Duke of Scandal
by Adele Ashworth
Lady Olivia Shea is not happy. No, she's really quite the woman scorned. She's going to find her wayward husband Edmund and make him pay her back every penny of the inheritance he's stolen from her. The problem is, when she thinks she's found him, it's not really him. The scoundrel she married never told her he had a twin brother, and that this twin is the Duke of Durham, Samson Carlisle. Olivia is stunned, and even more confused about how to find her husband and her money. Her family business is at stake, and she won't stop until she regains her rightful inheritance. But can Olivia trust this man who is so very different from his brother? Will he trust her long enough to let them work together? And what will happen to Olivia and Sam once Edmund and her money are found?
Sam is dumbfounded when Lady Olivia shows up and claims to be his sister-in-law. He hasn't seen his brother since Edmund nearly destroyed Samson's life, and reputation, ten years ago. Truthfully, Sam wants to believe Olivia, but trust isn't something Samson does easily. He and Olivia make a tenuous truce and Sam accompanies Olivia back to her Paris home and pretends to be Edmund, hoping to bring the real Edmund out of the woodwork. The problem is, the more time Sam spends with Olivia, the more he has to remind himself that she is not for him. He suspects that the marriage is not real, but does Olivia know that? And does she know how much Sam wants her for himself?
Lady Olivia is a very strong woman. She has had to be, to become the best in her business of owning a Paris parfumers. She knows what she wants and she's going to make sure she gets it. Olivia is still a bit innocent, still a bit too trusting, and is surprised that Sam can even think that she might be lying. But she is drawn to him in a way she never was to Edmund. The short period between when she was supposedly married and when she has found her brother-in-law has forced her to grow up, and now she realizes that the things she feels for Sam are more profound and dangerous than what she ever felt for Edmund.
Samson has had a difficult time. He'd been forced to learn how to be a duke from the earliest of ages, while his twin brother was allowed incredible freedom. Then that same brother was responsible for ruining Samson's reputation. Now it's time to find Sam's missing brother and put the past to rest. What he never bargained for was finding that he really can believe in a woman once again. It's been years since Sam trusted a woman, so the attraction he feels is a double-edged sword.
At first I thought this book was a bit slow, as it seemed like it took awhile for things to get moving, but I really ended up liking it a lot. It was just the kind of story that I enjoy, with the focus on the tension between the main characters and their emotions, conflicts, etc. I liked the way Olivia comes off as a woman of the world, a strong-minded business woman, and yet she'd been so naÃ¯ve in her relationship with Edmund. I also liked how she is a bit awed by Sam at first but ends up holding her own.
Sam was a good character, too, torn between wanting to believe everything Olivia tells him and holding himself back from a relationship because of the distrust he learned the hard way. And I liked the way that Sam pretending to be Edmund softened him a bit and helped him relax.
There were a couple little things in the ending that seemed a little too pat for me, tied up too neatly, but overall this was a very good read. I'll be looking for the next book in this trilogy!
“They are forced to join forces in the search for his brother. Will they find something else instead?”
May 2006, 400 pages
A wife in name only, Lady Olivia Shea has returned to London in a rage, determined to confront her new husband, who vanished months ago with her inheritance on their wedding night. Yet this hauntingly familiar man who stands before her – this face and form she adores – is not her deceiving Edmund but the blackguard's twin brother, Samson Carlisle, Duke of Durham. Samson knows of his sibling's penchant for perfidy and he graciously offers to help the exquisite Olivia locate the missing rogue and recover her stolen fortune.
But Olivia fears that accompanying this mysterious, dangerous, eminently desirable man would be courting the most devastating sort of scandal – especially since it is now Samson's arms she aches to feel surrounding her, and his kiss she longs to taste….