Scoundrel - Elizabeth Elliott My review contains spoilers and they're mostly my thoughts as I went with the book...

Uh, talk about disappointments! When I started out Scoundrel, I was prepared to really like it, if not love outright, since so far, EE’s other books have been great. It started out quite fine too but alas, somewhere in between, I begin to get pissed off towards the hero, Miles and his callous Ducal arse. The heroine, Lily disappointed me because even though she was supposed to be brilliant, she showed the lack of it where Miles was concerned. She was nothing but a veritable mush brained TSTL whenever he was there. I can’t imagine a bigger frustration than this!

If you haven’t read the Montague series by EE, then I recommend the series. I loved book 1, The Warlord. I wasn’t sure until I started reading Scoundrel that this is also a spin-off the Montagues series, though can be read as a stand-alone. Miles is Kenric’s (the hero of The Warlord) descendant. Kenric was an arse too on the half but he compensated whatever trouble he wrought throughout by being a sweet inside, growly and cuddly outside bear in the second half. But Miles never really changed, maybe until the very end, when my patience has already worn thin by then...

This is what happens: Lily is the daughter of an Earl. She’s also a very talented code-breaker for the government, assisting in catching French spies and so on. The story takes place before the French war, and so, Lily’s involvement is crucial. Her father, Lord Crofford, also works for the war department through another of their mutual friend, Lord Bainbridge. Lily is a very close friend of Sophie, Bainbridge’s niece, who also knows of their endeavors along with Lady Bainbridge. So, it’s a tightly kept family secret that two families share. But outside, they keep facades, as in Crofford and Bainbridge don’t really mix in the same circle and Lily acts as a featherbrained when in the society. Crofford doesn’t want Lily’s involvement, aware of the dangers but since she’s the only code-breaker who can break any code, he can’t forbid it as well. Lily has given up all hopes of marrying and having her own family because of the secrecy of her work. But that doesn’t mean that she can’t daydream about a certain Duke, who doesn’t even know she exists. Here, I was getting a hint of an unrequited love, which generally is one of my favorite themes. I read on... There is every which rumors around about this young, handsome Duke, who’s already a widower. He’s dark and broody, big and beautiful and also a womanizer. Women trip over each-other to catch his attentions. It’s also said that he has no intentions of marrying again because he was burned by his first wife, disgusted by her repeated adultery. He would be perfectly happy to pass the title on to his brother, Trevor’s heirs.

Everything about Miles is correct. He is broody and wears black clothes (though I don’t know exactly why). He was burned in love by his first wife, who died giving birth to her bastard. Though it didn’t keep him from committing his own with other married women, as we are made aware later in the story, Miles vowed not to marry anymore. Miles doesn’t believe in love and doesn’t care to entangle himself. Better f*ck loose widows and married ladies. Then, it’s revealed that he’s been fantasizing over Lily for the past 3 yrs but he didn’t take any step because, one, she’s a bit air-headed (the façade he’s unaware of) and two, of course, if he sleeps with her, he’ll have to marry her. No innocent young misses for His Ducal arse! We also know that he has other, numerous business ventures; one of them is in shipping. He has his own ships to run (IMO, this is an allusion to the Montagues series, book 2, Betrothed; Kenric’s stepbrother Guy had the same-ish business ventures and made it big for the Montagues).

