Scoundrel’s Kiss follows on from Carrie Lofty’s début book: What a Scoundrel Wants, which was based around the legend of Robin Hood and featured Will Scarlett as the hero (I found he was a much hotter hero than any of the Robin Hood’s I’ve read about!).
In Scoundrel’s Kiss, the heroine is Ada of Keyworth, who is the sister of Meg: the heroine from What a Scoundrel Wants. Ada is in Spain and is a translator for one of the court’s nobles. Due to the torture she experienced and events from the previous book, she has left England and is estranged from her sister. To try and escape her pain and memories, Ada uses opium and gets addicted. Because of her addiction, Ada gets into trouble and is taken to be sold as a slave to pay off her debts.
Gavriel de Marqueda is an ex-warrior who is trying to atone for his dark past. He is training to become a monk, and is only a step away from his final vows. Gavriel comes across a slave auction where Ada is being auctioned off. Ada is also under the influence of opium during the slave auction. Because of his novice training, Gavriel is given a task by his senior and mentor, Master Pacheco, to save and help Ada from her addiction – which will help him to attain his monkhood.
The moment that Gavriel and Ada cross paths; trouble, chaos and intrigue surrounds them. Gavriel, who is close to his final vows in becoming a monk, is initially reluctant to commit to his task designated by his mentor and advisor. Ada is also reluctant to stay with him, and definitely doesn’t feel that she needs help to break her addiction to opium. Nonetheless, they both soon find their attraction to one another poses a threat to their chosen paths and desires.
For Gavriel, his emotional detachment gets battered over the course of the book as he challenges Ada to confront and defeat her addiction. He also finds himself questioning his own choices and feats. I felt that Ada is the perfect heroine and foil for Gavriel, as she really pushes his buttons but she also receives the same treatment. Gavriel soon becomes someone who can see through Ada’s fears, but can also understand and empathize with her. Soon, their attraction and growing emotional connection becomes a catalyst to face up to their personal demons and pain from their past.
I especially loved the juxtaposition of Ada’s addiction and feelings to Gavriel (which she regards in a similar way), and how Gavriel faces his own insecurities and fears, and soon realises that Ada is his lifeline. Romances which have this in its basis is one of my favourite tropes, and it delivers in Scoundrel’s Kiss. The sparks were flying off the pages between the protagonists which added to the heat and tension of the romance. It also adds real depth and emotional intensity to the story. They worked with each other — despite certain obstacles from both inner and outer forces — and they both saved each other from their designated paths.
There were layers of political and personal intrigue that surrounded both Ada, and Gavriel. It was very twisty and turvy which I adored – especially as it affected Gavriel psychologically and emotionally – and that added danger and tension to the story. But the depth of research and historical detail was fantastic and Carrie Lofty’s distinct style and descriptions of the settings really drew me in.
I have read a few Medieval Romances and some of them just gloss over those details, but in Scoundrels Kiss, the research added to the feel and atmosphere of the book. I especially loved finding out about the unconventional Order of Santiago, and its historical significance during that time period.
I also loved the swashbuckling tone, which the previous book had too, but the climax scene is brilliant – which features touches of humour but is also tension filled and action packed. It was also a great ending to Ada and Gavriel’s love story and really epitomizes Carrie Lofty’s unique style.
Scoundrel’s Kiss is in my top picks of Historical Romances this year. Ada and Gavriel’s story, for me, is even better than What a Scoundrel Wants and I highly recommend picking this book up. It’s a love story where you will root for the protagonists right from the beginning. Add in the intrigue and swashbuckling action, this is a real treat. I really hope I get to read about the secondary characters in the book as I feel there is more stories to come!
I give Scoundrel’s Kiss 5 out of 5 stars.
Thank you to Carrie Lofty for providing this ARC.