"This story is set on the East
Sussex Coast, England, 1830. Jade Smithfield's grandmother unwittingly
sold a land option to the South Downs Railroad before she died. When
Jade learned that her man of affairs, Neil Kirby, engineered it, she
discharged him. However, when Kirby left he took her inheritance, her
copy of the land option sale, and the money from the sale with him. Jade
needed that money and receipt if she was to have any hope of stopping
the railroad from laying track on her property and keep them from
uncovering her grandmother's secret. Then there is Giles Dudley, her
fourth cousin twice removed. He intends to inherit the Peacehaven Estate
by proving Jade's grandmother insane at the time she made her will. If
he succeeds, Dudley inherits everything. Jade and all the people who
depend on her will be thrown into the streets.
wants to save his disabled brother's railroad, and the families who will
lose their living without it, by investigating into the railroad
accidents halting construction. To do so, Marcus applies as Jade's new
man of affairs. But Marcus finds out upon meeting Jade that his
philandering days are over. The more learns about Jade and the women and
children she takes care of, the more he knows that Jade must have a very
good reason for wanting to stop the railroad's construction. However, he
cannot help Jade if she does not trust and confide in him.
Author Annette Blair combines action and romance with strong characters
and a bit of comedy to give her readers a story they will never forget!
I could not help but fall in love with little Emmy and her puppy's
antics. Nor could I stop myself from feeling as though I knew all the
main and secondary characters for real. The story is written so smoothly
that I felt as if I was a part of their circle. Such writing talent is
rare and I am grateful to have come across this novel. It is heading
straight for my Keeper Shelf, never to be loaned out, and hoarded for my
future reading pleasure alone. Annette Blair is a master (or is it
mistress?) of the Historical Romance genre. I cannot recommend this tale
highly enough and I plan to tell everyone I know about it.
Detra Fitch, Huntress Reviews
"In 1830, Marcus Fitzalan
visits eccentric Jade Smithfield under the pretense of seeking
employment as her business affairs manager. He really wants to learn why
Jade is trying to prevent the construction of a railroad in the area
that his disabled brother owns. Jade rejects Marcus as too handsome for
the twelve brittle women and seventeen children that live under her
roof. Besides she believes all men are created equally, nasty, abusive
However she changes her mind when she sees how good he is reaching out
to battered reticent little Emily who is taken with Marcus’ dog Tweenie.
As he continues to display kindness towards her charges, Marcus also
begins to convince her some men can be nice. As they fall in love, he
fears she will assume the worst in him once she learns why he applied
for the job.
This is an interesting complex Victorian romance with a social message
starring an eccentric female obsessed with protecting women and children
who hates men as being abusive. Marcus originally arrived to stop Jade
from sabotaging his sibling’s railroad, but soon finds he loves his
employer and needs to help her with her charges. Fans will appreciate
this Dickensian spin as “progress” vs. the need of the forgotten
downtrodden competes with the hero knowing that he will probably lose
his love once she learns of his deception.
THIS IS AN
INTERESTING COMPLEX VICTORIAN ROMANCE
* long sentences, long
paragraphs, long chapters, and lots of description * * straight-line
plot * * simple and straight forward * * a real 'page turner' * * the
intent is to entertain * * background is detailed * * focus is on people
and the psychology of characters * * focuses on several characters of
different sexes whose lives are intertwined * * characters are developed
over time * * memorable and important secondary characters * * will
leave you feeling content, at ease, peaceful * * conventional,
traditional * * ending wraps everything up *
setting(s) of the book: Victorian.
The time period(s) of the book:
ROMANCE REVIEWS TODAY
PROPER SCOUNDREL - Annette Blair
Five Star (Hardcover)
May 2006, 2012
Newhaven, on the Coast of East Sussex, England - 1830
Lady Jade Smithfield's wastrel father left her to her grandmother to
raise. Her grandmother and the abused women and children she sheltered
in Peacehaven Manor finished the job of teaching Jade that men are all
rotten and never to be trusted. When her grandmother died, Jade
inherited both the estate and the Benevolent Society for Downtrodden
Women. Unfortunately, her grandmother's man of affairs took advantage of
the dying woman to sell an option on part of her land to the South Downs
Railroad without consulting Jade. When she learned of it, she fired him,
and he hasn't been seen since...and neither has the option money. Jade
cannot allow the railroad to go through, lest the digging uncover a
Marcus Fitzalan has come to Peacehaven Manor to
apply for a position as the owner's man of affairs in order to
investigate a series of accidents that are hindering the building of the
railroad. He's heard the owner is a little unconventional, but he's
unprepared for the reality. The house is full of women and children, the
staff is composed only of elderly men, but it's Lady Jade who knocks him
for a loop. Dressed in form-fitting black leather breeches, she looks
him over as though he were a stallion for sale, yet it's obvious to him
she's ignorant of the affect she has on him as a man. Marcus's
impertinent tongue gets the better of him, and he blows the interview.
