Monday, May 18, 2009

Book Review: Always a Scoundrel

I just recently finished reading Always a Scoundrel by Suzanne Enoch, the third book in her Notorious Gentlemen trilogy. The series follows three male friends in Regency England who fought together in the Peninsular Wars. The hero of the first book, After the Kiss, is Sullivan Waring, the illegitimate son of a nobleman. The hero of the second book, Before the Scandal is Phinneas Something-or-Other, the younger brother of a nobleman. And this book is about Bramwell Johns, the second son of a duke. Perhaps it's the fact that the three of them lack the responsibilities that go along with a title that makes these guys act so "notoriously." Sully is a housethief, Phin is a highwayman, and Bram copies Sully to become a housethief himself.

I actually really enjoyed After the Kiss. I read a lot of Regency romance novels, so it's not uncommon that I'll read a book without really engaging in it in any way. But that didn't happen this book. I thought that the romance between the hero and heroine was sweet and genuine. Also, the development of their relationship came across as very natural, not rushed, as often happens in romance novels.

Before the Scandal, however, must have been very forgettable because I basically forgot everything about it. I couldn't even remember what the heroine's name was when I was reading Always a Scoundrel. Oops.

I would say that After the Scoundrel was better than the second book but not as good as the first. Bramwell Johns is supposed to be the ultimate bad guy, totally beyond redemption. He's friends with the worst guy in the ton. (I can't remember his name.) The two of them don't really have a real friendship because no one is really friends with the other guy. Also, Bram is not quite the lost cause his friend is because when he finds out that his friend is blackmailing a young lady to marry him, he feels the need to prevent the marriage.

As it just so happens, he falls in love with the lady himself.

What was hard for me to buy about the story was Bram's reformation. I'm kind of tired of that storyline. And, I didn't understand what it was about Rosamund that changed his mind. Smart Bitch Candy would attribute it to Rose's magic hoo-haa. Despite the fact that she's perfectly ordinary, he is dying to have her. It's a little hard to believe.

And there's another reason why I don't like that tired storyline. These rakish heroes are always total manwhores before they meet their heroines. And almost without fail, the women that they sleep with are portrayed as slutty, vindictive, moral-less women. Meanwhile, the heroes just move on to the virginal heroine.

That really bothers me. It takes two to tango, but it is only the women who have sex outside of love who are so villainized. They are written as really, really terrible people. It makes you wonder why these men even bothered with them to begin with, and why they seem to be capable of redemption but the women don't. It just makes me uncomfortable that they are always passed over for the pure virgins.

But all in all, Always the Scoundrel was a pretty good book if you can get past Bram's transformation from rakehell to devoted husband.

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