Prelude to a Scandal by Delilah Marvelle
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
A very quirky romance. At the outset of the book, Lady Justine's family is laboring under a bit of a scandal--her father, a naturalist, took his family to South Africa where he apparently went on Big Gay Al's Big Gay Boat Ride and came back to Regency England saying that it's OK to be gay. But Regency England wasn't quite ready for such a progressive attitude, and between "conspiracy to promote buggery" and, of course, debt her father is imprisoned. She offers her body to her father's patron, the Duke (10 points!) of Bradford, in exchange for her father's freedom. He offers to marry her instead.
According to the introductory material, Marvelle was taken by the idea of writing an historical romance where the hero is (in modern terms) a sex addict, which is a genuinely interesting concept. Unfortunately, the implementation is tricky. Bradford is trying to cure himself of sex addiction by cold-turkey celibacy; this doesn't combine well with marriage, and he starts acting like a douche. But in Justine he gets someone who calls him on his crap and encourages him to be a better man, which is probably the best part of this story. The end of the book dissolves into sheer stupidity.
I'm not sure what to make of this book, actually. Marvelle's a pretty wretched stylist (though nowhere near as bad as Cheryl Holt), but the plot of this book is pretty readable and interesting--up until the point where I wanted to throw it against the wall, that is.
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