ARC Review – A Nobleman’s Guide to Seducing a Scoundrel

Hello, everyone! Today I’m reviewing a book I’ve been so excited to read, A Nobleman’s Guide to Seducing a Scoundrel by KJ Charles. This is the follow-up to The Secret Lives of Country Gentlemen, which I enjoyed earlier this year.

Major Rufus d’Aumesty has unexpectedly become the Earl of Oxney, master of a remote Norman manor on the edge of the infamous Romney Marsh. There he’s beset on all sides, his position contested both by his greedy uncle and by Luke Doomsday, son of a notorious smuggling clan.

The earl and the smuggler should be natural enemies, but cocksure, enragingly competent Luke is a trained secretary and expert schemer—exactly the sort of man Rufus needs by his side. Before long, Luke becomes an unexpected ally…and the lover Rufus had never hoped to find.

But Luke came to Stone Manor with an ulterior motive, one he’s desperate to keep hidden even from the lord he can’t resist. As the lies accumulate and family secrets threaten to destroy everything they hold dear, master and man find themselves forced to decide whose side they’re really on…and what they’re willing to do for love.

***Thank you to Sourcebooks Casablanca for providing a copy of the book via NetGalley. My review contains my honest thoughts about my reading experience.***

I’ve yet to come across a KJ Charles book I didn’t enjoy reading. Her historical romances always have plenty of intrigue and action alongside a good plot. A Nobleman’s Guide to Seducing a Scoundrel was no different. It had all those elements, as well as the inclusion of some gothic vibes.

The plot of A Nobleman’s Guide to Seducing a Scoundrel was fairly straightforward, but I was invested almost immediately. The first main plot thread involved the machinations of the earl’s family to oust him from his position. The aunt and uncle were truly insufferable and just downright horrible people. I wanted Rufus to throw them out with nothing so, so bad. The story also focused on a treasure hunt inside the family manor, which connected to the first book. I think it took a little too long for this part of the story to become important. Adding some scenes of treasure hunting in the first half of the book would have helped break up the relentless family drama a bit.

While the first book in this series took the characters on a wild adventure throughout Romney Marsh, A Nobleman’s Guide to Seducing a Scoundrel felt more subdued. Most of the story takes place inside the manor. I really loved the descriptions of the old house, and the setting in general. However, the writing didn’t give me the gothic atmosphere I wanted. I wish the author had leaned a bit more into creating those vibes. I did love the focus on family, though, as well as how the story explored the lasting emotional impacts of the events from the first book. The confined setting, along with the emphasis on the characters’ inner journeys, made the reading experience an intimate one.

Little Luke was all grown up in A Nobleman’s Guide to Seducing a Scoundrel. I became so attached to his character in the first book, and I loved getting to continue following his story as an adult. Unsurprisingly, the horrible things that happened to him as a child left some serious scars, both physical and mental. He still had some unresolved conflict with the Doomsdays to put to bed, and boy did he ever know how to hold a grudge. lol. He also used some fairly shady methods to get the restitution he thought he deserved, which caused all sorts of delicious drama.

Rufus, the Earl of Oxney, was in so far over his head. He had no idea how to run the manor, and his family was driving him bonkers by thwarting his attempts to fix things at every turn. I really liked Rufus. He was a good man down to his very core and wanted to do best by all the people depending on him, even the ones who wanted to see him fail. He had a bit of a temper, but it was mostly because he cared so much that people being mistreated really bothered him.

Luke arrived at the manor and ingratiated himself quickly by using his superb skills as a secretary to help put things in order. The relationship between Rufus and Luke was the star of A Nobleman’s Guide to Seducing a Scoundrel. Rufus provided Luke with the safety and love he’s always craved, and Luke helped Rufus see that people were complicated and messy with both good parts and bad parts, which challenged Rufus’ black and white view of the world. Their partnership helped each of them grow and changed things at the manner for the better. As always, Charles also wrote hot steamy scenes that provided a beautiful window into the emotional lives of the characters.

Overall, A Nobleman’s Guide to Seducing a Scoundrel was a great second installment in The Doomsday Books series. I’m not sure if there will be more, but I’d definitely read them. The dynamic between Rufus and Luke had great chemistry, and the treasure hunt in the ramshackle manor was fun to read. I just wish the gothic vibes had been enhanced and the treasure hunt had played more of a role in the first half of the story. Therefore, I rate this book 4.25 out of 5 stars.

Have you read A Nobleman’s Guide to Seducing a Scoundrel? Let me know your thoughts down in the comments!

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