Lonesome Lily turned Scandalous Siren
Miss Lillian Hargrove has lived much of her life alone in a gilded cage, longing for love and companionship. When an artist offers her pretty promises and begs her to pose for a scandalous portrait, Lily doesn’t hesitate . . . until the lying libertine leaves her in disgrace. With the painting now public, Lily has no choice but to turn to the one man who might save her from ruin.
Highland Devil turned Halfhearted Duke
The Duke of Warnick loathes all things English, none more so than the aristocracy. It does not matter that the imposing Scotsman has inherited one of the most venerable dukedoms in Britain—he wants nothing to do with it, especially when he discovers that the unwanted title comes with a troublesome ward, one who is far too old and far too beautiful to be his problem.
Tartan comes to Town
Warnick arrives in London with a single goal: get the chit married and see her become someone else’s problem, then return to a normal, quiet life in Scotland. It’s the perfect plan, until Lily declares she’ll only marry for love . . . and the Scot finds that there is one thing in England he likes far too much . . .
Publisher and Release Date: Avon, September 2016
Time and Setting: London, 1834
Genre: Historical Romance
Heat Level: 2
Reviewer Rating: 3 stars
Review by Wendy
Having absolutely loved Sarah MacLean’s The Rules of Scoundrels series, and read all four novels back to back, I was very pleased to be given the opportunity to read and review A Scot in the Dark.
What a huge disappointment. Having romped through the earlier novels mentioned, I actually struggled to finish this one, and it was only Ms. MacLean’s eloquent writing skills that kept me reading and eventually dragged the book up into the three star bracket. The silly title of the novel should have given the game away; I’m assuming it is a play on words referring to the 1960’s farcical, Inspector Clouseau/Pink Panther film A Shot in the Dark, although I can’t see how that relates to this book at all.
Alec Stuart, twenty first Duke of Warnick, a Scotsman with a strong dislike of anything or anyone remotely English, has been recalled from the depths of Scotland to deal with a scandal his English ward has embroiled herself in. Alec had very reluctantly, five years previously, inherited the dukedom by default after the demise, in quick succession, of seventeen of his predecessors. Amongst his many responsibilities, his ward, Miss Lily Hargrove is about to give him the biggest headache of all.
Lilian, exquisitely beautiful, but without friends or a place in society, has spent most of her adult life in near isolation since the death of her land-steward father left her under the guardianship of the Dukes of Warnick – of which there have been so many. Somehow in the tumult that followed the demise of the string of would-be dukes, her existence has been forgotten, and she has lived quietly and simply, living in one of the many ducal residences and receiving the allowance she is entitled to from the estate under the terms of her wardship. Her nonentity as a person is suddenly changed, however, by her association with a talented but unscrupulous artist, who has offered her love and marriage; in return – she must sit for a nude portrait, which would be for his eyes only. Lonely Lily as she has been dubbed by society, is taken in by his smooth talking. Her world comes crashing down around her ears in front of all of London when her lover makes it very clear, publicly, that she is just his model and that he has no intention of marrying her. And worse, he has set a date to reveal his masterpiece and Lily’s nakedness to all and sundry. With ruin and ostracism staring her in the face she is in dire straits and without friends, and so it is, that after five years, Alec has finally been roused to take his responsibilities to his neglected ward seriously.
Alec has no liking for society nor for its dictates and even less liking for the English as a race. Here I must add that I found his constant harping on about his dislike of the English, REALLY IRKSOME! he blames everything that has ever happened to him on the English and really his reasons are all pretty trivial. He is a handsome man, large, exceedingly tall and broad, described as brutish by some, and yet women still want him, but only for his obvious attractions. He is treated like a stud, A Scottish Brute, and this only adds to his general dissatisfaction with life in general but especially with the English.
Although Lily wants to cut and run, Alec wants her to stay, believing – rightly – that the scandal will follow her wherever she goes. He decides that the best way to deal with it is to get her married off to an aristocrat before the date of the portrait’s public revelation in ten days time and to this end, he draws up a list of eligible, titled, but penniless aristocrats and instructs Lily to choose her future husband. Some pretty ridiculous scenarios follow – one of them involving a silly dress decorated with dogs – which just added to my general annoyance and difficulty in taking this novel seriously.
It is obvious that the Lily and Alec are attracted to each other but Alec is convinced that he is nothing but a big, brutish, uncouth Scotsman and believes Lily is far too perfect for him. Why? She’s been publicly disgraced and is the daughter of a land steward whereas he’s a duke. I could not believe in the attraction between them and found the constant, will-they-won’t-they, really frustrating.
A Scot in the Dark doesn’t even begin to compare with some of Ms.MacLean’s, earlier, deeper, more meaningful novels, and I was really disappointed with it. I’m hoping that this is just a blip and I can look forward to more great work from this author.