Tuesday, September 20, 2011

BOOK REVIEW: Secret Life of a Scandalous Debutante by Bronwyn Scott

Harlequin Historical Aug 23 2011

288 pages by Bronwyn Scott


Just another dull debutante? From boxing at Jackson’s to dancing starry-eyed society belles around London’s ballrooms, Beldon Stratten is the perfect English gentleman. And he’s looking for a perfectly bland, respectable wife. Appearances can be deceiving… Exotic Lilya Stefanov is anything but bland. Beldon is intrigued to see the ragamuffin girl he once knew has matured into an elegant lady, poised and polite! But beneath the mysterious beauty’s evening gowns and polished etiquette lies a dangerous secret – and a scandalous sensuality…

An interesting adventure historical romance from Bronwyn Scott. The hero and heroine were extremely appealing with vast layers to their characters.

Beldon Stratten Baron Penedennys, at first blush is the epitome of the very proper English gentleman. He is attending balls to find himself a very staid and proper English young lady to take as a bride. Being extremely handsome in both face and form, he shouldn't have any difficulty attaining this goal. However, his attention is drawn to the complete opposite of staid, Lilya Stefanov. He is drawn to her by seeing her back, which was exposed in a rather daring gown. I love how Beldon seduced her in his mind. Imagine his shock in finding out the woman with the glorious back is none other than Lilya, his friend Valerian's ward. She had grown up into a stunning creature. Unfortunately, Lilya does not meet his criteria, she would not integrate into English society. Also he had to marry for money, of which Lilya had none, except from Valerian's dowry and Beldon could not take money from his friend.

Lilya is not immune to Beldon's rapt attention, she also is intrigued. Beldon emanates an aura of power, but also controlled reserve. Lilya senses passions lurk behind the impenetrable fortress he has up. From a simple touch and a sizzling dance, Lilya is attracted, but decides Beldon is not for her. He is too dangerous. Dangerous to her plans. Lilya is not your normal debutante. She is the keeper of a secret. In her possession is a diamond, which could turn the fate of nations.

A stunningly executed set up to a rousing adventure read. Even though Beldon and Lilya dismiss each other as potential marital material, it seems fate has other designs. Another suitor appears on the scene, Christoph Agyros. Is he interested in Lilya's beauty or what she may have in her possession?

There is an intriguing back story of Lilya's tragic past in Negush, Greece. All involving the secret diamond. When Beldon discovers Agyros intentions are not honorable and entirely mercenary, Beldon offers for Lilya's hand in marriage. He feels it is the only way he can protect her. Lilya soon gets past her annoyance, as the cool and reserved Beldon is a smoldering cauldron of desire underneath. Agyros was a fine villain.

Both the hero and heroine were interesting with many fascinating layers. Beldon especially was well done. His calm reserve masks a passionate, capable hero. The love scenes snapped and crackled. The plot richly dense and well plotted. I thoroughly enjoyed this book. A sizzling romance wrapped in a rousing adventure.

3.75 out of 4 stars for the book

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