The Scandalous Vixen by Tracy Sumner

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Lady Hell’s Inferno

Well, this is my new favorite Tracy Sumner book! I adored Lady Hell. Helena “Lady Hell” Astley walks casually on the seashore as a teenager girl, well-aware that standing on a cliff observing her is a handsome young man.

The young man is none other than Roan, an earl’s son who is about to inherit a dukedom, much to his great displeasure, being in rather pitiful financial straits. Immediately taken with Helena, Roan makes a horrible mess of things at his first encounter with her and sets off a chain of events which leaves us, the reader, skipping ahead ten years to when…

Lady Hell and the Defiant Duke are, arguably, enemies. At least, as far as Helena is concerned. She has scorned what she perceives as insincere attempts by Roan to make amends for his cruel faux-pas ten years earlier.

However, Roan slowly worms his way into Helena’s life and eventually makes a daring proposal. Knowing that Helena is responsible for her younger half-sister and wishes for her to have all of the best opportunities which were off the table for Lady Hell–a girl from the rookery who inherited her father’s shipping business and enjoys being a working woman–Roan invites Helena and her sister to his estate to take advantage of lessons from the Duchess Society.

How can Helena refuse such a generous offer? Of course, complicating matters is the fact that Roan suggests they make things “more proper” by pretending to be courting. So, this enemies to lovers story is also, in part, a fake courtship/engagement plot, which makes it even more fun.

Sumner is a deft word-weaver and there are far too many quotable bits to choose from:

“Love arrives much as your fist did against Leighton’s jaw,” Tobias Streeter, the hero from Sumner’s last book, tells Roan. “Without notice. I hope you have ten children to keep you up at night. You’ll worry your damned life over them, let me tell you. But be happier for it, I promise.”

Look forward to lots of comically-delivered tidbits of wisdom like this offered by characters from previous books who pop up throughout the story. Throughout it all, Sumner balances steam with wit, warmth, and humor and continues to endear her hero and heroine to us as they evolve and grow. Two hilarious maids who turn out to be more shrewd than they first seem and a dramatic baby delivery add to a great third act.

STEAM LEVEL: Very Steamy (4/5)

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