A GENTLEMAN NEVER SURRENDERS by Lauren Smith
(September 12, 2017; Forever Yours eBook; $1.99; Sins and Scandals series Book 2)
Love is worth a little scandal.
Owen Hadley needs a wife. Preferably a wealthy one. Alas, there aren’t a great number of heiresses willing to marry a rogue of no particular fortune—luckily, if there is ever a gentleman capable of melting a lady’s chilly heart, it’s Owen.
Milly has had enough of the marriage mart. If matrimony means giving up her freedom for a foppish husband, then society can take their idea of marital bliss and toss it. But when the ton’s most notorious rogue mistakenly makes his way into her bedchambers, Milly finds herself unexpectedly and unwillingly at the altar . . .
Yet the more time she spends with her new husband, the more Milly starts to wonder if the marriage she never wanted may be the best thing that’s ever happened to her. Now it’s up to Owen to convince Milly that what started as a mistake is anything but—and that every night with him will be more wonderfully scandalous than the last.
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Milly climbed onto the bed and pulled the bedclothes up around her chest and sighed. The bed was so large, and rather lonely. Usually she didn’t let such a melancholy thought bother her, but tonight for some reason, it did. There was a dull ache in her chest and she rubbed the spot with her hand. Somewhere tonight, Mr. Hadley was likely climbing into bed, dreaming of all the young ladies’ hearts he would steal and break. A treacherous little flutter in her chest made Milly wince. She ought not to think of Hadley, certainly not while she was in bed…yet thinking of him, as frustrating and maddeningly irritating as he was, flushed her with a welcome heat in the chilly room.
The oil lamp beside her bed was the only light left in the room and it burned steadily. Often she read late into the night and forgot to turn it off, but tonight she was too tired to read. She reached over and gently twisted the brass knob to kill the little flame. Darkness absorbed the dying light and Milly flipped onto her back. The cold of the sheets almost stung her bare toes and legs when her nightdress rode up to her knees. A cold bed, an empty bed. It shouldn’t have upset her, but after Mr. Hadley’s talk of heat and summer, she was off balance and bothered.
The mere thought of him and the way his eyes had darkened and seemed to shimmer with inner flames brought on another rush of warmth. His eyes, like honeyed fire, and his lips, the way he’d smiled sardonically, almost mockingly, in a way she rather liked, irritated her, yet fascinated her. There was no reason to like a man’s mouth or to imagine what it might be like to have that mouth pressed to hers in a kiss that caused the heat he was so fond of discussing. She knew his kiss would be hot, because when she thought of it, her body blossomed with a swelling of heat in her belly. His mouth is wicked…sinful…and I hate that I wish to know how he tastes. It was a forbidden thought, but one she couldn’t deny. She rolled over onto her stomach, fluffed her pillow, and squeezed her eyes shut, attempting to will herself to sleep. It was going to be a long night.
Owen seems a bit of a cad in the opening chapter as he coolly contemplates what innocent young lady’s reputation he can compromise in order to gain access to her dowry and save his estate, but we soon learn that he is not as bad as he initially seems. While Owen was off fighting a war, his family’s estate and his beloved childhood home fell into a state of disrepair after his father’s death. Now he must find a way to save the place that holds so many wonderful memories for him and supports the local economy with its farming activities. When his best friend Leo suggests Owen attend his house party with a specific young lady in mind to help Owen’s cause, he reluctantly agrees.
Milly has had the good fortune to travel to France to be educated where she had a glimpse of a different kind of life- one where women are treated as chattel to be bargained off to the highest bidder in return for a man’s financial gain and where their intelligence is actually valued rather than squashed. She has built up a prickly demeanor with the ability to cut down any man’s interest as her suit of armor to avoid the fate afforded to so many ladies her age, and she counts herself as fortunate that her father will not force her to marry. Her younger sister just came out into society and is much more innocent, so when Milly sees fortune hunter Owen Hadley eyeing Rowena like a piece of meat that is the answer to his prayers she knows she has to step in to run interference.
Fate steps in to lead Owen into the wrong room at night, and suddenly Milly finds herself in the middle of her worst nightmare as she is forced to marry him. They may have mixed like oil and water when they encountered each other in the past, but they are about to find out they have more in common than they ever realized. Owen faces an uphill battle, but he is determined to have an amicable marriage at the least while hoping for something much more when he is afforded little glimpses of the real Milly who lives behind the armor. She is fiery, intelligent and passionate despite her fears about him breaking her heart. Milly is startled to find that Owen’s estate is the reason behind his desperate quest for funds, and the more she gets to know him the more he continues to surprise her while breaking down her preconceived notions by not conforming to the societal norms of men of the peerage.
A Gentleman Never Surrenders was a really enjoyable read filled with heart, heat, love and humor. I really enjoyed seeing Milly let go of her anger and hurt to free the wild streak she has inside with Owen’s help, and Owen’s redemption from his actions in the first book of the series was well done. This second book of the series was much better than the first in my opinion and it provides a few hours of fun entertaining distraction from the real world.
About the Author
LAUREN SMITH, winner of the 2014 Historical International Digital Award, attended Oklahoma State University, where she earned a B.A. in both history and political science. Drawn to paintings and museums, Lauren is obsessed with antiques and satisfies her fascination with history by writing and exploring exotic, ancient lands. She is currently an attorney in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
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