heroine clearly don’t work like a normal woman’s – other than Sebastian. Really – she has dreamed of him for years, and the very presence of him causes her to hyperventilate, stammer, blush, and what not. I wish I’m joking here, but I’m not – Katherine acts like she’s a witless asthmatic mastiff being slowly asphyxiated in his presence, and I guess I’m supposed to find that charming.
But of course, she knows that she and Sebastian can never be, even if she’s a widow so she can take lovers without marrying them, because it’s just not in her and, thus she will always suffer her desire in silence OH SEBASTIAN OH PLEASE PUT IT IN HER IN A GENTLEMANLY REGENCY HERO WAY BECAUSE SHE NEEDS IT oh stop, he’s clearly not into her (even if he has the tip in) because she’s so ugly and hideous and OH GIVE IT TO HER AH AH AH stop, stop, he can’t love her so everything must be a lie LIE WITH HER GIVE IT TO HER YOU SON OF A lies, lies, lies, shame, shame, guilt, guilt, love with never be hers KILL HER HOOHOO LIKE AN UNSTOPPABLE CHAINSAW YOU BASTARD sob sob, she will always be unhappy and blue but it’s okay, she may atone and pay for her guilt and shame and SHE IS BREATHLESSLY MOANING ABOUT HIM OH OH OH sob sob sob and OH JUST KILL ME ALREADY BECAUSE I SIMPLY CANNOT STAND THIS IMBECILE.
In addition to the heroine’s pathetic epileptic ragdoll act around Sebastian, the author also puts in the tiresome antics of the crazy other woman, the hero and the hero acting like morons who would prefer to jump to conclusions rather to talk, and the imbecile heroine from the previous book giggling (really) and smirking as she tries to matchmake Katherine to Sebastian. So we have one imbecile that vacillates between writhing in bed while moaning about the hero and acting like a super-special child around the man, and another imbecile that acts like the even more vacuous version of Dee Dee from Dexter’s Laboratory. And the whole thing is just an excuse for the beautiful heroine to whip herself while everyone around her tries to reassure her that she is indeed the most special snowflake in the world.
Virtuous Scoundrel is more accurately a vapid turdball in every way that counts.