A bold woman known as the "duchess of Magnus" was wagered—and won—in a card game. But the woman who arrived was her shy, quiet cousin Eleanor.
Eleanor de Lacy must have been mad to agree to exchange identities with her stronger-willed cousin. She would never convince Remington Knight of the folly of this union—especially since the man seemed so determined for it to take place. Worse still, she finds Remington dazzlingly attractive—and she's charmed by his attempts to seduce her, even though he believes she is already his. But if he ever learns of Eleanor's deception, this daring rogue will wreak havoc . . . upon her reputation and her heart.
Remington had expected a haughty, unbending aristocrat who would ensure his entrance into good society. But this "duchess" is a most pleasant surprise—modest, warm-hearted, endearingly awkward, and a delight to the eye. In short, she is exactly the sort of bride Remington could fall passionately, completely in love with . . .
. . . if he weren't so intent on his revenge.
In this sequel to Dodd's Scandalous Again, we get a follow-up episode regarding what happened to Madeline de Lacy's meek cousin Eleanor after she was foisted (in a way) onto Madeline's intended, Remington Knight.
So if you missed or forgot Book 1, here's the deal. Madeline de Lacy, duchess of Magnus, was promised in marriage to American businessman Remington Knight, after Madeline's father lost a card game to Knight. She goes on the trip to meet up with Knight, her cousin Eleanor in tow as an escort, but en route, Madeline comes up with this plan where Eleanor is to go on ahead and present herself as Madeline, while the real Madeline goes in disguise to another high stakes poker tournament to try to find a way to win back the family fortune her father lost. It's explained in the first book how the two look enough alike to often pass as siblings and often enough have been mistaken for each other, so she figures it's a solid plan. Madeline has every intention of Eleanor only being in this position temporarily, but as it often goes with these kinds of things, the plan in reality turns a lot more complicated than it went in Madeline's mind.
Unbeknownst to either Madeline or Eleanor, Remington is seeking revenge against the de Lacy family, so he knew exactly what he was doing going after Madeline. It is Remington's belief that Madeline's father is responsible for the demise of Knight's family; now Remington is set on taking down every de Lacy one at a time. He hears rumors that Madeline is bold and outspoken in nature, so he's looking forward to the challenge of "breaking" her. Imagine his surprise when "Madeline" arrives but instead of the expected strong-willed, spoiled snob he's looking to train down, he meets with Eleanor's (posing as Madeline) humble, kind, demure way of moving through the world. Remington is also thrown by her bookish tendencies... not something previously attributed to Madeline, as he understood. Regardless, he admits he's looking forward to seducing his beautiful bride-to-be... while also carrying out his revenge plot, of course.
"I thought you would object. I find it easier to ask forgiveness than beg permission."
~ Remington's reasoning on why he bought Eleanor a whole new wardrobe without consulting her on anything
Eleanor likewise comes into this meeting with preconceived notions of Mr. Knight. She's heard this Boston native described as an "American barbarian from the colonies"... but on first sight, her initial impression decides he is "hewn from rugged granite and adolescent dreams". Someone catch this girl, she's falling! LOL Still, she must keep her cool and ride this charade out just long enough for Madeline to arrive and come clean to Knight about all this. Until then.... she'll just have to dodge his questions about her repeatedly speaking in third person.
Madeline's aunt is called in as a chaperone for Eleanor until the wedding date. Knight might throw some sly looks his fiancee's way, maybe a naughty hand once in awhile, but for the most part he wants to keep things above board until the wedding night. But as you'll see, easier said than done with these two. Madeline's aunt naturally realizes it's really Eleanor from the start but for her own reasons she'll later explain, decides to keep mum about it. It's mentioned that Eleanor and Madeline's aunt are not related, so I'm guessing that means Eleanor is a cousin on the father's side?
Eleanor's anxiety doesn't end there. This poor girl spends the majority of the story in fear of having the secret revealed. During one ball, she figures her cover is blown for sure when she runs into a best friend of Madeline but soon realizes the girl won't stop talking long enough to notice it's not really Madeline she's speaking with! In several other moments, Eleanor has the repeated occurrence of people saying "so nice to meet you again", believing they are speaking with Madeline. Eleanor wonders if maybe she might actually pull this off! And then she comes face-to-face with her own evil stepmother. But here again is a relative who seems to have their own motives for going along with the ruse, at least for awhile.
The story in this sequel takes longer to get off the ground than its predecessor, but once again Dodd crafts a truly interesting and cute coupling. There's just the right amount of early dislike, mystery around Knight's background --- Dodd initially writes him as a bit of a thug type, but is he really? --- and there's good character development all around to boot! While Eleanor starts out as the meek, skittish push-over type, it is wonderful to see her find her backbone later in the story. Everyone has their "enough is enough!" line and I inwardly cheered to see a liberated Eleanor find hers. And funny thing, her bold, confident side ends up being a huge turn-on to Remington, much to his surprise! He spends all this time thinking he's going to love training his wife into this broken, submissive thing but sure enough having a woman call him out and say NO from time to time ends up being the unexpected aphrodisiac for him!
The ending was a bit sappy-sappy for my taste, but overall it was a nice wrap-up to the adventures of the de Lacy ladies. Fun, lighthearted escapism... no complaints here!