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Thursday, July 22, 2010

Review - - Three Nights with a Scoundrel

Three Nights with a Scoundrel
The Stud Club – Book #3
By Tessa Dare
Publisher: Ballantine
Release Date: July 27, 2010







About halfway through Tessa Dare’s first book, Goddess of the Hunt, I thought to myself, “This woman is going to be a Star in the world of Romance Fiction.” Apparently others agreed because her second book, Surrender of a Siren (my favorite of the first trilogy) is a finalist for the coveted RITA® award at next week’s RWA National Conference. By the time I had finished the first two books in Dare’s new, and exquisitely written, Stud Club trilogy, I knew two things: the Star had arrived… and I didn’t like Julian Bellamy…at all. After devouring five of Dare’s books like a bag of Peanut M&M’s after a three-month diet, I found myself dreading Three Nights with a Scoundrel. I knew with absolute certainty that the writing would be lush and lyrical, the story sensual and compelling, the heroine likeable and the hero, sadly, would be the first of Dare’s with whom I would not fall in love.

I was wrong.



Born a bastard and reared in filth and poverty, Julian Bellamy now sets the standard of fashion for well-to-do young bucks of London. Arrogant, colorful and, seemingly, uncaring of what anyone else thinks, he systematically seduces his way through the wives of the rich and powerful men of London…or at least he did, until 5 months ago when his best friend, Leo Chatwick, Marquess of Harcliffe and founder of the exclusive Stud Club, was murdered. Convinced that he was the real target that night because of his secret, sordid past, Julian becomes obsessed with two things: finding, and dispatching the culprits, and protecting Leo’s twin sister, Lily, the woman for whom he has always felt much more than friendship but who can never be his.

Independent and pragmatic, Lily Chatwick has never let her loss of hearing from an illness determine the course of her life. An expert lip-reader, she's been able to navigate the waters of the ton with her brother's help though she’s always been happiest at home, with close friends and with her ledgers and accounts.  She's always counted Julian Bellamy among her friends though lately he’s been driving her crazy with his obsession of finding Leo’s killers and trying to marry her off, for her protection, but when an injured Julian is unceremoniously dumped upon her doorstep, Lily determines to put a stop to his reckless behavior before she’s forced to deal with his death too. She agrees to consider suitors among the gentlemen of the ton but only if Julian promises to assist her as her escort for three nights of her choosing, during which time she hopes to reclaim her friend and save him from his self-destructive ways.  But the rules change when Julian comes face to face with his jealousy over Lily’s appeal to other gentlemen and Lily's eyes are finally opened to the reason for the intensity between them. 

     So prescient of her parents, giving her that name. L-sounds were among the easiest to lip-read. The trouble was, the shape of her name always looked a bit silly to her. Especially with her honorific attached: “Lady Lily.” Two ls were bad enough, but three were ridiculous. All that tongue-flapping made her want to giggle.
     But when Julian spoke her name, it never looked like a joke to her. No, it looked vaguely…naughty. Sensual, not silly. She’d always loved watching her name on his lips.
     Always.
The word seeped down into her bones, into her soul, where it simply…fell into place. Like the moment of triumph she felt after scouring a ledger a dozen times and finally finding the six shillings unaccounted for, in the column where she’d mistaken a seven for a one. At last, it all made sense – all the quarreling and worrying and strange tingling that resulted from his touch. This explained why he’d grown so inordinately protective of her, and why the sight of his blood on her fingertips had thrown her into absolute panic. Because he’d always wanted her this way. And deep down – so far deep down she hadn’t even been fully aware of it until this moment – she’d always desired him, too.

Dare is superbly talented at drawing vivid pictures with her writing, as shown in the excerpt above and throughout the book, such as the scene in the piano room (one I won't be forgetting anytime soon).  With a few well-chosen words, she places me into Lily's mind and heart - what she feels, I feel - but she saves her best work for Julian.  It's through his deep, heartfelt, sometimes incredibly poignant thoughts and actions that I fell in love with the man I had deemed least likely to win my heart.  That's not to say he isn't a bad boy.  He most definitely is and he certainly has some lessons to learn but, when the plumage is stripped away and the attitude checked at the door, if he can finally allow himself to trust Lily, trust her strength and their love for one another, enough to let her see the man he really is, then he'll become a man who is worthy of a great love...one that doesn't come easily or without cost but one that, once won, will last a lifetime.

While Julian and Lily's story is the primary focus of  Three Nights with a Scoundrel, there are important secondary stories that are resolved in the book.  We catch up with the couples from the previous two books (I loved the scenes with Spencer, Rhys and Julian and the evolving dynamic of the trio), learn the outcome of Claudia's "situation" (shameless begging for her to get a book of her own!) and finally learn who killed Leo and why...in a heartbreaking twist that I didn't see coming at all, written by Dare with an incredible depth of realism and compassion.    

I highly recommend all three of the books in the Stud Club trilogy but it's Three Nights with a Scoundrel that stole my heart and I won't be one bit surprised if it steals yours too.

