Publication Date: May 24, 2022
Series or Standalone: The Mating Habits of Scoundrels #4
Links: Amazon – Barnes & Noble – Goodreads
CW: Emotional abuse; parental abandonment; cheating; pregnancy
If there is one thing I can count on from Vivienne Lorret, it’s that her books will be fun. How to Steal a Scoundrel’s Heart is no exception. I liked this one – but wow, did it go in a direction I did not expect towards the end. Vivienne Lorret kept me on my toes with what would happen with Leo and Prue’s relationship on their journey towards a happily ever after.
After being ruined, Prudence Thorogood has lost everything, including her inheritance. But she’ll do anything to get her inheritance back, even if it means committing larceny. However, she finds herself ill-suited to theft rather quickly and accepts an offer from Leo Ramsgate, Marquess of Savage, to become his mistress in exchange for him getting her inheritance back. Leo, a known scoundrel, has set rules for his mistresses. His affairs last only four months as he refuses to let his heart get involved. But when it comes to Prue, he’s tempted to break his own rules for her. Meanwhile, Prue is determined to live out her life in the country after getting her inheritance but finds herself slowly giving up her heart to Leo, even though he may never love her back.
The chemistry between Leo and Prue was amazing. As soon as they met, it felt like these two were made for each other. The conversation between them flowed so easily and naturally – it felt like they had known each other for years and were old friends. While Prue approaches Leo to be his mistress, they have a much deeper relationship that goes beyond the bedroom. I loved how when they’re together, the expectations and boundaries of society fall away. There is no place for guilt or shame between them; they can just be themselves.
And for a scoundrel and devoted bachelor, Leo sure doesn’t act like one. He’s so far gone for Prue from the first time he meets her yet is afraid to admit it. I mean, he gives her a nickname right off the bat and throws all his rules out the window for her! I also loved how he’s willing to go at the pace Prue needed with their relationship. She had a negative experience the first time she slept with someone which made her view sex as something to be endured. He takes the physical aspect of their relationship slowly (despite the fact she’s his mistress) and teaches her about passion and desire.
When it comes to the characters, I adored both Prue and Leo. They both have some heavy baggage that they bring into a relationship. For Prue, she’s been abandoned by her family and always treated as an afterthought. Her father, aunts and stepmother constantly belittled her and made her feel like she could do nothing right. Her family cut her out of their lives when she was caught in a compromising situation. To top it all off, they gave away her inheritance. She’s constantly been told she’s inadequate, not perfect and can do nothing wrong. Despite this, she’s somehow the most caring and kind-hearted person. She puts her friends’ feelings above her own and just wants to reclaim what’s hers and live a simple life out in the country. She’s brave, bold, confident and has this air of grace. Her inner strength is amazing, and she surprised me a lot.
Leo was one of my favorite characters in this book. He’s charming, funny, broken and loveable. He plays the role of a scoundrel because he has been hurt too many times in the past by those who are supposed to love him. Both his mother and his ex-fiance caused some damage that made him put up walls when it comes to his relationship. His father was also a piece of work, so Leo has strict rules and contracts when it comes to his mistresses. He’s afraid to let anyone in too closely, and at the first sign of deeper feelings, he’s out. He doesn’t want to be hurt. Prue up-ends all that for him, and he’s willing to do whatever it takes to keep her safe and make her happy. He doesn’t even realize he’s doing it half the time – he’s so far gone for this woman, and I loved it!
Outside Prue and Leo, we have a FANTASTIC villain character in Viscount Marlow. Like seriously, this man is a scheming, terrible, smarmy VILLAIN. He even gives a villainous monologue at one point. At one point, I found myself yelling at Prue not to trust this man as he’s just that manipulative. We also get a great scheming woman with Lady Sutton, Leo’s would-be mistress. Lady Sutton and Viscount Marlow together cause a lot of drama, and it feels so over the top but it is so freaking fun to watch.
Lorret kept me on my toes while reading when it came to the plot. Just when I thought I knew where this book would be going, she took it in a different direction around the 60% mark. And then the ending was WILD! I honestly did not see any of it coming and found myself devouring this book to see what would happen next. The final act of this book gave me old-school romance vibes as we get a dramatic evil plot that throws the drama into the relationship, and I’m here for it.
How to Steal a Scoundrel’s Heart was another fantastic entry in The Mating Habits of Scoundrels series! And this is not the last book like I thought it was! I’m a little hesitant about Meg’s book given what’s revealed in the epilogue, but I’m glad we’ll get to spend more time with all these characters. The series is so dang fun, and I definitely recommend picking them up!
Quick side note – what’s up with the poorly photoshop dog on the cover? There is literally no dog in this until the very end. Prue does use the phrase “Oh Pekingese” as a curse, but there is no physical dog that plays a significant role in the story. It’s a very odd choice for the cover and so distracting!
Thank you to Avon/Netgalley for the ARC. All thoughts, ideas and opinions expressed in this review are my own.