How the Scoundrel Seduces (The Duke's Me ...

How the Scoundrel Seduces (The Duke's Men #3) by Sabrina Jeffries book review

Aug 15, 2020

The third deliciously sexy novel in the New York Times bestselling Duke's Men historical romance series, featuring an investigator who sets out to find gypsies— and unexpectedly finds love.

Investigator Tristan Bonnaud has one aim in life— to make sure that his half-brother George can't ever ruin his life again. So when the pesky Lady Zoe Keane, the daughter of the Earl of Olivier, shows up demanding that the Duke's Men find a mysterious gypsy woman, he seizes the opportunity to also hunt for a gypsy friend who knows secrets about George. Tristan doesn't expect to uncover Lady Zoe's family secrets, as well... or end up falling for the woman who will risk all to discover the truth. 

Towards the end of the previous book, When the Rogue Returns, Dom and Tristan were working an investigation involving a theft and kidnapping when they were literally stumbled upon by the spirited Lady Zoe Keane. In return for keeping quiet and beating a hasty retreat, Zoe secured Dom’s promise that she could call in a favour sometime – and at the beginning of this book, that time has come.

Zoe is a rather unusual heiress. The only child of the Earl of Olivier, she is one of the few women in England who is able to inherit her father’s title and property and she will be a Countess in her own right. But that is part of the problem and the reason she needs the help of Manton Investigations.

For Zoe’s aunt has let slip that she isn’t actually the daughter of the earl and his late wife, but the daughter of a gypsy woman who sold her baby to the childless couple – and Zoe needs to know the truth. If what her aunt has said is untrue, then nothing needs to change, but if it is true, then she needs to find out, and, just as importantly find out who else knows about it. Matters are complicated by the fact that her cousin – who is next in line for the title after Zoe – is shortly to arrive from America, and it may be necessary for Zoe to marry him.

Tristan is a charming scoundrel who has, sworn off love because of the misery it ultimately caused his mother. But he cares deeply for those few who are close to him, and would do anything for them. He is not fond of the aristocracy given the treatment meted out to him and his family at the hands of his half-brother George and his own father’s irresponsibility, which accounts for his cynicism over Zoe’s concern for her estate, making it clear he believes her to be interested only in monetary gain rather than in her responsibilities towards her tenants and estate workers.

Tristan senses Zoe doesn’t like him, and takes great delight in needling her. Panicked by the almost overwhelming feelings of attraction she is experiencing toward him, Zoe decides she absolutely does not want Tristan involved in her case. But he grew up around Romany gypsies, is familiar with their customs and can speak their language, so he is ideally placed to get the information Zoe needs. The fact that it will enable Tristan to secretly pursue an inquiry of his own is an added attraction. For years, he’s wanted revenge against his half-brother George for robbing him of his inheritance and having his mother and sister evicted from their home on the Rathmoor estate. 

There’s plenty of chemistry between the two leads, and they’re practically unable to keep their hands off each other from the get-go, which means that the romance feels a little underdeveloped in the early stages of the book. Tristan has made a point of never dallying with “ladies”, preferring instead to seek his pleasures with women who know what the score. But Zoe is proving the exception – he knows he shouldn’t want her, but he does, even to the point of considering marriage for the first time in his life.  
It's a nice story. 

But it wasn't great.I wasn't that enamoured of the characters. I found Tristan one-dimensional and Zoe, strong and intelligent, could have done better. Cousin Keane has some great possibilities!

In the end there wasn't anything truly remarkable about their tale. 

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