So, in a ball, we find Lily slipping her recent work inside Lady Bainbridge’s hand, while acting in her role. Another gossipy debutante was maliciously spreading rumors about her. It seems like some lord died in a duel, who was supposed to be Lily’s betrothed. Later we learned that it never really went that far, but a few dances in some balls. Lily is also quite upset to learn that a certain Duke is apparently engaged to that gossipy debutante. She was also dodging the attentions of some people, including one Lord Allen, whom Lily never liked but who, unfortunately, has taken a sticky interest in her. Even though she was shocked by the news the engagement, Lily was still waiting for that certain Duke to arrive so that she can drool over His Hawtness. Then, he appears and as usual, seems to be oblivious of Lily (yes, she doesn’t know that Miles have thoroughly checked her out already). They were never even introduced socially. Then something happens to piss her off and she tells Sophie that how awful it is that she’d always have been so infatuated with a man like him... which is when Miles decides to let his presence known. He already knew Sophie and asks for an introduction. Lily is embarrassed about her outburst, however whispery that was, being aware that Miles has heard everything. Miles insists on a dance, and somehow Lily interprets it as if he’s trying to embarrass her, using her to make that gossipy debutante jealous. I didn’t really get the picture as to why but Lily is hurt all the same. Later that night, she leaves for home and her father for White’s. At home, Lily is attacked by someone in a mask. She was about to be raped and murdered when she somehow injures the attacker and runs outside, her father and servants, all neatly tide up, unable to help. Lily didn’t know that Crofford had been kidnapped, sort of, on his way to White’s and was brought back home, so she runs there to find him, all bloody from the attack and in her nightgown. Fortunately, Miles was also coming out with a friend, Lord Gordon and helps Lily. Miles is stunned by this, since, it was apparent that he *did* care for Lily, though he was trying hard to not let it show.

After everyone was saved, it was revealed that the attacker has escaped. Crofford acts as the worried father (which he was of course, he loved his daughter without a doubt) but he can’t discuss his plans for Lily’s safety with Miles. Miles tells them that he’s willing to help them, in any way possible. When he leaves, he leaves his band of piratey looking men to secure the house and guard Lily. When they’re alone, Crofford informs Lily that she has to go to this ‘safe house’, a code name for some place where she can stay for a while as no one but a very few people know about that place. He tells her to hire a coach and take her lady’s maid. But, as they were on their way, Miles’ guards insist that they escort her and thus, she ends up in Miles’ home instead. Miles woke up from his sleep and becomes angry that her father made this harebrained plan to take her to an aunt in Brighton (which Crofford told Miles’ guards, the aunt in question already dead), alone in a hired coach. He won’t let her out of his sight, at any cost. Lily tries to get out but is sort of, accosted by him. In the morning, he meets up with Crofford to confirm where Lily is now. Crofford is instantly worried for Lily’s reputation because everyone knows that Miles is a rake. But as Miles tries to assure Crofford that he would take care of Lily and act honorably, Lily’s father thinks it’s for the best. But I think he wanted just to talk to Bainbridge before taking the next step.

After returning home, Miles tells Lily that she’s to stay here for a while, Lily is confused. Why on earth would her father want her to be here? She again tries to leave but she doesn’t make it far. I understood that for Lily it was nerve-wreaking. She was already traumatized by the event of her near murder, then Miles’ nearness put her emotions in edge. She was very open throughout the book about her feelings, which I appreciated. What I didn’t appreciate was her being such a pushover where Miles was concerned. I’d explain as I go... I already said Miles didn’t want to get entangled with Lily (and be trapped in a marriage subsequently) but that didn’t stop him from fantasizing about her. I’m glad, very glad that he didn’t seek out one of his sluts to ‘relieve that edge’ but he was a callous and insensitive boor anyway. He begins spurning Lily’s affection from the beginning. He knew, one, because he’s already heard she fantasized about him and two, Lily’s face would always give her away when she looked at him. Miles would be equally elated and then, would dread this. I was sure that in his own way he cared for Lily but that ‘way’ didn’t work for me because more often than not, in at the act of thwarting Lily’s affections (and to check his own impulses), Miles would end up saying something rather degrading, or condescending or downright rude. He thought he was doing a favor to Lily. My question is: you’re a grown and experienced man, how could you not decide Miles? Then he would go kiss and fondle her too. Way to handle an inexperienced girl, with whom you’re trying to avoid being entangled! It was a mess! I hated to read Lily’s hopes being dashed, her dazzling smiles being put out by Miles’ next words or actions. Is it ok to kiss a girl senseless and then tell her you can’t have any kind of honorable relationship with her? I think it’s damned cruel to play like that with anyone! So, yes, I started disliking Miles soon enough. Poor Lily even had to face Trevor alone when Miles wasn’t at home, and think of excuses to save her reputation. Even though Trevor guessed something was wrong, he was gracious enough to let it go for the time.

