Prelude to a Scandal is a charming and witty entry in Delilah Marvelle’s new Scandal Series. Lady Justine Fedora Palmer has agreed to marry the Duke of Bradford in exchange for his financial and political assistance in getting her father, the sixth Earl of Marwood, out of debtor’s prison. The Earl, a naturalist, had been given an exorbitant fine for breaking the “decency” laws by publishing a book about animal mating habits as witnessed by him in Africa.
Justine is a great heroine; she’s educated, somewhat of a liberal thinker for her time and devoted to her family. She’s also secretly been attracted to the Duke, one of her father’s staunchest supporters, for the last two years. Desperate to get her father out of prison she secretly writes to the Duke and offers to become his mistress in exchange for financial help, she is surprised and delighted when he proposes marriage instead, although there are some unusual terms – they won’t see each other until the wedding. Justine agrees to the terms and after her father’s release from prison they do marry.
Radcliff Edwin Morton, the fourth Duke of Bradford, is an interesting hero, he’s known Justine since her family came back from Africa and has been attracted to her for the last 2 years but was rejected as a suitor by the Earl due to his reputation as a “Notorious Lord of Pleasure” or “The Rake Extraordinaire”, a title given to him by the ladies of the ton. The truth is that Radcliff suffers from “sexual addiction” and for the last eight months he’s been in seclusion in his home due to an incident that made him realize he needs to change. Radcliff is now desperate to become a good man and hopes that marrying Justine will help him to get rid of his sexual problem.
The scenes between Justine and Radcliff are highly entertaining, the dialogue is witty and the amount of romantic tension is just right. Radcliff is very honest with Justine about his sexual issues in hopes that she will be both accepting and helpful, Justine is open minded enough to understand his dilemma and wants to help but she’s not sure of how to do this and is somewhat hampered by two things, her desire for romantic love and a little red book titled “How To Avoid A Scandal”, a book for young ladies in London’s society that is a guide to “proper” behavior and deportment.
Both Justine and Radcliff love each other but neither is willing to admit it at first and Radcliff has some issues with saying “I love you” due to his parents and their relationship. As they spend time together, the romance and love between them grows. Their path is not smooth though mostly due to the antics and behavior of the secondary characters.
The secondary characters are also entertaining and enjoyable. Carlton, Radcliff’s half brother, and his mistress, Matilda, are the antagonists in the story and their sub story proves to be a crucial catalyst to several events that take place in the story. Justine’s parents also provide some interesting scenes.
The plot moves at a good pace and I was very pleased with how the story concluded and closed the open storylines. Overall this is a very good start for the series and I look forward to reading the next book, Once Upon a Scandal.
Marriage is NOT the end of desire.
THE BATTLE BETWEEN LADY AND RAKE IS ABOUT TO BEGIN...
Lady Justine is willing to trade her good name, her reputation and her place in London's gossip-hungry ton, to secure her father's release from prison. But when the notorious Duke of Bradford counters her offer with a proposal of marriage, the stakes grow higher still. For while the smoldering lord is famous for his conquests, the man is oblivious to both her devotion and her charms. And Justine is soon afraid she has wagered all for naught...
A red little book by an unknown author.
Three unlikely couples...and scandal galore.
Look for the rest of the scandal series!
ARE YOU READY TO BE SCANDALIZED?