Title: The Perfect Scandal
Author: Delilah Marvelle
Publish Date: March 1, 2011 by HQN
Pages: 379, paperback
Reviewed by: ISALYS
Reason for reading: Reviewed for The Season for Romance
Tristan leads a very quiet life and always strives to be the perfect gentleman. He does so because he has a dark secret that he’s ashamed of. A secret few understand, including his grandmother. Raised by his grandmother after his parents double-suicide, she knows all too well the struggles he has faced and somewhat overcome. Unfortunately, even as a grown man well into his twenties, he still lives in the shadows of his vice.
Zosia was extricated from her homeland of Poland and has become a prisoner of sorts in her London townhouse. Without explanation, she was placed in the custody of the English King and was told she must marry a suitable Englishman. She accepted her fate and set her eyes on Tristan whom she had been watching from afar. She knows that he is everything her ideal husband should be: handsome, an upstanding member of society and most importantly, has great political connections.
One evening while Tristan was going for an evening walk, he spied his beautiful neighbor sitting by the window as she brushed her hair. He was transfixed. She caught him watching her, opened the window and struck up a rather unorthodox conversation with him. He was dumbfounded by her lack of manners, well, lack of by English standards. He was initially put-off by her, but he was also intrigued. After paying her a visit one day, he learned that she was an amputee. She had lost part of one of her legs when part of a building collapsed on her during a fire. Despite her situation, she remained entirely independent and self-confident.
Tristan and Zosia began spending more time together and learning about each other. Tristan decides to reveal his deep, dark secret and to his pleasant surprise, found Zosia to be very compassionate. He quickly developed feelings for her and when he found out that the King himself was her guardian, he sought his grandmother’s help in gaining the King’s consent on their marriage. He soon learned more about her than he bargained for. Zosia herself was unaware of her own history and the pivotal role she would play in Russian and Polish politics.
This review was a bit challenging to write for me because there was so much going on in this book. There was a depth and intensity to this novel that is rarely found in regency romances. Tristan’s secret was something I would not have expected from his character. Zosia was so much more than a pretty face. She was very politically astute and had grand ambitions to help save the people of her country. Together, they were a very complex, interesting and passionate pair.
Amidst the developing relationship between these two, Delilah also gave us great insight into the actual political relationship between Russia and Poland during the 18th century. However, although very interesting, the political undertones made the story a bit heavy and difficult to follow at times.
I like it when I can escape into a novel and be completely absorbed by it, but I love it when I can do that while learning something historically relevant. Delilah wraps up this trilogy with an impressive tale of two damaged people who find hope, love and acceptance in each other.
RATING: 4 hearts
HEAT LEVEL: 4 - Hot