In between, the mystery of the would-be murderer was being pursued but in vain. Miles also met up with Bainbridge and Crofford and he now knows about Lily’s secret works with the government. Then, surprise, surprise! Miles is also spy for the government. His fleets work back and forth between France and England. As a new plan, so that Miles can stick close to Lily without rousing suspicions, they start appearing in balls and gatherings as a couple courting. We also learn that Miles put his farcical engagement to that gossipy debutante to an end, as it was a ruse to trap her traitor father. No one really cared about what happened to her... So, Lily would tell herself that this is nothing but a ruse too. Then, they’d kiss and she’d start daydreaming all over again. Then Miles would go and be the arse to put her dreams to sleep. I got FRUSTRATED reading scenes after scenes of such utter tripe!

After some push and pull in their relationship, Lily is invited to attend this house-party by some lord who is also a part of some sort of an Egyptian antiquities society, where Sophie frequents. Miles escorts Lily and Sophie there. I was, by this time, bored and pissed on Miles. In this party, some stuff happen. One was the appearance of one of Miles’ mean ex-mistresses. I hated this, and the fact that Lily knew what their relationship was. I wanted to beat the woman for making hot eyes and sending coy smiles towards him, when it was apparent that Miles had no interest in her at all. The more I learned about her the more I lost respect for Miles, as I don’t know what the f*ck he saw in her. The woman had much venom and tried to pore it out on Lily, since she knew they’re courting. Miles did NADA to stop her! Earlier that day, when Sophie learned from Lily that Miles doesn’t really care for Lily that way, she advised her to play a little with him, as in, let him know that she has no interest in him anymore. Sophie thought it would bring Miles around because from the looks he gave Lily in the carriage (of which she was blissfully unaware) suggested that the man’s already halfway in love. But the plan goes awry. Lily asks for privacy to talk and Miles suggests his own bedroom, as it was closer to Lily’s. At night, the ex-mistress sneaks into Miles’ bedroom, half naked, to carry on with their ‘previous relationship’. But does Miles kick her out? No! He was having a civil conversation with her, when he knew Lily would be here any moment, so that she takes herself off. I mean if she wanted that, why on earth would she do this in the first place? This scene was so utterly annoying, can’t explain! So, Lily is there and finds them both locked in an embrace, even though the b*tch threw herself at Miles. Lily is hurt, but does she go back and show Miles her middle finger? NO! She comes in, helps formulating some stupid acting to send the mistress screaming out of Miles’ room, making Miles proud of her. WOW, but me? *gag* When he ‘compliments’ her on her acting abilities and quick wit, Lily is glowing. I mean, woman, the way he’s been treating you for the first half of the book, he needs to get down and kiss your feet. He should be embarrassed that Lily found him like this with his former slut. But he’s not! And you, Lily? It seems like you don’t have any self-esteem at all! You take his rubbish and swallow them, glow when he’s giving you tinsy bit of appreciation. You even say sorry to him for things, the apologies he never even deserved in the first place.

As I saw it, Miles NEVER really apologized for his asshatty behavior ever.

This just got old and tiring and freakin’ annoying!!!!! By 60% of the book, I just wanted it to finish because I didn’t care what happened to them anymore.

