Scandalous Lord Dere

Scandalous Lord Dere - Stephanie Laurens 3.5 starsEngaging short story about Adrian Andrew Hawsley, sixth Viscount Dere, who has become THE romantic liaison that every lady in the ton must have. The married women want to brag about bedding him; the unmarried want to trap him into marriage. After a New Year's Eve ball, the scandalous Lord Dere is so done with his reputation and all the falsity of the ton, that he sets out with his tiger Bolt to his nearby ancestral home of Bellevere. Adrian hasn't been back in 7 or 8 years, after his father died; Adrian was a rakehell, and he and his father were at odds when his father died. Adrian just couldn't seem to go back to Bellevere with out the guilt of not making it right with his father following him.But on their way in the exposed countryside, a blizzard whips up, almost freezing Adrian, Bolt, and the horses to death. Adrian is able to crawl to a somewhat nearby cottage of an old lady (he thinks) with an injured Bolt, only to faint on the doorstep when the door is opened by his childhood friend and love, Abby. Abby, her elderly Aunt Emma, and her servants have quite a time keeping the men from dying of exposure that night. Abby ends up taking personal care of Adrian - the first man she ever loved and the first and only man she's bedded. When she was 16 and he about 20, she asked him to take her maidenhead; he started to refuse, but then acquiesced when she told him that she'd find someone else. Abby's always been in love with Adrian, but after their first wonderful night together, their fathers cooked up a marriage scheme between them, not knowing of their sexual escapades. Adrian balked at having his new freedom taken away by the threat of marriage; Adrian wanted to become the rakehell he did become in London first. And so he broke Abby's heart with his anger; she flatly told their fathers she'd NEVER marry Adrian.However, seeing him again... and during the night, she slips into bed to use her body heat to warm him. He, thinking it's all a dream, makes love to her in the night, and she allows him to continue, even when she awakens. Abby's missed Adrian, but she fears he'll never really love her. Except that upon seeing her again, Adrian's decision to straighten up his life and get Bellevere in order is only strengthened. He's determined to seduce her into being his wife, realizing that he's made a lot of mistakes in the past.Can these two find love? And what about all the interfering neighbors who fear for Abby's reputation with the scandalous Lord Dere?===============A cute book, although somewhat formulaic. However, Abby and Adrian are strong enough characters in their own rights, that they make the story engaging and charming. You can clearly see both sides of this equation: Abby's determination not to be railroaded into a marriage - to only go through with it if Adrian really loves her; she can't take him breaking her heart again. Adrian's determination to make his life count for something, and his realization that Abby is the only woman he can truly be himself with - can truly love - who loves him for HIM and not for his reputation or his title and wealth.