Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Andrea's Perfect Scoundrel

Today is my wedding anniversary, so I figured it was a perfect time to tell you about my favorite fictional bad boy hero: Saint. This blog was first published over at Romance Novel TV, but I wanted to share it with all of our Romance Dish readers...especially Deb as I know she loves Saint as much as I do. *g* WARNING: this blog contains spoilers if you haven't read London's Perfect Scoundrel by Suzanne Enoch. And if you haven't, what are you waiting for?!?!

Andrea’s Perfect Scoundrel

London’s Perfect Scoundrel. I couldn’t think of a more aptly named title for this extraordinary book by Suzanne Enoch. Not that the hero, Saint, is perfect. But he is perfectly sinful, perfectly wicked, perfectly delicious, and thus, a perfect scoundrel...and my all-time favorite bad boy hero. Suzanne Enoch’s story shows how one completely immoral man slowly transforms into a gentleman because of the determination and love of one incredible woman. Here’s a small (okay, maybe a little bit more than small) taste of why I have such strong love for this book and its hero.

“My dear, Saint doesn’t have to be good because he is so very...very bad.” – Lady Gladstone

“It amazes me, Saint, that you can own so few redeemable qualities and still be so likable.” – Prince George

“Why does everyone call him Saint?” – Evelyn Ruddick
“Besides the obvious? I imagine he finds it...amusing, since he’s about the furthest thing from a saint there is without taking hell into account.” – Viscount Dare

“I wonder that anyone tolerates him at all.” – Mrs. Ruddick
“Probably because he doesn’t pretend to be anything other than what he is.” – Evelyn Ruddick

“I believe it’s just that the expectations for me are so low, I can’t help but amaze.” – Lord St. Aubyn

Michael Halboro, Marquis of St. Aubyn, or Saint as he’s called, is anything but a saint. Ironic, that. He’s tall, devilishly handsome and extremely wealthy. Everything a girl could hope for, right? Yes, except that he also engages in scandalous affairs (he takes his lovers’ marriage vows as seriously as they do), says shocking things (which often offends the recipient and anyone else within earshot) and wants to raze the orphanage that he’s the chairman of, thus releasing him from the obligation stated in his mother’s will.

It is because of said orphanage, the Heart of Hope, that Saint meets his heroine, Evelyn Marie Ruddick. Evelyn is there to meet with the board of directors in the hopes that she will be allowed to volunteer. She wants to do something useful and worthwhile since her brother, Victor, and her mother think her nothing but an empty-headed girl that they use to help further Victor’s political ambitions. During their first encounter, Saint shows just how depraved he is by mocking, insulting, and not taking Evelyn’s request seriously, as shown in this scene when she was asked to leave.

“Why don’t you want me to volunteer here?” she asked over her shoulder, hearing his boot steps close behind her. “It won’t cost you anything.”

“Until you grow tired of providing puddings and sweets—or until the orphanage has to begin paying for the removal of the children’s rotten teeth.”

“The offer of sweets was only so they would talk to me. I imagine they have little reason to trust adults.”

“My heart weeps at your compassion.”

She faced him, stopping so suddenly on the stairs that he nearly ran into her. St. Aubyn towered over her, but she refused to look away from the scoundrel’s arrogant, cynical expression. “I didn’t think you had a heart, my lord.”

He nodded. “I don’t. It was a figure of speech. Go home, Miss Ruddick.”

“No. I want to help.”

“First of all, I doubt you know the first thing about what the brats and this building might need.”

“How could—”

“And in the second place,” he continued in a quieter voice, moving one step down so that her face was level with his crotch, “I can think of a place where you’d be much more useful.”

Heat rose in Evie’s face, but she refused to back away. “And where might that be?”

“In my bed, Miss Ruddick.”

