Review: When Marrying a Scoundrel by Kathryn Smith

Publisher: Avon
Where did you get this book: E-arc from the author.
Release date: Out now.
Blurb taken from
A lady must be prepared for anything . . . when marrying a scoundrel.

Sadie Moon once thought she was in love. Then her dashing husband left her to seek his fortune, and she had no choice but to transform herself from a heartbroken waif into London Society’s favorite fortune-teller. But even she could not have foreseen Jack’s return—until their paths cross in the last place either would have expected: London’s most exclusive house of pleasure.

Now wealthy and successful, Jack Friday has everything he’d ever dreamed of . . . except Sadie. He swears he will never trust the woman who broke her promise to wait for him, though his passion for her burns as hotly as ever before. But love, like the past, comes back to haunt them—drawing them into a web of intrigue and betrayal that could save or destroy them both.

I am not usually a huge fan of the second chance love trope in romance, but I have to say this book turned me around and surpassed my expectations. It also helped me out of my book doldrums caused by a badly written book I just finished. So it was a delight to get engrossed in Sadie and Jack’s story which is the second book in a series I have enjoyed so far.

I loved the premise and the initial reunion between Jack and Sadie who were both likeable and well fleshed out. Sadie – who makes her fortune reading tea leaves (yes pun intended!) – is close to having a dream of hers come true by opening a tea room which will cater to ladies who will need refreshments after a day of shopping, and where she could also ply her trade. But there is a spanner in the works when she finds her landlord is her wayward husband whom she had left nearly a decade ago.

The main aspect that I do not like about the second chance love trope is the angst about the separation which can really drag on. It can be tedious with the hero and heroine blaming each other and the story dwells on the obstacles without any development. But in When Marrying a Scoundrel both Jack and Sadie’s exchanges and meetings were emotionally intense, as well as illustrating their love and attraction for each other which helped to convey a great sense of sexual tension between them.  I really got caught up in this development throughout the story, and I think my favourite scene was the buildup to their first love scene – which for me was very hot due to the culmination of the sexual tension. But I also felt their pain, frustration and loneliness of the lost years they had missed, and it was a very poignant and satisfying scene – especially the lead up to it which conveyed their bittersweet emotions.

Did he think she could ever forget? Yet, he didn’t seem to be looking for a fight. He couldn’t even look her in the eye. No, it wasn’t a fight he wanted.
“Yes,” she replied in a little more than a whisper. “I remember.”
“Good.” Now he looked at her, jaw tight. “Because I can’t seem to think of anything else.”
How was she to respond to that? “It’s because we left so much unsaid. It makes sense that all those things haunt us now.”
“Haunt.” He made a noise in the back of his throat- like a growl. “That’s a good way to put it. You haunt me.”
Sadie took a step towards him. “Jack-”

He held up his hand, scowling. ” I can’t sleep. I can’t think. I can’t even fuck.” His harsh tone made word all the more guttural. “You’ve totally unmanned me.”

Jack and Sadie were both very likeable. I particularly liked Jack’s sense of humour and Sadie’s spunky and independent attitude. They were both well matched and their chemistry really leapt up from the page. However, I was getting frustrated with Sadie’s obstinate attitude  towards Jack even after their misunderstandings were resolved. Although later the reason behind her stubbornness and the revelation that came made it understandable why she felt that way, I wished this had been highlighted more earlier although there were hints. But this really brought their feelings to the forefront of the story.

Another aspect I loved about When Marrying a Scoundrel were the villains of the story, they created true obstacles that did not feel forced or between Sadie and Jack. and They were also multi-faceted, especially the character of Lady Gosling who at first appears to be a mercenary maneater. But her past and circumstances explained why she became an antagonist in the story and I ended up sympathising with her.

There were also witty and fun moments.  I really loved the setting of Madam Vienne La Rieux’s salon and it looks like she will be the focus of the next book which I hope will have her story with Trystan, Jack’s business partner. This was a well written  romance that had heart and soul at its centre and with well drawn out characters, and it’s a good sign for me to look forward to a followup.

I give When Marrying a Scoundrel 4 out of 5 stars.

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