The concept of How to Steal a Scoundrel’s Heart by Vivienne Lorret is a ton of fun – a “relationship of convenience” trope that shies away from marriage, featuring a mistress contract. All of my friends who read this title adored it, but sadly it just did not work for me. Nonetheless, I think it’s a fun read a lot of people will enjoy!
Note: This post contains affiliate links. When you click on and/or purchase from some links, I make a portion of the sale. This helps keep Bitch Bookshelf running.
Find out more about how I review books here.
The summary, from Amazon:
In USA Today bestselling author Vivienne Lorret’s latest steamy romance, a determined debutante discovers that making a deal with a notorious rake might just give her more than she ever bargained for…
Ruined debutante Prudence Thorogood lost everything when she was ousted from polite society, including her inheritance. Now she’ll do anything to take back what’s hers… even if she has to steal it. Accepting a scandalous offer from Lord Savage seems like the perfect solution to disguise her criminal intentions from the ton. Until she discovers that there’s more to this scoundrel than meets the eye.
Leo Ramsgate, Marquess of Savage, has everything except for a heart. That organ dried up long ago after a devastating betrayal. Since then, he vowed never to trust or love again. He ensures that his dalliances are mutually satisfying, but always temporary… until he meets the reserved Miss Thorogood. Not one of his previous lovers has ever beguiled him the way she does. Not one has made him want to break his own rules. Not one has tempted him to keep her… forever.
Prue has every intention of disappearing from London after their affair ends. But her plan falters when she finds herself falling hopelessly in love with a man who may never love her in return. With time running out and so much at stake, she cannot help but wonder…
How to Steal a Scoundrel’s Heart?
Buy How to Steal a Scoundrel’s Heart here.
Content warning: The heroine was sexually assaulted prior to the novel taking place.
After Prue was sexually assaulted by a man she thought wanted to marry her, her family abandoned her and her stepmother gave away or sold off all the items in her inheritance. Prue is determined to get them back. After some unsuccessful attempts at larceny, she approaches her acquaintance, the rakish Marquess of Savage, Leo. Leo engages in short-term relationships with fourth month contracts. Prue agrees to be his mistress if he helps her to steal back her inheritance, and Leo accepts.
I really struggled to connect with Prue. As her name suggests, she is very prudish, which I think has more to do with her upbringing than her sexual assault. Her constant insecurity in the bedroom just didn’t do it for me, but other readers might appreciate this in a heroine as we don’t often see it in romance novels. I liked the slowly developing relationship between Leo and Prue with lots of kissing and foreplay before the two sleep together in the figurative sense. However, when it came down to it, waiting was more about making sure Prue wasn’t pregnant than honoring her anxieties when it came to sex.
There’s more to my rant below that I think is a little spoilery, so I’ll hide it under a tag…
I also didn’t like the discussion of virginity in this one. Prue considers her sexual assault to be the loss of her virginity, but when she finally sleeps with Leo, she loses it in what many consider to be the medical sense; her assailant did not break her hymen. Leo immediately wants to do the “honorable thing” and marry Prue and surprises her with a wedding. After a little disagreement, she agrees to marry him that very day. He assures her that he took her virginity, not her rapist.
The writer lost me there. Some hymens break before the first time having sex. Some don’t break until a few times in. It felt both progressive and outdated to suggest the breaking of a hymen was the true loss of Prue’s virginity (which is just a concept in and of itself) rather than her assault. Yes, she gets to reclaim a positive memory as her first time, but Leo chooses that for her. I would have rather either Prue made that distinction herself or Leo, who recognizes Prue’s other experience as assault, helped her reclaim this moment as the loss of her virginity because it was positive rather than because he broke her hymen. Gross.
Anyway, overall this was a fun read, though the end really dragged on. I had a lot of issues with the discussions of virginity in this title, but I can see why many of my friends enjoyed it anyway.
How to Steal a Scoundrel’s Heart by Vivienne Lorret
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
What this book does well it does really well, but Prue just wasn’t the heroine for me and I found the discussion of virginity to be at once progressive and regressive. The ending dragged out. But the entire concept of the plot is a ton of fun!
Book Club Questions
- What is virginity?
- Describe the relationship dynamic between Prue and Leo.
- Do you think this story was historically accurate?
@daily.manifestationx On a #booktok roll tonight #romancebooks #romancebooktok ♬ original sound – Marissa
Interested? Buy How to Steal a Scoundrel’s Heart.
And don’t forget to add me as a friend on Goodreads!