But, if I DNFd, I would’ve missed out a super insensitive scene, courtesy of Miles, which made me wanna kill him and shake Lily to come to her senses. But, let’s get back to the mess. So, when the mistress was taken care of, they realize that the woman would spread words about Lily being in Miles’ room at night. The best thing would be for Miles to marry her now. But Lily is scared. She even starts planning on living alone for the rest of her life since she won’t put Miles through this marriage. Ok, I get that she didn’t want to be an unwanted wife. I totally agree, as Miles in so many words and actions told her that he doesn’t want her as his wife. But, what drove me nuts was Lily’s concern for Miles, even now, when she should be mostly thinking of her own well-being. Miles was such a jerk throughout the book that I was agape. Then, there’s this attack on Lily’s life again, this time someone shooting from outside, amidst a gathering in the house. Lily is unharmed but it leaves Sophie badly injured. This kinda shakes Miles a bit and he does everything to take care of the situation. Sadly, still they were nowhere near the truth about the villain, or who he was. Next morning, Bainbridges and Crofford arrive. Miles insists he wants to marry Lily. She tries to speak up but as usual, men don’t pay her any heed. Miles is being his Ducal self and tells Lily in a very condescending manner that they’ll marry. Lily then looks at his Sexy Highness and doesn’t remember anymore why she wanted to argue in the first place................... (someone kill me now, please!!)

In a nutshell, they marry. Back at Miles’ townhouse, they consummate their marriage. But he keeps blathering on about ‘friendship and affection’ in this marriage, rather than ‘love’. He even starts ignoring her by daytime, returning only to have sex at night. Inside, Miles even compares her with his ex-lovers, as in this obsession will wear off soon! Lily is hurt and confused, while I’m banging my head on the wall. In plain words, he’d never love her back. Oh what a romantic thing for a new husband to tell his wife, knowing she’s madly in love with him! Good God!! What made it worse was the fact that Miles was actually more than halfway in love with her. But he wasn’t man enough to come out and let it show. Then comes that beautiful scene where he compares Lily’s love to a bowl of strawberries!!!!! OMFG. OMG....... I just...... had my mouth hanging open! Lemme quote that bit of the dialogue dripping with romance:

"...I learned long ago that romantic love exists only in fairy tales, yet the word itself can mean many things. We sometimes deceive ourselves with it, as I believe you are deceiving yourself now. For instance, I might say that I love strawberries in cream, but that does not mean I am in love with them, or that they will always be my favorite food. Do you understand what I am saying?"

Yes I do you arse! This means you are NOT worth any trouble. F*cking moron!!!!!

After that, I just wanted to scream, “DIEEEEEEEEEEE”, so, please don’t ask me what happens because Lily, who was hurt, again, remains the same person; someone without an ounce of self-esteem and forgives this moron with the next smile he bestows upon her... that was, I think, a few paragraphs later.

I could comment on the climax of the book but I was going through the motion by then. This climax was kinda cool since the murder mystery was done well IMO. It inevitably involved Lily and another threat on her life, because obviously, the French were involved and wanted her removed from the scene. I wasn’t quite happy about the villain working with them, who basically was a jolly person. I had not a clue, until almost at the end, because another person everyone else suspected and was killed in a fight with Miles when he threatened Lily’s life (yes, another threat on the poor woman’s life *facepalm*). Then, I zoomed on to the most unlikely person and it was confirmed later when he kidnaps Lily finally.

If these many attempts on my life and being almost killed are what require getting the attentions of a man for the crumbs of his affections for me, he can kiss my arse! Even kissing my feet won’t help him.

But Lily... sigh.

3.5 stars; only because of the last climax and the fact that, I’m still an EE fan and will continue to read her books. Miles should’ve read The Warlord and learn what his ancestor did to make the woman he loved happy. Moron!!

PS: I thought some of the characters were worked to get their own books, i.e. Trevor. Also, Lily’s brother, Robert. I didn’t mention him but he is also working with the government, in disguise. There is a last miscommunication between Miles and Lily that involves Robert. Miles knew him in his disguise but not as Crofford’s son. When Robert is finally back and comes to visit Lily, Miles is angry to find him embracing her. Don’t even ask! (Yes, Lily gets scared and says sorry to Miles to calm him down............ FOR HUGGING HER OWN BROTHER!!!!!) *facepalm, again* But as I was saying, it was pretty well established that Robert has an itch for Sophie, which made me instantly interested in their book. But of course, there had been no book in these intervening years. The good news is, EE is writing again and I keep my fingers crossed that someday we’ll get Trevor, Robert and Sophie’s books.