Her Secret Guardian

The Maiden Bride

My Wicked Earl

The Pleasure of Her Kiss

The Wedding Night

A Scandal to Remember
by Linda Needham
(Avon, $5.99, PG)  0-06-051412-4
Andrew Chase, the Earl of Wexford, is an undercover operative for the British Foreign Office. He is not at all happy about his latest assignment. The exiled Princess Caroline is supposed to assume the throne of the small country of Boratania in less than a month. There are indications that someone is trying to stop her from doing so. Drew is to guard her and keep her from harm until that time. His previous experience with royalty has been less than happy. He expects Caroline to be a spoiled, pampered creature who will fight him at every turn.

Caroline has been educated about the history and customs of her country from birth. She learned from her tutors, that her father, the King of Boratania, died during an invasion of the country and her mother, the Queen, died soon afterward, living long enough to give birth to her. She has lived in England since then. She sees as her responsibility the task of collecting as many of the looted items from Boratania as possible. When she slips into the garden at a large party, she is looking for one of the looted pieces. Instead, she encounters a very gorgeous, but large man. Drew has followed her thinking that she is meeting a lover and may put herself in danger. She is not happy to encounter someone who takes her away from her goal.

When she later discovers that the rogue she encountered in the garden is to be her constant companion until her coronation, she is not pleased. It gets worse as she arrives at her home to discover that he has replaced all of her staff with more undercover agents and tries to get her to stay locked inside. She very quickly shows him that she can and will go about her business of retrieving the rest of the treasures and preparing for an exhibit of them in the Crystal Palace. She doesn’t take Drew’s concerns for her life very seriously until someone tries to ambush their carriage.

In the beginning, I found Caroline annoying because she didn’t take the threats seriously and did her best to sneak away from Drew’s protection. Once someone else was hurt trying to protect her, everything changed. She started assisting Drew to find the identity of the culprit and her years of discovering the locations of the looted treasures made her quite helpful. It was easy to see how Drew could be so quickly enamored by both her beauty and her brains.

Drew is one of the valiant men of the times. He received his title because of good service to his country, not because of his birth. He does everything in his power to protect Caro and is thoroughly dismayed when he can’t find the villain quickly enough. He even gets to give a noble gesture near the end. His attempts to bully Caro to do everything his way keep him from being too perfect.

While I liked the relationship between Drew and Caro, there were some details I felt were missing. I never quite understood why the European and British royals decided to put Boratania back in place. What information was given just indicated that they planned to do so. Also, Drew and his fellow agents, Jared and Ross, have some kind of brotherhood bond from a past experience. While it is alluded to, it is never fully explained. Since this is the second book in the "Gentleman Rogues" series, I can only assume the information was in the first book. Both men appear in the story, but not much background information is given.

Drew is required to keep a piece of information secret from Caro. There are enough clues early on so that I had figured it out well before it was revealed. The villain is involved with this information, but the unmasking is somewhat anticlimactic. How the royal princess and the commoner with a title can end up together is the real climax of the book. Both Caro and Drew stay true to their characters to give a satisfying ending.

--B. Kathy Leitle

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