This is one of those books I absolutely loved despite it not being remotely representative of the title. There is nothing whatsoever scoundrelly about the hero in this story; on the contrary, he may be the nicest, most gentlemanly hero I’ve ever read in a historical romance. With a title like Once A Scoundrel, I was fully anticipating a reformed-rake story, but Gabriel Hawkins doesn’t have even a touch of the rake about him. Indeed, when confronted by the almost-naked heroine on their first meeting, he heroically keeps his eyes on her face. With intentions that were never less than honourable, he was a hero to die for.
Lady Aurora ‘Rory’ Lawrence is unconventional to say the least. The pampered - not to say spoiled - daughter of an earl, she declined to settle down into marriage with any of the gentlemen who offered during her Season and instead took off on a series of adventures around the world with her cousin and best friend, Constance. Visiting India, Egypt and Greece, they were on their way home to England when their ship was captured by Barbary pirates and Rory and Constance taken to Algiers, an exorbitant ransom demanded for their release.
Commissioned to negotiate their return, Gabriel has to use every bit of his guile, cunning and contacts gained in years of sailing the seas. From Algiers to Constantinople, this is a swashbuckler of a story, with bloodthirsty corsairs, treachery, and two love stories - Constance gets her own happy ending, too.
I loved Rory and Constance together too; their friendship was beautifully written and the idea of them writing Lady Adventurer novels on their travels was absolutely wonderful. Neither of them were prepared to sit about and wait for rescue, either, taking matters into their own hands when the crunch moment came.
In short, this is an absolutely fabulous Regency romance. Just don’t expect it to be remotely representative of the title.
Once A Scoundrel is available now.
Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book for review through NetGalley.