Print Length: 320 pages
Publisher:  Zebra Publishing (June 28, 2022)

From Goodreads.com: In the eyes of the ton, Lady Sara Elsmere is so firmly on the shelf, she might as well be nailed in place. Not that Sara minds. She is far more concerned about her study of butterflies than society’s gossip. Of course, it’s also true that the nervous laughter that ruined Sara’s debut—and every social event thereafter—is a bit embarrassing. She can hardly help it—men are quite nerve-wracking. Except for one: the rake who pulls her into a dark room during a costume ball and kisses her senseless. He doesn’t make her titter, he makes her burn...

Ian McAllister, the Duke of Dorcester, is perfectly satisfied to remain a rogue for the rest of his days. But when he finds he has kissed the wrong shepherdess, albeit a decidedly luscious one, he’s faced with a dilemma. His indiscretion with an innocent may cost him a lucrative business arrangement—and his two scapegrace wards need a maternal influence they can’t scare away. Promising Sara the use of her dowry to fund her studies seals the pair’s businesslike deal. But as they embark on their life together, they discover that their mutual attraction has sparked a desire not easily tamed—and certain feelings each of them are surprised to own.

Can their matrimonial experiment possibly end in real love?

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My Rating: 3 stars out of 5

For the most part, this was a cute read that can be enjoyed as a complete stand-alone from the others (although certain characters do appear from the prior novels, in my opinion, you do not need to know their backstories in order to understand and enjoy this story). 

Ian and Sara were .... interesting. There were times when I enjoyed them getting to know one another, and times when I wanted to throttle Ian for being such a prat. He tells his staff to make Sara happy, they do as she asks and he gets mad and throws a hissy fit about it. Mind you, this was over something as trivial as a room she wanted in which to keep her books, and butterfly specimens, and in which she could continue her research into butterflies, the exact thing he had promised her she could do should they marry. And of course, there is the internal back and forth between both of them wanting the other, but refusing to admit it. Because gosh darn it! They won't be the one to make the first move! 

Then we have the two little boys that he is guardian to. I enjoyed the prank war they got into with Sara, and the way she refused to be cowed by them, instead giving just as good as she got. It was enjoyable watching as the boys began to trust her and open up to her little by little during the time that Ian was away. 

Speaking of Ian's wards, I'm still a little confused about why Edward and Jacob, (who drove off three nannies prior with their antics) were suddenly the most well-behaved children on the planet when they went to stay with Ian's friend so that he and Sara could enjoy a slight honeymoon without them. I would have liked to have heard a least a tiny complaint about their behavior, but no. As far as the friend was concerned the boys were angels. 

I'm still a bit confused about the seemingly last-minute addition of Ian's stepmother and the sudden plot to have him killed. Considering said stepmother was Ian's former paramour (to whom he had actually proposed before she married his father), I feel there were so many other, more enjoyable ways the author could have used her that would have been more believable. As it stands, her arrival in town and her nefarious plots changed absolutely nothing except it made Ian admit to Sara that he had fallen in love with her too. That's it. There was no discord between the couple over her arrival, no mistrust. Nothing. Just Sara knowing the other woman was up to no good, and ultimately putting the pieces together in enough time to thwart her plans. 

If you're in the mood for an easy read to pass the time, I would highly recommend this novel. Especially if you're a fan of the marriage of convenience troupe. 

DISCLAIMER: I received a complimentary copy of this novel from the publisher. This has not affected my review in any way. All thoughts and opinions expressed in this review are 100% my own.                         *******************
                                               
                               Never Marry a Scandalous Duke is available on Amazon.com