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The Secrets of a Scoundrel by Gaelen Foley

Saturday, March 21, 2015

The Secrets of a Scoundrel
Inferno Club #7

Gaelen Foley
Historical Romance
Published in 2014

H/h - Lord Nick Forrester/Virginia, Lady Burke
Setting: Scotland and France, 1816.

Read in October-March, 2014.
My rating:

                                                        [spoiler alert]

Ok! I finished Secrets of a Scoundrel, book 7 of Inferno Club by Gaelen Foley after languishing for couple of months, mostly because I’m a sucker for punishment. I know I’ve exhausted this but this series was a disaster full of melodrama, annoying characters with over the top storyline, almost on the verge of being silly. If I say I was disappointed to the point that I’d be thinking twice before picking up her new stuff, it’d be an understatement. It took me 2 yrs. to pick up the series because book 5 blew my mind. It was that horrible. Book 7, unfortunately, had nothing better to offer.

To recap in a nutshell, the series revolves around a bunch of rakehells. The society knows them to be a part of a club called The Inferno Club. They give the illusion that Dante House, where they meet, is their ‘playground’; a den of debauchery. Well, Dante House is a mixture of debauchery and something far more secretive. What the others don’t know is that they’re spies for the Crown; a special breed of spies who were trained since early childhood, sort of ‘sacrificed’ by their families to become a part of an Order; the Order of the St. Michaels. They had an ancient nemesis the Promethean Council. We’re talking about thousands of years of enmity here, the Prometheans trying to unleash their evil on the world and rule it, while the heroes of the Order trying to save it from their clutches.

The original 4 members that had the first 4 books were the Marquess of Rotherstone, the Duke of Warrington, the Earl of Falconridge and the Earl of Westwood.

Max and Daphne’s story is in My Wicked Marquess, book 1 that started it all. It was alright. I gathered a starter of a series is always a bit confusing, so it was an ok read.

Rohan and Kate’s story is in My Dangerous Duke,  was one of my least favorites. He was the first manwhore of the bunch and the whole story was a mess. I kept going back to the series to know where the conflict between the Order and the Council is going.

Mara and Jordan’s story, book 3, was My Irresistible Earl, which I really enjoyed. Their chemistry was amazing, as were the characters wonderful. For the first time, I saw some hope for this series... Unfortunately, not. Though the action was good, I had probably expected way too much.

Drake and Emily’s book, #4 was My Ruthless Prince. This was going to be the big showdown between the Order and the Council, with all sorts of intrigues and actions. I actually thought this to be the last installment, with maybe a spinoff series from it following the rest of the secondary characters.

But My Scandalous Viscount came as a part of the series. It was THE horrid book #5 I was talking about earlier, which featured Beau and Clarissa. He was a junior member of the Order, who had been handed down some serious responsibilities when the Promethean Council was destroyed. But from what I saw, he was busy shagging anything that moves in skirt on every nook and cranny (yuck). The story also veered away from the main course. We come to learn about 2 more junior Order agents, Trevor and Nick, who were never introduced before. It seemed both were in trouble. Nick wanted out of the Order, which is a big no-no, so he did some crappy stuff, including holding a wounded Trevor as a hostage to gain his freedom; a plan that ultimately backfired. In the end, after a conspiracy was foiled, the Order’s identity is also revealed to the world. All the agents, including Nick and Trevor, are then recognized by Prinny and given the respect and rewards as that of heroes.

When I started My Notorious Gentleman, book 6, I didn’t expect anything grand from it. Trevor was an underdeveloped character. Grace, the h, wasn’t introduced in any other books, so she was a newcomer as well. Overall, it was a breath of fresh air as even the secondary characters were new, with a storyline in no way connected to the Order business. It flowed smoothly without any headache-inducing melodrama. Grace, a vicar’s daughter, was just the type of smart yet sweet thing Trevor needed for sure. I was honestly surprised by just how much I enjoyed it, which gave me hope that maybe, just maybe Nick’s book would be a great adventure.

Adventure it was, though not great by any means. It was just... predictable and boring. Worse is, I actually kinda liked Nick until he went and ruined it himself. But the h, Ginny was another matter entirely. She was TSTL and NOT the type of h Nick needed IMO. And she had an equally nutty-headed son who’d go and get himself in danger much like his mother. These two were like trouble-magnets (there’s no compliment hidden in this statement), so much so that I kept thinking if they’re even sane. I could excuse the boy a little since he was only 15, but his mother who likes to call herself ‘strong, smart and independent? I think NOT.

The story starts right from where book 6 left off. Nick was languishing in the Order dungeon cell without much hope of a rescue. He and Trevor had already made peace about their past. Trevor was even of a mind to try and do his best about Nick’s release when suddenly, one day, the opportunity arrives at Nick’s cell in the form of a tall, curvy redhead; just what Nick would like to have after long days of celibacy. Oh he’s the ‘bad boy’ of the Order, also the seasoned assassin. Though good-looking, he was more of the sullen type, always getting himself into trouble. Yep, trouble is his middle name. But you can also call him ‘Order manwhore’ #3 (after Rohan the Big Daddy and Beau, Mr. ShakeYourTailFeather... LOL). There were some tales of Nick’s various indiscretions in book 5, alongside Beau’s, though I couldn’t tell apart. They’re pretty much interchangeable, just as the women they liked to share. All in the name of the King and the Country.

Yah right!