Though Jade doesn't hire Marcus -- he makes her much too uncomfortable
-- she allows him to stay until he can catch the next day's coach.
Later that day when Marcus gentles a scared little girl, Jade's heart
softens toward him enough that she hires him to keep her books.
PROPER SCOUNDREL has a riveting plot
with several suspenseful threads. Right away, readers will wonder what
secret Jade hides and whether she'll get her money back. The mutual,
seemingly impossible to act upon attraction between Jade and Marcus is
immediately evident and rivals the railroad accidents in piquing
interest. Another tantalizing thread is the gradual unfolding of
Marcus's real identity and the motives behind his actions.
relationship between Marcus and Jade seethes with a sexual tension that
is relieved by their humorous banter. Marcus considers himself a bit of
a scoundrel, but his gentle, caring manner with little Emily and the
battered women in the manor belies that. And so does his love for his
With its warmth and wit, PROPER SCOUNDREL teases the mind and touches the heart. Luxuriate
in its rich emotion, its lively narrative, and wonderful, very human
characters. Jane Bowers
Jade Smithfield has no fear of scandalizing society as she continues to
run the home for downtrodden, frightened women and children, nor does
she have a fear of keeping dangerous secrets. What she does have is a
fear of men. After all, since she was a little girl, she has always
remembered hearing of how her grandfather beat her grandmother, and
living with mistreated women has hardened Jade's heart against men.
Marcus Fitzalan is riddled with guilt over an accident that changed his
brother's life by putting him in a wheelchair. Now it seems someone is
trying to ruin his brother's railroad, so Marcus will do all he can to
find the person. Getting a job at Jade's home was first on his list;
however, falling for the beautiful scandal was never in his plans.
Marcus cannot believe that the woman he loves is the one creating such
havoc and he will do all he can to save her and the railroad.
PROPER SCOUNDREL is a magnificent read that will entertain readers from
beginning until the end. Each character is brought to life in their on
unique way. Readers will also love the other stories going on in this
wonderful book. Ms. Blair has a truly unique way of grabbing readers'
attention with her stories, leaving readers little time for anything
else until the book is finished. PROPER SCOUNDREL is definitely a book for the
keeper shelf. Tangela Williams
Lady Jade Smithfield is determined to regain a land option that her
grandmother sold to the railroad prior to her death. Not only
does she not want the railroad going through the property, she is
desperate to keep a family secret from coming out. Marcus
Fitzalan’s brother’s railroad must be built despite the accident
that befalls it. Marcus is determined to help him succeed in
this business venture and if he needs to infiltrate Jade’s household
then he will. Marcus becomes her man of affairs and
investigates the accident that is stopping the railroad’s progress.
The focal point of this story is the hero and heroine. They
are well-developed characters. Jade is an intrepid heroine who
is determined to keep the railroad out of her land. She is a
three dimensional woman with flaws. It is her stubbornness and
her grit that keeps her going. She could be described as
eccentric but she stands behind her beliefs. She helps abused
women and children. All of this makes Jade the woman she is.
Marcus finds himself more than a little interested with her - he
falls for her the minute he lays eyes on her. Marcus finds
himself torn between his loyalty to his brother and his newfound
feelings for Jade. It is a tightrope he walks as he tries to
solve the mystery of who is causing all the accidents. Marcus’
good looks and charms count against him in Jade’s eyes but he slowly
wins her over. He is a wonderful hero who can show tenderness.
Marcus and Jade are fun to watch as they try to resolve their
feelings and their perceptions of each other.
This is a believable romance between two very strong and
entertaining leads. With a strong supporting cast, Ms. Blair
weaves a tale that will pull the reader into it. It moves at a
steady clip with a nice blending of suspense and romance.
PROPER SCOUNDREL is another
entertaining story from Ms. Blair. Reviewed by
HISTORICAL NOVELS REVIEW
In 1830 Sussex, Lady Jade Smithfield proudly defies propriety
by wearing trousers, employing only male servants, and using her home as
a safe haven for downtrodden women. Obsessed by a need to keep her dead
grandmother’s secret, she is determined to prevent the South Downs
Railroad from laying tracks near her property.
Marcus Fitzalan wants to save his disabled brother’s railroad, and the
families who will lose their livelihoods without it. Marcus gains the
position of Jade’s man of affairs and secretly investigates the
accidents that have been halting construction. What he finds out about
the accidents, Jade, and her downtrodden women deeply astonishes him.
Jade and Marcus find worthy foes in each other, sparring with words and
passionate embraces, as they both fight to make their ambitions
realized. Only one of them can win.
With a mix of mystery, and just a hint of humor, Blair draws the reader
into a seductive novel sizzling with sensuality and infused with action.
This is a well-written book, with interesting characters and a
delightful story ... a worthy read and a charming romance.