Prelude to a Scandal
Harlequin HQN, Jan 1 2011, $7.99
In 1829 in London, renowned naturalist the Earl of Marwood is arrested for violating the Buggery law on indecency due to his writing on South African mammal homosexuality. While her dad lingers in Marshalsea Debtors Prison unable to pay the exorbitant fine, his desperate daughter Lady Justine Fedora Palmer, who grew up in Africa, is concerned with freeing her dad from jail. Already a pariah amongst the Ton as she fails to fit, she turns to the notorious Lord of Pleasure dubbed “The Rake Extraordinaire” by the ladies of the Ton, duke Edwin Morton, with the offer of her body in exchange for his help.
He counters her consideration with a marriage proposal as he feels a female partner will make him whole and he prays end his sex addiction. Not fully understanding his craving, Justine decides to earn his respect while filling his obsessive appetite. Her fear is one woman will never be enough for her rake.
This is a fascinating late Regency romance that looks deep at several issues through a strong cast. Besides the sexual addiction problem of the Duke of Bradford, which his mistress cleverly manipulates for her gain, fans will relish the presence of Henri a gay servant and Justine’s dad whose writings cause trouble for himself, his wife and their daughter. Although the antics of the duke’s brother feel intrusive, readers who relish a profound issues-based historical romance will appreciate Delilah Marvelle’s powerfully character driven thriller.