This review contains spoilers!
In my opinion, this is one of the best stories ever written. Lord of Scoundrels is a story so well laid out and so beautifully told that it will forever hold a special place in my heart.
What do you get when an emotionally detached, 42 year old widower marries the 17 year old daughter of a French nobleman? A poor match, unhappy relationship, and a child who bears the brunt of it all.
Lucia was truly only a spoiled young woman herself when she gave birth to a son, Sebastian. He wasn’t an attractive child and his proud, Florentine nose which came from his mother’s side of the family was referred to as a beak by those who looked upon him. His own father considered him a punishment because of Lucia’s enjoyment of “lewd unnatural conjugal acts,” and after the birth of his son, never again went to her bed.
Eventually, Lucia went away with another man, leaving Sebastian in the care of his father. She thought she was doing the right thing by leaving him behind. It was left to his father to break the news gently to his son. He failed.
From the book:
His father called him into his study.
“You are to stop plaguing the servants about your mother,” his father told him. “You are not to speak of her again. She is an evil, godless creature. Her name is Jezebel, and ‘The dogs shall eat Jezebel by the wall of Jezreel.’”
Somebody was screaming very loud in Sebastian’s head. So loudly that he could hardly hear his father. But his father didn’t seem to hear the screaming. He was looking down at the Bible.
“’For the lips of a strange woman drop as an honey-comb, and her mouth is smoother than oil,’” he read.
“’But her end is bitter as wormwood, sharp as a two-edged sword. Her feet go down on earth; her steps take hold on hell.’” He looked up. “I renounce her, and rejoice in my heart that the corruption has fled the house of my fathers. We will speak of it no more.”
I felt it important to include that snippet in this review, because it speaks volumes about what Sebastian's young life was like. While reading this, I cried. I can’t imagine how little Sebastian felt. He had spent most of his short life being ignored when all children should be loved and adored and worshipped as the gift they are. But Sebastian was given only the occasional attention by his mother, and none by his father. To hear these horrid things being said about his mother, the one person in his life who showed him any affection was devastating. This, along with a life filled with taunting and torment, created a bitter, ruthless man.
Now, let’s take a child raised in a home full of love, praise and support, encouraged to be all she could be. You have Jessica Trent who has grown into a capable young woman who is determined to save her brother from the now grown Sebastian’s evil influence. Now known as Lord Dain, he held quite a bit of influence over Bertie Trent, Jessica’s brother, and was driving him to ruin. Bertie’s determination to be just like Lord Dain was bankrupting him. Spending his money on women every night, drinking and gambling was what Dain enjoyed…and could easily afford. He seemed to take pleasure in watching those around him fail, though. It didn’t matter than Bertie was losing everything in his attempt to live the same self serving, self indulgent lifestyle that Dain did. This is where Jessica steps in and tries to save her brother, and in the process finds that there is much more to Lord Dain than meets the eye.
This novel takes ‘one-ups manship’ to a whole new level, and is so well written that nothing seemed absurd or unlikely. I loved these two, very well written characters who were both so strong and so set in their ways they could not, no matter how hard they tried, destroy each other. They were perfectly matched, each possessing a strength and a quality that the other did not.
I loved how Dain would figure things out in his mind. Having been so emotionally scarred, he always expected the worse from Jess. Always felt that there was some, underlying dark ulterior motive in the things she did. But her unfailing love and perseverance finally broke down the walls he had built around his heart and in the end, when it was all said and done and when it mattered the most, he accepted her love and gave her his own, freely.
I could go on and on and still not do this story justice, so I'll stop trying and instead I would just strongly encourage you to read the book. It is worth every page, every minute, every hour.