Author: Sylvia Day
Scandalous Liaisons is a collection of three historical erotic tales by Sylvia Day that were previously published as Bad Boys Ahoy, which was Day’s debut first published in 2006.
The three novellas are loosely connected by their characters though they take place in different time frames. My first issue with the book is the order in which the stories are laid out, being connected by characters I would have much preferred the stories to be in chronological order.
Stolen Pleasures takes us to the high seas where pirate Captain Phoenix has just taken a merchant ship to discover that his life is about to change in ways he’d never imagined.
Lucien’s Gamble sees Lucien Remington, owner of a famed gentleman’s club, come to a point where the disregard of High Society may actually affect him.
Her Mad Grace takes Hugh La Coeur into the Derbyshire countryside to visit his sister, but before he can make it that far he finds it necessary to take shelter in a moldering mansion that leaves him a little unsettled.
These stories are set in the early 1800’s in High Society where it’s all about the class you are born into and the company you keep, and how well you can marry. The women must be pure until they can secure a suitable marriage and the men…. well the men get to be and do whoever they want.
The three heroes in Scandalous Liaisons are far from heroic, they are incorrigible rakes used to taking any woman they please, though usually the ones that aren’t taken into polite society and are kept very much on the quiet. None of these men have any intention of marrying, they are far from being gentlemen and have no qualms admitting that. Imagine their surprise when they find themselves taken with totally unsuitable women that will turn their lives upside down.
All three stories revolve around the incorrigible rake melting all the defenses of three young women and taking them to the very brink of ruination. The conflict is strong in all three stories with the match being totally unsuitable so for one reason or another the couple fight the attraction though it’s more than just lust and their passions can’t be denied. There is lots of gratuituous intimacy, which is what the genre is all about, but I did find that the storylines kept me a little more involved than I often find with books of this nature.
Stolen Pleasures sees Olivia Merrick taken along with her fathers merchant ship by pirate Captain Phoenix. She has been recently married, by proxy, to Sebastian Blake Earl of Merrick and here is where the fun starts. She has never actually met said Earl and is on her way to England to meet him. Captain Phoenix is a pirate but he is of a rare breed that plunders while trying to keep the body count, and injuries, to a minimum. Olivia sees past the piratical veneer and seems to look deep into his soul, as well as being totally swept away by his heart stopping beauty.
Lucien’s Gamble has Lady Julienne La Coeur try to sneak her way into a gentleman’s club dressed as a man as she hunts for her brother. Instead she is immediately spotted by Remington, Julienne is a virginal innocent in her first Season and in the market for a husband. Not because she wants to marry but she knows she needs to make an advantageous match to ensure that she can get her irresponsible brother out of trouble. She sees beyond the carefree debauched facade he presents and recognises something much more worthy behind the mask. He is honourable, knowledgeable and extremely wealthy – as well as the handsomest man in England – and if it wasn’t for the circumstances of his birth he would be seen as a wonderful catch but as it stands he will never be accepted in Society.
Her Mad Grace gives us a closer look at the irresponsible brother of Lady Julienne La Coeur, Hugh La Coeur Earl of Montrose. It’s a few years on from Lucien’s Gamble so he has matured and learnt a lot but not quite enough to have rid himself of his past. This story shows us his vulnerable side, we get a look at how his earlier behaviour has shaped the man he has become and the need he feels to be appreciated and trusted; something that he failed to earn from his sister. This one kept me intrigued for much of the story trying to untangle the twists, making it quite possibly my favourite of the three.
The women in the stories may be virginal and untouched, in the first two instances anyway, but they are strong willed and fiesty. They aren’t afraid of the Society they have been born into and though they do their best to follow the codes of said Society, at least in public, they are more inclined to follow their own course. These are strong heroines in a time where women were still largely viewed as chattel and I quite liked all of them.
The theme of taming the bad boys with untouched virginity is rife and these men who profess to be far from honourable manage to contain themselves enough that they don’t bring ruination to these ladies. They just bring them to the brink which shows from the outset that they are redeemable.
An enjoyable read with more substance than I expected.
I devour books, vampires and supernatural creatures are my genre of choice but over the past couple of years, I have broadened my horizons considerably. In a nutshell – I love to write! I love interacting with a diverse range of artists to bring you interviews. Perhaps we were perfect before – I LOVE WORDS!