By Lorraine Heath
Release Date: March 30, 2021
Series or Standalone: Once Upon a Dukedom #1
Links: Amazon – Barnes & Noble – Goodreads
I was so excited to have a spinoff series of the Sins for All Seasons series and I knew I was going to enjoy this. What shocked me was just how much I enjoyed this – it far surpassed my expectations.
If you read Beauty Tempts the Beast, you’ll recognize Griffith Stanwick, one of Althea’s older brothers. In Scoundrel of My Heart, we get his story. This book starts off before the actions of Beauty Tempts the Beast and before Griffith’s father, the Duke of Wolfford, is stripped of his title due to his treasonous actions. Griff is the second son, the spare, and as such has lived a life of reckless abandonment filled with drinking, gambling and women. Lady Kathryn Lambert has known Griff for years as she’s friends with his sister Althea. They constantly butt heads as she thinks he’s the epitome of everything wrong with second sons. Lady Kathryn needs to marry a titled gentleman as a stipulation to earn her inheritance – a cottage left to her by her grandmother – as her family hates that her Uncle, a scoundrel and wastrel, is set to inherit everything and her grandmother thought a titled gentleman would care and provide better for her. When Griff’s father is found guilty of treason and his family striped off all titles, holdings and wealth, Griff sets out on a new course – opening a club for those without titles looking to socialize and meet others – and Lady Kathryn has a bone to pick.
Along with everything going on in Lady Kathryn and Griff’s life, we also have the Duke of Kingsland who is looking for a duchess and seeking all eligible ladies to send him a letter to apply and he’ll choose his wife from there. Lady Kathryn gets chosen, even though she doesn’t send in a letter – Griff does on her behalf. Lady Kathryn should be thrilled to be courted by the Duke of Kingsland as he’s titled, rich and would allow her to earn her inheritance – but she can’t get her friend’s older brother out of her head.
As soon as I started reading this, I was hooked. I don’t normally consider myself a fan of the friend’s older brother trope in romance, but this one was done so well! I loved how Griff didn’t really tease Kathryn, more like push the buttons that he knew would get her fired up. I also loved how much he was able to see how valuable, smart and capable she was, even if she didn’t see it in herself. It was so much fun too seeing Griff in his glory before the actions of Beauty Tempts the Beast. Yes, he was definitely a scoundrel but he was a fun, light-hearted one. The chemistry between him and Lady Kathryn was simmering under the surface and I loved watching it get teased out. Also, knowing what was to come for Griff in the beginning was super fun as you knew a huge hurdle was about to be thrown in Lady Kathryn’s and Griff’s way. I also really enjoyed Lady Kathryn – I loved how she wasn’t afraid to speak her mind and would call Griff on his actions. When she walked into the Fair and the Spare for the first time, I felt like cheering her on and loved how she took on Griff. That scene, man. The chemistry.
Honestly, there were a lot of things and different layers to this book, and I loved all of it! I literally stayed up until nearly 3am the first night reading it as I got hooked and lost in this story. The romance was amazing and I really felt like these characters went on a journey together – they were so different from when they started and both really brought out the best in each other. I will say, I felt the whole reason that Lady Kathryn felt she needed to marry a lord was a bit ridiculous – and I’m glad she came to realize that too – but it did add a nice extra element to the story with the courtship of the Duke of Kingsland. And the fact that Griff kept trying to force the courtship was also so much fun – so many tugging at your heartstrings as he thinks he’s doing what’s best for her but dooming his own heart.
I’m really interested in what book two will bring as we’ll be getting the Duke of Kingsland story. Despite him being a roadblock to Kathryn and Griff’s love story, I’m really interested in diving more into his backstory. He’s so practical and buttoned up that it will be really exciting to get into this head and see what leaves him undone.
If you’re a fan of the Sins for All Seasons series, you’re definitely going to like this one! We also get some nice cameos from the Trewlove clan that had me smiling from ear to ear. I can’t say much more beyond the fact that I loved this one – it was everything I wanted in a romance and it exceeded my expectations. I literally got hooked while reading it and have felt a book hangover since I finished it. Cannot wait for book two!