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Once A Scoundrel    by Candice Hern order for
Once A Scoundrel
by Candice Hern
Order:  USA  Can
Avon, 2003 (2003)
* *   Reviewed by Rashmi Srinivas

Anthony Morehouse is well used to wagering and winning. But he's shocked to learn that his latest victory has won him a women's magazine. He's further stunned to discover that its editor is his old childhood friend, Edwina Parrish, who's naturally furious about the change of ownership. At first, Tony is elated at having bested Edwina, a feat he never managed when they were kids. He then mischievously proposes a wager that will transfer the ownership to Edwina if she wins. When Edwina accepts, the war is on!

Tony begins by teasing, but Edwina's beauty soon tempts him beyond reason, and he also develops a respect for her compassion. Edwina feels the allure of her handsome boss, but fears his feckless, reckless nature. And she has secrets of her own both personal and professional - which are sure to infuriate Tony if he ever discovers them. Edwina daren't risk her heart on a wager and Tony will have it no other way. Will they ever make a match of it?

Candice Hern's historical romance is funny and poignant, a stimulating read, with love and sizzling passion at its heart. Peppered with historical detail, it touches upon the state of literary publications in eighteenth century England. The characters are solid and lovable, particularly the principals. Though Tony at first appears as a frivolous sort of fellow, the author gradually reveals deep and dark layers to this outwardly light-hearted man. Edwina too, is a complex character. Almost thirty, unmarried and a bluestocking (educated) with tendencies towards reform, she is considered an oddity.

Their progression from a competitive friendship to passion and love is a gratifying journey. Engaging side characters (some from previous Hern novels), humorous moments and sexual tension help round out a delightful tale.

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