This is how I picture Saint...
Despite his insults, Saint is attracted to Evelyn and agrees to let her help out...but not without stipulations. He will oversee all that she does and ultimately approve or disapprove of specific changes. He is certain that he can wear her down and eventually bring her to the point where she will beg for his caress, though the question is why he would want to. He admits to himself that any of his former lovers would laugh if they knew he was hard for a virginal chit. So, he uses his proviso to his advantage and continues to try to shock her, including constantly calling her Evelyn Marie (which I loved!).

“Why are you cleaning out the storage rooms?”

“To make classrooms.” Her fine brows furrowed. “Did you listen at all to my proposal?”


“No? But—”

“Evelyn Marie,” he said in a low voice, wishing the flock of chickens [women] was elsewhere so he could taste her honeyed mouth again, “you’re not here because of your proposal.”

Her scowl deepened. “Then why—”

“You’re here because of my proposition.”

“I told you that you wouldn’t frighten me away, my lord.”

“Saint,” he corrected. “Have you ever seen a man naked and aroused with wanting you?”

A deep blush stole up her cheeks. “”

“You will.” Unable to stop himself, he reached out to touch her cheek. “The things I will teach you, Evelyn, aren’t lectured about in classrooms. And you’ll beg me to teach you more.”

Her mouth opened and closed again. “Go away,” she finally commanded in a quavering voice. “I will not be seduced by you.”

“Not today.”

Evie doesn’t give in to Saint as easily as he thinks she will. She gives as good as she takes and gradually starts to throw him off balance by asking him personal questions such as what his Christian name is, about his mother, and his life now. He tries to change the subject by artfully relieving her pearl pendant necklace right from her neck. When she questions how, he replies, “You should see me unfasten a gown.” He then tells her she must ask for it back at that evening’s soirĂ©e (which he found himself attending more since making the acquaintance of Evelyn) in front of others. By this point, Evie is getting flustered, but she manages to do it, with style.

Best to get it over with then. “Lord Dare mentioned that you’d found a necklace at the Hanson soiree. I think it may be mine. May I see it?”

His lips twitched. “Yes, I discovered it in the punch bowl,” he said smoothly, and reached into his pocket. “Would this be it?”

Evie felt faint with relief. “Oh, thank you so much, my lord,” she gushed, before he could even produce the thing for her inspection. “It’s my favorite piece, and I thought I’d never find it.” She held out her hand.

Saint stepped behind her. “Allow me.”

Before she could do more than gulp and flush bright red, the marquis slid the cool chain around her throat and fastened it. His fingers brushed the hairs at the back of her neck as he leaned closer. “Well done, Evelyn Marie,” he murmured into her hair. “Now smile and say ‘thank you, Saint,’ or I’ll kiss your ear.”

If her heart beat any faster, it would burst from her chest. She gave a friendly smile to the air. “Thank you again, Saint. That was quite thoughtful of you.”

“You arouse me,” he whispered, “and you’ll pay for that.”

...or maybe like this. *g*
I absolutely love that Saint says exactly what is on his mind, and the more scandalous, the better! I also loved that at the end of that scene, Evie finds out that Saint replaced her pearl pendant with a diamond. And we see that his armor is starting to crack a bit. Even he is amazed. Him, lusting after an angel. No doubt both God and the devil were laughing at him. And then all hell breaks loose when Evie finds out about Saint’s plans to demolish the orphanage. She confronts him and he tells her to leave. While saying good-bye to the children, they come up with a madcap idea . . . that just might work. Evie manages (quite seductively) to get Saint to follow her to the “cellar” so they can have some privacy. But when they get close, Saint gets hit from behind and wakes up chained to the wall in the dungeon (the orphanage used to be military barracks). Now Evie has the upper hand and gives Saint some food for thought.

“You’re just like all of the other men in my life, you know.”

Whatever she meant by that, it sounded insulting. “No, I’m not.”

“Yes, you are. Victor sends me to talk to disgusting old men because they think I’m charming. He doesn’t care if I have to lie to them about how interesting I find them, or whether the stupid political teas he makes me are useless and worthless and make me very . . . nervous. And you—you’re worse.”

