His Scandalous Lessons
by Katrina Kendrick
He is London’s most notorious rogue
Richard Grey is renowned for his escapades in the bedchamber. But he’s hidden the truth for years: his wicked reputation is a public front to hide his political machinations. So when the prime minister’s daughter arrives on his doorstep with a scandalous proposal, he seizes the opportunity to gather information against her father, his corrupt political rival.
She is determined to escape her past
Anne Sheffield’s life is dictated at the whims of her domineering father. Considered an asset for her remarkable memory, Anne is privy to intelligence passed between the prime minister and his allies — and he’s determined to keep her close. Desperate to escape, she presents Richard with a trade: help her find, seduce, and secure a husband of her choosing in exchange for political information.
The arrangement is supposed to be simple: his help for her secrets. But sharing secrets can lead to dangerous consequences . . .
This isn’t the kind of book I’d usually pick up in a million years. I’m not a huge fan of the title or the cover or even the wording of the blurb, but as I’ve been chatting about quite a lot recently I wanted to give the Romance genre a chance after being a snob about it for far too long, and I ended up enjoying this novel a lot.
Judging by this and The Kiss Quotient which I read and reviewed earlier this year, I’m clearly a fan of the ‘one character teaches the other character the art of seduction’ trope in Romance. There’s something undeniably fun about watching two characters fall in love when they didn’t mean to.
Anne Sheffield is the daughter of Britain’s (fictional) Prime Minister, a power-hungry man who will stop at nothing to make sure the elite stay elite and the working classes remain trodden on. Anne has been betrothed to a much older man, and ally of her father’s, since she was twelve, and she’s desperate to escape her abusive household. She approaches known womaniser and her father’s political rival, Richard Grey, with a proposition: if he can teach her to seduce a husband of her own choosing, she’ll help him bring down her father.
I wasn’t sure how much I was going to enjoy this book, despite having a lot of fun with A Touch Wicked, purely because I’m not the biggest fan of the womanising man meets virginal woman trope. So often in novels, often historical fiction and traditional fantasy, romances include men who are/have been sexually active and women who never have been, and it gets a little tiresome after a while. Thankfully, I ended up really liking the way this relationship was handled.
Richard doesn’t simply coerce Anne into bed and consider his job done. He teaches her how to flirt and talk to men after she’s spent her life thus far under her father’s watchful eye, and also makes it clear to her that any man who doesn’t take consent and her comfort into consideration, no matter the circumstance, is not a man worth having. Of course women in the 19th century didn’t always have a choice when it came to turning down men who were clearly horrid, but having someone else acknowledge that no one should treat her the way her father and her fiance treat her gives Anne more courage to stand up to them.
I think that’s what’s lovely about Anne and Richard’s relationship: they become friends first.
I will say that this novel does include sexual assault and mention of child sex abuse, just in case that’s something that would make you too uncomfortable to read. I think Kendrick handles the darker elements of the novel well; it’s not a disrespectful ‘you’ve been abused but now you have a handsome man to heal you’ story, but a love story in which one half of the romantic couple learns that the things she has experienced don’t make her less worthy of love.
Kendrick’s style is easy to read and both Anne and Richard are a likeable pair, and strike that important balance of being interesting characters together and apart. The ending was a little rushed for my taste and I would have liked to have seen more of certain characters getting their just desserts rather than being told the information after it had happened, but this was an enjoyable novel and Kendrick is definitely an author whose work I’ll be keeping an eye on.
After one of the revelations in this book, I’m particularly looking forward to a story about Richard’s sister which I believe is being released in 2019.