This is a nice follow up to Vicky’s How To Marry a Duke. While I found duke to be witty with a lot of comedy elements, Scoundrel is more like an emotional rollercoaster. It is set about 9-10 months after the previous book at the beginning of the next season. The story starts with Tristan (hero from Duke) asking Hawk (as introduced in the previous book) to watch over his sister Julianne (also in previous book) for the season (due to Tessa – Duke’s heroine, is having a baby).
Julianna hasn’t changed much from the previous book, she is still impish and a bit immature. You find out more in the book regarding her insecurities stemming from her father’s rejection and how it colors all her actions. There were times I just wanted to shake her because of how she handled a situation, which made things worse. While she wears her emotions, she also hardens herself from even taking chances from fear of getting hurt. It is only over the course of the book that she can learn to actually love like a woman instead of girlish fantasy.
As for Hawk, he is a man who has deep remorse for his actions. He understands that he continues to hurt people (his mother and sisters) but is so caught up in his grief and remorse of his youthful actions that he cannot stop the endless of cycle. He clearly feels he can never overcome this single incident and does not deserve to. Hence why he also feels he can never act on his feelings for Julianne. Not only would it hurt his relationship with his family, but he feels completely unworthy of not only being happy but of being loved. By the end of the book (and through my entire 2nd reading) Hawk is the type of man that woman should want
While a deep dark secret that the hero has to overcome in his past stereotypical line for a romance novel, it is pulled of here with such emotion that tissues should be kept at hand. For about the last 20% of the book you watch Hawk not only confront his past but move on from it, while also getting a 2nd chance at what he never thought he would have. It is absolutely heart wrenching and the way he handles the entire situation underscores the type of person Hawk is.
It is not until these scenes that the reader understands why Julianne and Hawk had to tear apart their relationship in order to get their happily ever after. The Julianna at the beginning of the book would never had understood or accepted Hawk’s secret. She had to have her childhood ideals of him destroyed so she could see him as he is, a flawed man who’s made mistakes and needing helping moving forward from them. Her dellusions must come down in order for her to mature and be the person who helps him move forward. And you can watch Julianne change, look at her actions, and the consequences of them and both accept those consequences and try to prevent them.
I also adored the Character of Aunt Hester. For those that read Duke, she is the meddling busybody character that Tristan’s mother was. She was a perfect balance between Hawk and Julianne and I hope to see more of her in the next book.
I have read this novel twice, once before Duke and once after. While it can be read all by itself, the characters of the book have much more depth and come to life if you already know what goes on in the previous novel (as almost all the characters show up in Duke)