How to School Your Scoundrel (A Princess in Hiding Romance)
Penguin / June 3, 2014 / $7.99 print & digital
Princess Luisa has devoted her life to duty, quietly preparing to succeed her father as ruler. Nothing, however, primed her to live on the run, disguised as a personal secretary to a notorious English scoundrel. The earl is just the man to help her reclaim her throne, but Luisa is drawn to her powerful employer in ways she never imagined…
Philip, Earl of Somerton, has spent six years married to a woman in love with another man—he refuses to become a fool due to imprudent emotions ever again. Only, as his carefully laid plans for vengeance falter, fate hands him hope for redemption in the form of a beautiful and determined young princess who draws him into a risky game of secrets, seduction, and betrayal. And while his cunning may be enough to save her life, nothing can save him from losing his heart…
In Juliana Gray's How to School Your Scoundrel, Princess Luisa is the newly crowned head of a small German principality now that her father and husband are murdered. An attempt on her own life has sent her into hiding in England and taking up the post as the chick-in-pants secretary to the very unpleasant Earl of Somerton.
Somerton is inexplicably drawn to “Markham” right from the beginning.
He looked down his long beak at Markham's face—that delicate young face, those quiet brown eyes, why did they affect him so?
Somerton comes to rely upon Markham as a kind of ethical and moral touchstone. Somerton, a cold, driven and haunted man, is drawn to the innocence, and the quiet, steady compass of Markham's decency.
The sharp uptick of his pulse surprised him. Something stuck in the back of his throat, a slight paralysis. Perhaps it was the innocence of the young man, his sinuous and wary grace as he stood there, backlit by a distant streetlamp, foolishly brave. Not even knowing what he didn't know. When was the last time Somerton had beheld something so guiltless? A deer perhaps. A wild animal, caught unaware of human observation.
But there is also a real sexual awareness in the mix.
“You can't force me to do it.”
There was something so brave and afraid about him, some new quality of desperation that seemed to have penetrated Mr. Markham's skin like the cold rain that gleamed on the tip of his nose. God, that bare and elegant face, so strong and delicate all at once. Why didn't he grow a set of whiskers, to hide all that beautiful vulnerability?
Of course, everything changes when Luisa's identity is discovered and How to School Your Scoundrel becomes a more conventional romance. But it is the interactions between Somerton and Markham—and the fine balance between friendship and awareness that Gray achieves in that relationship—that make this book out of the ordinary.
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Cheryl Sneed reviews for Rakehell.com.