“Ten thousand pounds to whoever can seduce the heiress by Michaelmas!”
Even for dissolute rake Richard Arrandale, this latest bet is outrageously scandalous. But Richard doesn’t care—until he meets the heiress’s charming chaperon and the stakes are raised even higher!
Widowed Lady Phyllida Tatham is no longer the shy, plain creature she once was. She’s determined to protect her beautiful stepdaughter, but there’s one suitor—with the worst kind of reputation—who seems more interested in seducing her. Who will come out on top in this winner-takesall game?
This is the first book in a quartet of books about The Scandalous Arrandales, a family whose name has become a byword for dissipation, profligacy and excess throughout society. It’s basically a rake-meets-prim-guardian story, but it’s a very good one – well-written and strongly characterised with a central romance that develops at a credible pace. The hero of The Chaperon’s Seduction is Richard Arrandale, a young man who has forged himself a reputation as a rake of the first order. His older brother, Wolfgang, fled England a decade ago accused of the murder of his wife, and their father never cared very much for either of them, intent on pursing his own dissipated existence, and leaving them to more or less bring themselves up.
Richard was a mischievous, adventurous seventeen year-old when his brother decamped, although his father believed him to be just as dissolute as the rest of the Arrandales. Bereft after the disappearance of the older brother he’d looked up to, and angry at his father for his poor opinion of him, Richard felt he might as well live up to his family’s reputation, got himself sent down from Oxford and then embarked upon a spectacular round of debauchery in London. A decade later, his reputation as a gambler and womaniser is practically unparalleled, but what few realise is that ever since his brother’s departure, Richard has been maintaining Wolf’s property at his own expense, supplementing the small income derived from his own modest estate by gambling for high stakes.
Richard is staying in Bath with his great aunt (of whom he is very fond), and is spending an evening at one of his favourite gambling hells when he hears of the imminent arrival of a new, young heiress. The news spreads like wildfire, and even though he finds it rather distasteful, Richard is persuaded to join in with a wager; whoever seduces her first will win ten thousand pounds. His thousand-pound stake is not something he can easily afford, but even more, Richard can’t afford to turn his nose up at the prospect of the prize money. And while he knows he’s no model of propriety, he’s aware that some of the men involved would treat a young woman less than kindly, so he determines to pursue the heiress while also protecting her from the attentions of the less decent types among the group.
You can read the rest of this review at All About Romance.