Scoundrel (A LLB favorite)
By
Elizabeth Elliott, 1996, European Historical
Bantam Fanfare, $5.99, ISBN #0-553-56911-2

Sensuality: Warm

Scoundrel is a rip-roaring romance set in Regency England. Lady Lily Walters must hide her identity as a master cryptographer and so acts the flirtatious, empty-headed chit. The Duke of Remmington, notorious ladies' man, is a master spy. Neither knows about each others' "work", although the Duke does realize Lily is infatuated with him. Their assumptions of each other turn upside down after Lily's life is threatened.

Forced to stay with him for her own protection, Lily is blamed for their more-intimate-by-the-day interludes by the Duke, who was so damaged by his first wife's infidelities that he has sworn off love. Acting the typical ordered, cold-hearted hero, he requests she stop looking at him with love in her eyes. By shifting the blame on her, he is able to deny that he is falling in love with this wondrous goddess with an equally amazing brain.

The Duke tries to maintain order in his life, even as his emotions cannot be contained. Knowing Lily loves him, he plans to keep her at a distance so that when she betrays him (as all women must), he won't be hurt. Though their passion can only be described as "making love", Remmington cannot this decipher his love for her until it is nearly too late.

Adventure and excitement abound in Scoundrel. The man set up to be Lily's would-be murderer is not (although by this point the reader has determined that). Cleverly plotted to immediately follow Remmington's "planned" declaration of love, Lily is kidnapped. She must rely on her cleverness and skills to save her life and that of her beloved husband's.

Scoundrel affected this reviewer more than most historicals set in the regency period due to Lily's and Remmington's characterizations. The author manages to make the predictable new due to the leads' responses. What remains predictable actually helps the book - there are less distractions to take away from the romantic aspect and its progression.

Lily's metamorphosis in Scoundrel is acceptance of herself as desirable. The Duke obviously becomes whole through his love for Lily. This is a delightful story and a strong follow-up to the author's debut effort, The Warlord. Elizabeth Elliott has proven that she can write both medievals and regency-set historicals with equal ease.

-- Laurie Likes Books

When this was published at The Romance Reader, editor Leslie McClain included this Editorís Note:

Laurie confesses that she knows this book has received a mixed reaction from readers. Nonetheless, she loved it. She says, "I just have to rave about Scoundrel. When I am able to read a book in virtually one sitting, almost being late to pick up my child for her 4-year check-up, I know it's a great read."

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