Also by this author: The Love of a Rogue, Seduced By a Lady's Heart, Loved by a Duke, My Lady of Deception, To Wed His Christmas Lady, To Trust a Rogue, To Woo a Widow, To Redeem a Rake (The Heart of a Duke Book 11), The Rogue's Wager (Sinful Brides #1), Along Came a Lady (All the Duke's Sins, #1)
Series: The Heart of a Duke
Also in this series: The Love of a Rogue, Loved by a Duke
Published by CreateSpace on October 6, 2015
Genres: Historical, Regency, Romance
Ruthless, wicked, and dark, the Marquess of Rutland rouses terror in the breast of ladies and nobleman alike. All Edmund wants in life is power. After he was publically humiliated by his one love Lady Margaret, he vowed vengeance, using Margaret’s niece, as his pawn. Except, he’s thwarted by another, more enticing target—Miss Phoebe Barrett.
Miss Phoebe Barrett knows precisely the shame she’s been born to. Because her father is a shocking letch she’s learned to form her own opinions on a person’s worth. After a chance meeting with the Marquess of Rutland, she is captivated by the mysterious man. He, too, is a victim of society’s scorn, but the more encounters she has with Edmund, the more she knows there is powerful depth and emotion to the jaded marquess.
The lady wreaks havoc on Edmund’s plans for revenge and he finds he wants Phoebe, at all costs. As she’s drawn into the darkness of his world, Phoebe risks being destroyed by Edmund’s ruthlessness. And Phoebe who desires love at all costs, has to determine if she can ever truly trust the heart of a scoundrel
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“Scoundrels, rakes and rogues are not to be trusted.”
But, they are such a pleasure to read about. In Christi Caldwell’s latest book The Heart of a Scoundrel, Edmund Deering, the Marquee of Rutland, is a black hearted scoundrel who has been on the periphery in the previous The Heart of a Duke series. He has been villain and a romantic foil in the previous series of books. But now, Edmund gets his own book.
Honestly, I could not fathom how Caldwell was going to make me love him as a hero, in light of the past she had written for him. I did not want Edmund, a dark and dangerous blackguard, becoming a milk sop, love sick, ninny. Edmund true to form does everything he can to seek revenge on those who have spurned him, or might spurn him in the future. He is a character who never wants to be at the mercy of another, and he has lived his life as one needs to, ahead in the game of life at all costs. Then he meets the fiery and happy Miss Phoebe Barrett. The daughter of one of the many who owe him a debt or a favor. Edmund is all about keeping account and making sure he is the one with the most power. What Phoebe thinks is a chance meeting is actually a move in a long game of revenge that Edmund happens to be playing. The major difference is that Edmund is playing a game and Phoebe is unknowingly a pawn in this game. Or is she?
“Panic pounded in his chest as he, who prided himself of his mastery over self-control, had succumbed to his hungering for the breathless, wide-eyed innocent before him.”
Edmund is caught in his own trap, and ensnared by Phoebe. He doesn’t even know he is caught until it is far too late, and true to his character he lashes out at the one person who loves him. He feels caged, and doesn’t actually know how to live any other life than the one filled with games and revenge.
The book Caldwell has written is the best of her combined work. She delves deeply into Edmund’s character and gives the reader a stark bright light into the darkness that formed Edmund from a very young age. Edmund is a product of his environment, and a pawn of his vengeful parents. He was twisted and formed by their own hate to the extent that Edmund is a emotionally stunted adolescent in the body of a thirty two year old man.
In sharp contrast is the woman he adores, Miss Phoebe Barrett, who despite his father being a leech, drunkard and gambler, is a open, happy and bright young woman. She is not a cynic, as she has a bright light that shines from her, drawing Edmund like a moth to the flame.
“Then one such as she would never be needing forgiveness. No, she was the light to his dark. The innocence to his evil. And he was nothing more than that serpent tempting naïve Eve with that apple, and she was as drawn to that succulent red object as those two weak willed sinners in the garden had been.”
Where Edmund sees love as being weak, Phoebe sees love as being her strength, and the novel goes on to contrast the difference between the two character’s views on love and family. Edmund maybe broken, but is he salvageable? That is the greater question in the book.
“I wish I’d never met you Phoebe Barrett. For then he’d have never know this vulnerability.”
Another aspect of this book that I so thoroughly enjoyed was the camaraderies between the characters. First you have Phoebe, and her friend Honoria Fairfax and Gillian Farandale, two of her closet friends who have also been gossiped about by polite society because of their family connections. I love how Caldwell writes such wonderful friendships in her books. Then there is the relationship that Phoebe has with her siblings, Justina and Andrew, which is warm and sweet. On the other hand Edmund does not have friends because that would make him weak, but he has Wallace his aged butler, who is more like a father to him than his own was. The interaction between Wallace and Edmund gave me hope that Edmund could become the man he was supposed to be. I also got warm feelings by Andrew’s clinging onto Edmund, and Edmund not being cruel to the young dandy.
Edmund’s BDSM sexual proclivities that were mentioned in previous books in the series, are mentioned in this book, but there is no kink practiced in the text of this book. I was surprised that Caldwell did not explore that side of Edmund, or his need for it, as it is another control issue. The omission does not detract from the story. The book is powerfully written, and is an enthralling and poignant tale.
I am humbled and honored by this fabulous review on “The Heart of a Scoundrel”. A tremendous thank you for taking the time to review Rutland’s story and explore it with such analytical depth!