The Stud Club books, in order, are:  One Dance with a Duke, Twice Tempted by a Rogue and Three Nights with a Scoundrel.

~PJ


  


19 comments:

  1. I have the whole first trilogy now and so looking forward to read! I probably will be reading them close together. I got this new trilogy on the wishlist too. Its been beautiful reading about these books, so much of what I love about historical romances seems to stand out in her books. You did an awesome review here, wow. You never know where a story is going to take you and you never know all about the other characters until you know their WHOLE story, inside and out. Seems thats so what this book did for you. I remember chatting with a group and a girl was skipping book 2 because she didn't like the character in the first book. She never gave her a try. I too wasn't happy with her, but when I read her book, I so understood her history and her hurt and why she was who she was. Too, I learned that they are who they are just because! You can't love everything but you end up realizing thats so who that person is and can't change it to what others want her/him to be. I'm babbling! Loved reading your review!

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  2. Great Review!! I sure have heard so many good things about this series, and I just can't wait to get my hands on this one!!!

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  3. An A+ review, PJ! You make me want to reread the entire trilogy. i agree that Julian is a fascinating hero. He reminds me of another favorite hero, Derek Craven from Lisa Kleypas’s Dreaming of You, but with a deeper connection to humanity—a difference that makes sense given that Julian knew a mother’s love. And Lily is my favorite of Tessa's heroines, although Meredith from Twice Tempted by a Rogue is a very close second. TD evokes Lily's perceptions so beautifully too. I can't wait to see what TD has in store for us next.

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  4. Great review PJ! I am definitely looking forward to Three Nights. Tessa has set up Lily and Julian's story so well in the first two books, and I can't wait for the payoff!

    I agree with you, Julian wasn't exactly likeable in the first two books at times, but I was intrigued by his prior relationship/friendship with Leo and Lily, and I wanted to know more about him. And I wanted to know what else besides guilt is driving his hunt for Leo's killer. But as you said, I think figuring out how he lets his guard and facade down to trust Lily and really love her and let her in will be the most fun of all!

    And you've definitely intrigued me-what piano scene??!!

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  5. Caffey, you have some wonderful reading ahead! Dare's command of the English language reminds me a bit of Eloisa James. Like James, Dare's words flow like a beautiful symphony on paper.

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  6. LoverofRomance, I hope you enjoy the books. Dare's writing becomes more exquisite with each book she writes. I can't wait to see what she has in store for us next!

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  7. Thanks, Janga! I really had to work for this review. There was so much I wanted to say! lol!

    Good comparison between Julian and Derek Craven! That connection to humanity surprised me. There are hidden depths to Julian that I never would have guessed.

    I also agree with you about Lily. She and Merry are my two favorite Dare heroines as well.

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  8. Lisa, all questions are answered in the book!

    Ahhh...the piano scene. How I'd love to tell you all about it but that would be a spoiler. Besides, you'll have much more fun reading it yourself! ;-)

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  9. I feel better now PJ...b/cse I feel the same way about Julian. He just gets on my nerves! I'm almost done with "Twice", so now I'm looking forward to "Three" after your review.

    I also agree that Tessa is a fabulous writer!

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  10. PJ, I love Tessa's writing---you're so right with your comparison to EJ. I haven't read this new trilogy, but I look forward to reading them all back to back.

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  11. Hey PJ! You've sold me. I'm a total series gal - and this trilogy has to be put on my list. Thanks!

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  12. You were spot on, PJ. Tessa Dare is romance's newest star and one that will be burning bright for years to come. Have all the books in this series and will devouring them in short order as soon as I clear a spot for some great romance reading.

    I love the way I reward myself!

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  13. I hope you enjoy it, Colleen! Julian not only redeemed himself with me but he's turned out to be one of my favorite Dare heroes.

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  14. Gannon, you have some terrific reading ahead!

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  15. Maria, I think this trilogy is right up your alley. Have you read Dare's first trilogy yet?

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  16. Make sure you don't have any distractions, Santa. Once you start these books you will not want to put them down!

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  17. PJ - I hang my head in shame... Haven't yet read Dare, but, after this review, I will be changing that. :)

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  18. Great review! I truly and easily loved all the heroes in Tessa's first trilogy. But this trilogy's heroes are definitely darker and more intense. I actually felt the same level of initial dislike (you felt for Julian) for Spencer in One Dance With a Duke - I remember at one point thinking he was "odious". But Tessa does a beautiful job of giving her characters such depth and honor and grace that eventually you fall in love with even the very-annoying Spencer. Ha. It's a gift she has, truly, along with her lyrical poetic writing that turns words into flowing gorgeous dances. Looking very forward to Lily & Julian's story.

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  19. This series is on my Wish List. If you have not seen her video for this series, you really should. She did it herself using her children's toys and it is really cute. Never thought GI Joe, Barbie, Ken, My Little Pony, etc. would do for a romance video, but it works.
    Great review.

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