“Do tell.”

“You only let me into the orphanage because you thought it would give you the chance to lift my skirts. You’re handsome, and exciting, and . . . enticing, but I do have a mind, you know. You don’t know me, and you don’t know these children who depend on you for their lives. All you care is that it’s inconvenient.”

His angel certainly had a mouth on her. He would never have expected it, but at the moment he didn’t much appreciate it. “Are you finished?” he snapped.

“Not yet. As of this moment, nothing is inconvenient for you. You now have all the time in the world. And someone else gets to judge whether you should be let loose into Society again or not.” She stood. “And ponder this, Lord St. Aubyn. If you never reappear, will anyone even miss you?”

During his week (yes, a whole week!) spent in the dungeon, Saint does a lot of soul searching and comes to some harsh realizations about himself, one of which is the fact that he really has absolutely no one to call “friend”. He manages to escape, but not before he finally succeeds in seducing the tempting Evelyn, which only brings up more realizations, such as the fact that Evelyn Marie Ruddick is unlike anyone he’s ever met and the only woman that has wanted him, not something from him. Along with appreciation comes admiration and respect. So when Evelyn’s family wants her to marry Mr. Clarence Alvington because of his family’s political connections, Saint will do anything in his power to make sure Evelyn has a choice. And if he wants any chance to spend time with Evelyn, Saint knows that he needs to behave like a gentleman. It was quite endearing because he tries so hard and starts worrying about saying the right things.

“You’ve...picked a lovely day for our outing,” she said.

“Are we talking about the weather now?” Saint set the bottle in the grass and took one of the glasses from her, making sure that he brushed her fingers as he did so. It seemed imperative that he touch her every few moments.

“The weather is always a safe topic.”

He took a sip of wine, gazing at her over the rim of the glass. “A ‘safe’ topic. Fascinating.”

Her eyes lowered. “No. It’s dull.”

Evidently he’d said the wrong thing. Being proper was even more difficult than he’d imagined. “No, really. This is new territory for me. Usually by now on a picnic I’m unclothed. Are there other ‘safe’ topics?”

She looked up at him again, suspicion in her clear gaze. “The weather is the safest, being that everyone knows something about it. Fashion is controversial, unless one laments the new decadence of style, and—”

“Decadence. I like decadence.”

Evelyn smiled. “I know. And bemoaning the waltz is safe with the older generation, for the same reason. Also, no one likes Bonaparte, and the Americans are very gauche.”

“So it’s safest to like nothing.”

She hesitated for a moment, taking far too long a swallow of her wine. “And to approve of nothing, and to do nothing.”

“My, my, Evelyn. I had no idea you were a cynic.” He tilted his head, trying to read her expression. “That’s not it, though, is it? That’s just what you say to your brother’s odd selection of political Bedlamites. Because you, my dear, are far more interesting than the dull creation you describe.”

To his surprise, her eyes filled with tears, though the apology for whatever he’d said wrong this time faded on his lips at the sight of her warm smile. Some very uncomfortable things began happening to his nether regions.

“That, Lord St. Aubyn, is a very nice thing you just said.”

He reached into the basket to cover his sudden discomfiture. “How very unusual of me,” he muttered, and produced a sandwich. “Pheasant?”

So he finds himself acting out of character, directly in opposition to his own self-interest, and experiencing emotions he never thought he’d feel. And he actually likes how those new sensations make him feel. He likes how being with Evelyn makes him feel and how doing things for Evelyn makes him feel. He even goes so far as to buy a new orphanage for her and the children when he can’t back out of the deal he made to demolish the old one. And finally, he executes the ultimate surrender by making a very public declaration of love to his heroine.

