The Counterfeit Scoundrel by Lorraine Heath

The Counterfeit Scoundrel (The Chessmen: Masters of Seduction, #1)The Counterfeit Scoundrel by Lorraine Heath

Tracy’s rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

Series: The Chessmen, #1

Release Date: February 21, 2023

David Blackwood better known as Bishop is a scoundrel, or at least that is what most of London believes about “Blackguard Blackwood”, as he has been cited in at least 3 recent divorces and is completely unrepentant. But what they don’t know, in fact, no one knows, not even his three best friends, known as “the Chessmen”. His secret is that he doesn’t really have affairs with these women, but he lets society believe he does so the ladies can obtain a divorce. He is driven to help them escape unhappy marriages after watching his father abuse his mother and being unable to help her, she died of a “fall” when he was only fourteen and he has never forgiven himself or his father. That is another reason he helps these women because he knows it drives his father crazy when Bishop is written up in the papers. Is his reputation tainted beyond redemption? Probably, but he doesn’t care, he has no plans to marry and would rather continue to help unhappy wives than have one of his own. But that was before he met Marguerite “Daisy” Townsend while meeting with another woman looking to use him to get a divorce. He is immediately captivated by her but is certain she is not what she appears to be.

Despite being born into a noble family, Marguerite “Daisy” Townsend, has never felt that she fit into society. Her parent’s marriage was a misalliance, her father was the youngest son of an earl, and her mother a lady’s maid. Her mother died from an opium overdose and her father died a few days later, leaving her an orphan. She was raised by her Aunt Charlotte, who has never married and she has decided that marriage is not for her. Instead, she had become an Inquiry agent and opened her own agency, she hopes to make enough to live independently. Her current job has her posing as a maid in Bishop’s home to gather evidence of an affair between him and her client’s wife. She can see why women flock to him, he is gorgeous and kind, but clearly, he is having affairs with married women, but is her client’s wife one of them? Despite her best efforts, she is drawn to him and feels that something is not right with his affairs. That feeling is amplified when they meet at the Fair and the Spare club, the connection between them is electric, but just when she thinks he is going to kiss her, he leaves. The next day she catches him kissing her client’s wife and has the proof she needs to end her charade. After a passionate encounter and then a confrontation between them, she walks away, determined to forget him. But when the husband of one of his ladies turns up dead, Bishop is the prime suspect and she can’t refuse to help him clear his name. But she is risking more than her reputation, she is risking her heart.

What a great start to a new series! I loved Daisy and Bishop, I felt the connection between them immediately and it never wained, I did think they both were a bit jaded and cynical, but given their pasts, it was understandable, however, I have to agree with my blog partner, Bishop’s dedication to his mother’s memory was a bit too much and while it didn’t give me the same “creepy” vibe it gave her, I did feel that he needed to crank it down a notch. Besides that, this book was pretty much perfect, it has secrets, lies, a slow-burn romance that ignites an inferno, murder, deception, betrayal, heartache, familiar faces, steamy love scenes, shocking twists, surprising discoveries, and finally a sigh-worthy ending complete with an epilogue that will require a tissue or two. I do wish the “Chessmen” were a bit more prominent in this book, but otherwise, I loved this book and can’t wait for the next book! This is the first book in a spinoff series, the Chessmen were introduced in The Duchess Hunt, which is part of the Once Upon a Dukedom series, and that is when the first Chessman “King” found his HEA. I would venture to say these books are going to be very loosely connected and can be read as standalone titles.

*I am voluntarily leaving a review for an eARC that I requested and was provided to me by the publisher. All opinions in this review are my own.*

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Avid reader (and reviewer) of historical romance.

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