Publisher: Ballantine Books
Publication Date: July 27, 2010
Series or Standalone: Stud Club #3
Links: Amazon – Barnes & Noble – Goodreads
CW: Homophobic hate crime, murder, violence
Three Nights With a Scoundrel brings Tessa Dare’s Stud Club series to a close with Lily and Bellamy’s story. While not my favorite in the series, I still really enjoyed this story. It’s hard for me to pinpoint exactly what was missing from this book that kept me from moving it from like to love, but something just didn’t fully click with me to push this over the line.
Everyone wants to be Julian Bellamy, but no one knows the real Julian. After the murder of his friend Leo, the founder of the Stud Club, Julian is determined to find the killer – especially as clues seem to be pointing towards him as the intended victim. Julian’s also willing to do anything to protect Leo’s sister, Lily, who he’s cared for since he first met her but doesn’t view himself as worthy. Julian’s determined to marry her off for her safety, but Lily has other ideas. She’s been waiting for Julian to step up but decides to take matters into her own hands with their relationship.
First off, I really loved that we got a deaf main character, and I thought Dare’s portrayal was respectful. Dare didn’t let Lily’s deafness define her whole personality or overtake the story – it was just a part of who Lily was. Outside of that, I admire how Lily took matters into her own hands in the romance department. Everyone – and I mean EVERYONE – knew Bellamy had a thing for Lily, yet he was too scared to make a move, so finally, Lily takes matters into her own hands. In romance, it’s so frequently the guy who makes the first move, and it was nice to see a lady taking the reins and pushing a relationship forward. This is where Dare really excels in this series – writing characters who go against the grain and the norm of what we traditionally think of in a historical romance.
Now on to Julian Bellamy, who was a little bit all over the place for me. From our previous interactions with him, I knew he was keeping some secrets and had a past that was a bit of a question mark. However, I didn’t expect ALL the secrets he was keeping and the multiple double lives he was leading. It was a bit unexpected, but it was also fun to guess what he was hiding. The one thing about his past I didn’t like was how he viewed it as a barrier to any relationship with Lily, despite Lily saying she’ll take him as he is. It frustrates me a bit in romances when a character throws up these fake barriers because of their past when the other person in the relationship repeatedly states it’s not an issue. Someone always ends up doing stupid because of these preconceived notions as a result, and Julian definitely did something stupid to push Lily away towards the end.
While speaking about romance, this book was definitely steamier than I expected, and I expect some good steam from Dare. I don’t think I’ll look at a piano in a historical romance novel the same way again. Outside of the sexy times, as I mentioned earlier, I loved how Lily took the reins in moving this relationship forward. Julian was so bad at communicating his feelings and emotions in words. Still, he was great in expressing it in other ways, such as gifts like a parrot and looking out for Lily’s wellbeing in social situations. I loved that he knew sign language and never saw Lily’s deafness as a weakness but just a part of her.
As the last book in the Stud Club series, we finally get a wrap-up of the overarching series mystery into who killed Leo. I ended up predicting some of the things that lead to his death as we get more hints into his personality and life in this book through letters that Lily finds hidden away in his desk. It was a tragic ending and, unfortunately, one still that occurs today. My heart was literally breaking as all the pieces came together.
Overall, I thought this was a great ending to the series as it tied together the loose ends from the overarching series plot together seamlessly with the romantic story of Lily and Julian. It’s my second favorite of the three books in the Stud Club series, as I did enjoy One Dance With a Duke more than this one.
As I mentioned at the top of the review, something was missing for me that made this fall short of a love. This is definitely still a fun, enjoyable read, and Dare brings the steam. If you like Dare’s more recent work like Spindle Cove or Girl Meet Duke series, I think you’ll also like this series!