Published by Avon on August 30, 2016
Genres: Regency Romance
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Lonesome Lily Turned Scandalous Siren
Miss Lillian Hargrove has lived much of her life alone in a gilded cage, longing for love and companionship. When an artist offers her pretty promises and begs her to pose for a scandalous portrait, Lily doesn't hesitate...until the lying libertine leaves her in disgrace. With the painting now public, Lily has no choice but to turn to the one man who might save her from ruin.
Highland Devil turned Halfhearted Duke
The Duke of Warnick loathes all things English, none more so than the aristocracy. It does not matter that the imposing Scotsman has inherited one of the most venerable dukedoms in Britain—he wants nothing to do with it, especially when he discovers that the unwanted title comes with a troublesome ward, one who is far too old and far too beautiful to be his problem.
Tartan Comes to Town
Warnick arrives in London with a single goal: get the chit married and see her become someone else's problem, then return to a normal, quiet life in Scotland. It's the perfect plan, until Lily declares she'll only marry for love...and the Scot finds that there is one thing in England he likes far too much...
I’ve noticed a lot of people (via my Twitter stream) don’t like the inspiration for this story/series. For those who don’t know, it’s basically “if TMZ existed during the Regency.” There’s a mention of the Kardashians having been a part of the original inspiration as well. Some readers see this and instantly think that the whole book is a rip off of Keeping Up With the Kardashians. It’s not. In fact, Avon has another series called Keeping Up with the Cavendishes that is more along those lines, and it’s pretty fun. But this is more in the line of a woman who acts out of line for the Ton’s way of thought, and is punished for it via the media. In this particular story, instead of a celebrity with a leaked sex tape, it’s a well-known young woman who poses for a nude painting. It’s meant for her lover’s eyes only, but he decides it’s his Mona Lisa and shows the world.
Okay, moving on, my main point with this note, is that if you hate the Kardashians, that won’t be a problem with this series. If you love the Kardashians, you’ll see a nod to them in a manner of speaking and you might get a kick out of it. I mean, if you think about it, Kim Kardashian’s ex-boyfriend leaked their sex tape to the world, and instead of being humiliated, she made a humongous business from the notoriety. She’s famous for being famous. Keep that in mind when you read this.
Lily is lonely. Not just lonely, but so lonely that she fully expects to never feel human touch again. It’s heartbreaking. She’s a ward of the Duke of Warnick, has been since she was a child, but she’s been largely ignored. She’s not titled, but she’s not the same status as the servants either, she’s at a weird in-between place. And about 5 years before the main action of the book starts, the duke dies. And in a series of tragic accidents, his next 17 successors die. The title finally lands on Scotsman Alec Stuart, the latest Duke of Warnick. The problem? He doesn’t want the title.
He tells the solicitor in very blunt terms, that he wants nothing to do with it. So the man leaves Alec. And it takes 5 years before he bothers him again. But the letter is to let him know he has had a ward this whole time, and now, she needs his help. ASAP.
Lonely Lily has been so lonely for so long, that when a man notices her in the park, she falls instantly in love with him, or unknowingly, she’s in love with the attention he shows her. She’s starved for attention. Desperate for any contact. What bothers me about this is that Lily is known amongst the ton as the most beautiful woman in the world. Literally. And yet, she’s ignored. She never got a Season since her patron duke died. The next several dukes never knew her, and Alec didn’t even know of her. So I get that she wasn’t out and couldn’t go to balls and the like. BUT she also could have made friends at the park while she was out. I don’t get why she didn’t even attempt to make a friend? But aside from that, Ms. MacLean does a fantastic job of showing how alone Lily really is.
Alec is broken inside. He’s suffered the harsh reality of only being wanted for a night, never for life. He’s constantly referred to both in the newspapers, and throughout polite society, as the Scottish Brute. He’s six and a half feet of sexy, studly muscle. But inside, he genuinely believes everything said about him. Alec has good reason for this. A reason I definitely did not see coming. But with such an intense backstory, I wish it had come sooner in the storyline. I know why the author waited to reveal it until so close to the end, but I think if it had been addressed sooner, it could have saved Alec from being so frustrating as a hero. He seriously irritated me with his hot/cold issues.
I like that Lily didn’t write to Alec, that it was the lawyer who called him in. Lily was determined to handle this scandal on her own. She grew up and flourished throughout this book, going from scared and ashamed, to strong and magnificent. With Alec standing behind her, she learned more about who she was, and with the Talbot sisters standing by her side, she learned how to handle new friendships, and how to stand tall amid a scandal. I like that Lily realized the difference between latching on to the first person who shows her affection versus the love and strength that Alec shows her. And most of all, I like that Lily owned her mistake, stood tall amid the scandal, and then went for what she wanted.
This book has all the makings of a break-out story that no one has done before. But parts of it dragged on too long and unfortunately frustrated me. With the hero having such an intense backstory, I feel that he needed more time to come to terms that he wasn’t unworthy of Lily. That being said, I still couldn’t put it down, it was a great story. But I’m sad that I did’t love Alec the way I have MacLean’s other heroes, even that ass Bourne. To me, he was more frustrating than heroic. However Ms. MacLean’s talent for words, and her incredible knack for pulling off amazing plots no one else could touch shine through each page.