“I’ve finally realized why they called that damned place the Heart of Hope. Because somehow, someone guessed you and I would meet there, Evelyn Marie.” – Lord St. Aubyn

“I lied to you earlier. I told you that I didn’t have a heart. I do have one. I just didn’t know it until I met you. You are my light. My soul craves you, and I love you with every ounce of the heart you’ve awakened in me. I...I could live without you, but I wouldn’t want to. Will you marry me, Evelyn Marie?” – Michael Edward Halboro, Marquis of St. Aubyn to Evelyn Marie Ruddick in the middle of the Dorchester ball

Oh, how the mighty have fallen! Now, to say that Saint did a complete 180° would be a bit misleading. He is still very much a bad boy...but only for Evelyn. :wink:

London’s Perfect Scoundrel is one of the few books that I have read more than once. I hope I was able to convey some of the love I have for it in my blog. :) Since I featured a historical bad boy hero, I’d like to know who some of your favorite historical bad boy heroes are? Also, do you reread books? If so, which ones?


  1. I do re-read books sometimes. I have re-read all of Constance O Banyon's books because I hunted down all of her back list which I had read before. I couldn't count the times I re-read Gone With the Wind. I don't re-read as much as I used to because I have more new books now to read.

    1. I haven't read a Constance O'Banyon book in a loooooong time! Brings back memories for me. :)

  2. Suzanne Enoch is one of my many favorite authors, I first read one of stories in an anthology and I was hooked from that point on..... Everyone loves a bad boy.

    1. I love her books, too, Dianna. Bram is another of my favorite bad boys. Suzie E sure knows how to write them. ;-)

  3. I'm an Enoch fan too, and I love all the books in the Lessons in Love trilogy, although England's Perfect Hero is the one I've reread most often. I'm looking forward to Taming an Impossible Rogue (March 27) with her newest bad-boy hero.

    Colin Sandhurst, Lord Payne, from Tessa Dare's A Week to Be Wicked is the most recent addition to my list of rakes I adore.

    I'm a big rereader, but I reread less often than I used too before the Internet since my TBR stack, both print and electronic, remains enormous, no matter how fast I read.

    1. Janga, I love the whole trilogy, too. Each was different yet went together so well. I love the emotional intensity in EPH. So sweet. :)

  4. HAHAHAHAHA, Andrea, I love how you and I LOVE Saint!!! I mean, really, who wouldn't love Saint? The lines you chose to share were great examples because those words give the perfect picture of Saint and his whole make-up, his droll sense of humor, his seemingly lack of character, and his truly golden heart. How is it possible to be in love with a fictonal character?? :) SIGH. I am printing off your post today and tucking it away in my copy of LPS!! Hugs to you!

    1. I was hoping you'd like this post! I totally feel you on being in love with a fictional character! At least our husbands don't have to worry. Hahaha! There's something really special about Saint. And I may need to read my copy again real soon. Hugs to you, too!

  5. Darn Andrea! As if my TBR isn't long enough, now I'm going to have to add London's Perfect Soundrel to it! lol

    My vote for favorite bad boy would definitely have to be Lisa Kleypas's Sebastian, Lord St. Vincent. Talk about a man who needs the love of a good woman, lol. What I loved about Devil in Winter is how even though Evie is generally thought of as shy, and easily intimidated, she discovers, to her own surprise as much as anyone else, that she has a core of inner strength, and a steel spine to take charge of her own life and fate,and to fight for Sebastian and the love and life she desperately wants and deserves. As for Sebastian, he is challeneged by a woman who proves to be harder to win over than his other conquests, and finds it in himself to rise to expectations, and find meaning and purpose in his life by utilizing his strengths and skills instead of lazing and wasting his life away.

    I do re-read my books. The ones I go to most often are my NR books, JQ Bridgerton books, and Tessa Dare's books. They are a comfort read for me because I know I'm always in for a good story with engaging characteres. Though my ever growing TBR pile constantly beckons, sometimes you need an oldy but goody.

    1. Lisa, if you don't read any other book I recommend this year, you MUST read LPS. I promise you won't be sorry. A lot of bad boys have come really, really close to Saint (Suzanne Enoch's Bram and Sarah MacLean's Bourne to name a couple), but he still holds my top spot. Sigh.

