What happens when a devilishly good-looking spy masquerading as a womanizing rakehell of very little conscience and a "lady of information" aka gossip find themselves attracted to each other, in a compromising situation, and obligated to marry? You end up with a Regency-set historical romance about some seriously nosy people getting into difficulties, using intelligence, learning to trust each other, and realizing that their obligation to marry landed them each with the perfect mate like in My Scandalous Viscount, Gaelen Foley's fifth installment of her Inferno Club series.
Carissa Portland is attracted to Sebastian, Viscount Beauchamp against her better judgement. She knows that he has few, if any, morals and yet she cannot stop the frisson of excitement she feels for him. One night at the opera, she spies him exchanging notes to arrange an assignation but she also witnesses another man tamper with the Beau's reply to his paramour. Thinking to warn him out of danger, she tries to intervene for his protection but she's injured in the process. Beau wants to keep a distance between himself and the enticingly nosy lady of information for many reasons, not least of which is that he's a member of the notorious Inferno Club, which is the cover for a clandestine spy agency in the service of the crown. But when Carissa is injured, he unthinkingly takes her to the club to tend to her wounds, leaving her alone long enough for her to snoop her way into possession of very classified information. Both her newfound knowledge and her presence at the club make it imperative that Beau marry Carissa, protecting her good name and his secrets in one fell swoop.
Carissa's stumbling into the secret of the Inferno Club would be bad enough on its own but the club is also under investigation by the government, an investigation led by a hostile man with Jacobite ties. Foley has done a very good job incorporating greater history into this romance through this situation. The book, although mid-series, stands on its own quite well with just enough of the backstory mentioned to connect it to previous books but also to explain what led up to the events here without baffling newer readers or boring established readers. Carissa and Beau and their growing relationship are interesting and fully described without resorting to stock characters or scenes. There is an immediate sexual spark between them and they do not spend pages denying their attraction even once their marriage is inevitable. The secrets they conceal from the other are substantial but their reluctance to trust and share these secrets is understandable and realistic. All in all, a romance that sucks the reader in, presents them with an enticing mystery, and then makes the uncovering of the truth tense and unexpected as the main characters must learn to work in tandem on the way to their happily ever after.
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Thanks to Trish from TLC Book Tours and the publisher for sending me a copy of this book to review.