    2. Oh yeah, Sebastian was my favorite rogue for years! I adored Evie, that girl had hidden spunk and knew how to use it.

  6. Andrea - You did such a splendid job describing this book and why you found it so enjoyable - indeed I have read it and you have made me want to read it again! Well done.

    I find myself most often rereading the old Signet regencies by Mary Balogh, Joan Wolf and Carla Kelly - all real classics in my mind.

    Mary Beth

    1. She did do a beautiful job on writing and describing LPS, didn't she, Mary Beth? Well done, Andrea!!!

    2. Thanks, Mary Beth! It was a labor of love. Soon I'll post a blog about my favorite heroine...or as I like to call her: my fictional BFF. :)

  7. Wow, thanks so much, Andrea! Deb sent me a message suggesting I stop by this morning, and I'm so glad I did -- I never get tired of hearing good things about my characters. *g* That Saint does have a special place in my heart.

    I'm really curious as to how you think Saint will compare to Keating Blackwood (of Taming an Impossible Rogue), though Keating's already kind of on the trail of redemption when we meet him. He is coming from a much darker place than Saint does, though. It'll be an interesting duel.

  8. Thanks for stopping by, Suzanne! And thanks also for Saint. ;-) He is indeed special. Oh, and I am really looking forward to Keating's story!!

  9. Great blog, Andrea! You make me want to curl up with Saint and read his story all over again. And again. And again. :)

    Happy Anniversary!

    1. I know! If it my anniversary, I'd curl up with him, too! lol Thank you!

  10. Great post! I haven't read this book yet, but I plan on doing so ASAP. I have re-read only a couple of books:
    "The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie" by by Jennifer Ashley
    "Dreaming of You" by Lisa Kleypas
    "Slow Heat in Heaven" by Sandra Brown, etc.
    Mostly I re-read when I find book from my favorites shelf in another language I speak. I like to compare
    different translations and, since I prefer paperbacks, I can buy it in case I like the cover. My favorite bad boy is Derek Craven ("Dreaming of You"). I think I'll have to re-read it one more time :)

    1. Natalija, Derek is a TERRIFIC bad boy hero!!! Love him:)

  11. Happy Anniversary, Andrea! Why am I not surprised that you put a picture of Christian Bale in the blog? LOL

    Oh, I love a good re-read, and I have so many I can't choose. One of my favorites, though, is re-reading Nora's Born In trilogy, particularly around this time of year, since it takes place in Ireland. :-)

    1. Thanks, Gannon! And lol, you know me so well. This may shock you (not) but I picture Christian as a lot of heroes. ;-)

  12. Happy Anniversary Andrea )

    I love bad boy and ofcourse Sebastian St. Vincent ;)

    and sometimes i reread book and the book i reread is wallflower of hathaways series by lisa kleypas =D

    1. Thanks, Eli! It's hard to resist a Kleypas hero, isn't it?! *g*

  13. Hi Andrea, Terrific post and I hope you had a great Anniversary! I love a Good Bad Boy! That may sound strange (like a JUMBO/SHRIMP) way of putting it but it's so nice to have a male protagonist who is multifaceted and has room for change. Don't most us us agree is that a reformed rake makes the best husband? However, we also don't want him to chance in too many ways, because that bit of Perfect Scoundrel is what attracted us in the first place. My favorite scoundrels are Lisa Lkeypas' Sebastian St. Vincent, Eliosa's Villiers and Laura Kinsale's Jerveaux.

    1. LOL! Yes, I suppose a "good bad boy" is sort of an oxymoron. But oh, do we love them! Great choices!

  14. Happy Anniversary Andrea! I have a few alltime fave heroes, and Saint is definitely one of mine, too, loved LPS. Bram isr another favorite along with Kleypas' Derek Craven.

    1. Thanks, Pam! You have terrific taste in bad boys. ;-)