Now this woman in her early to mid 30s is as comely as they can be, and Nick’s ‘radar’ is certainly, er, engaged. She, very calmly, introduces herself as Virgil’s daughter and a widowed Countess. Now what a min., Nick thinks, Virgil had a daughter?! Virgil was the head of the Order, the trainer of these agents, who was killed by his own son in book 4. The son got his just reward as well. But never, once, Virgil confided in any of his boys that he also had a daughter! (I say for good reasons, seeing how they can’t keep their pricks in their pants.) Virginia was the result of his affair with a countess. And though she grew up in the household as the daughter of her mother’s husband, Virginia’s mother very proudly discussed her infidelity with her, even introducing her to her real father at a young age. From then on, Virginia’s only dream was to follow Virgil’s footsteps, and becoming an Order agent. Yah, you read it right. She wanted to be an Order agent, which, of course, Virgil wouldn’t allow, nor would he let her meet the other boys in training. Again, for very good reasons.

Anyhoo, back to the present. Virginia has a proposition for Nick. She needs his help on something and in exchange, she has arranged with the greybeards (the Order elders) to set him free under her charge. But Nick must remember that he has to abide by her rules in the whole business. Any trouble and back he’d go to his dark, dank cell. The whole proposition sounded magical in Nick ears, but no less than the tantalizing female who’s offering it. Even if she’s Virgil’s daughter, she a widow, and Nick certainly knows about them! But in all seriousness, he just wants to get out of this bloody cell and breathe in the fresh air once again.

Virginia, whom I’m gonna call Ginny henceforth, is positively vibrating with excitement seeing Nick after a long time. Oh yah, she’d seen him once at 17 when she snuck out of her house to follow Virgil to his training place. She has been obsessed with the guys ever since, and Nick has been the center of her obsession. So when she heard of Nick’s problems and that he might be in dire need of help, she couldn’t stay away. It’d also serve her own purpose, the investigation on a slave ring with the clues she’s gathered so far. Nick, due to his extensive spy work, would certainly have info to spare. But more than anything, she’s just awestruck at the big warrior with the big, muscular body, just like the teenage girl she was. In fact, I never felt that she grew up much since 17 when I gradually began to know her better. She was still impetuous and immature and when it came to the Order agents, she was just completely crazy. I understood that she might’ve had an obsession when she was an impressionable girl but people do grow up. In Ginny’s case, that didn’t happen.

I begin despising Ginny the moment I read that she married her husband of a very short time to teach some other debutante a lesson. She had no love, or even liking for that guy who genuinely was into her. She basically seduced him and staged to get caught to snatch him away from that other girl. Ginny being attractive even at 17 helped her dubious cause. But soon, the husband caught on and knew how he was duped. Somewhere in the story, if I remember correctly, she even goes as far as to say that she could barely ‘tolerate’ his touch. The guy was obviously very hurt and left her for India(?) where he died a couple of months later, leaving Ginny a wealthy widow. She was practically relieved by the news! Ginny already had a son, Phillip, from that union. Then she lived her life however she saw fit, sleeping with whoever she felt like.

Apparently, to ally her curiosity, Virgil had given Ginny some education on the unique he’d code created to communicate with the agents. Ginny was competent enough to decipher it. This also gave her some air-headed idea to think of herself as a lady agent or something. In the past few years, she’d been investigating smaller cases to prove it for a fact. She had the money and resources on her side too, but I don’t think she ever did any grunt work since there were people working for her. A few months ago this new case came to her and Ginny has been trying to find the girl’s trail. It wasn’t an elopement as her investigation so far tells her. Then she found out about the criminal auction in a market called the Bacchus Bazaar where all the criminals of the world gather to auction off not only human flesh but also whatever illegal thing they can put their hands on. Everything pointed to that auction, which Nick confirms that he has a very good idea about. He used to have a pseudonym called Jonathan Black in his Order days to secretly work as a mercenary. It also gave him a ruse to get intel on the criminal world. When he’s cleaned up and has had his fill of food and rest, Nick and Ginny get down to the business of discussing the kidnaps, but not without the flirtation and the ‘come hither’ looks.

Phillip, the ‘pup’ as he was called by Nick, is send back from the school, for the umpteenth time, where he, again, set about to prove that he’s THE MAN. His head is full of air about him being Virgil’s grandson, thanks to his mother, which meant going and doing whatever he thought was the right thing. He’s instantly angry to find another of her mother’s ‘gentlemen friends’ residing at their home. But the moment he learns that Nick is, indeed, one of the Order agents trained by his grandfather, Phillip instantly becomes the eager puppy. His mother was already obsessed, now the son was too; a complete hero-worship from both sides. Nick could laugh, but he also liked attention and there was no shortage of that here. Now, if only he could get what he really wanted from the beautiful mistress of the house! But he can wait. After all, it’s Virgil’s daughter and he needs to curb his impulses where she’s concerned.

There was something that Ginny was holding back from Nick, wondering if he’ll find her callous (and she was) once he learns of it. She had this pretty boy secretary called John Carr who made off with Virgil’s diary, written in his code, which held very many Order secrets. Ginny was trying to decode it and learn more about the Order. Carr, who wanted her ‘favors’, got rebuffed because she felt he was too young for her. So according to Ginny, Carr stole the diary to tick her off and to earn money by selling it to the enemies. When all their investigations suggested that they leave for France (initially Nick wanted to go alone but why would Ginny stay behind when ‘danger’ is calling her name?), she decides to deal with it once she gets there. I don’t remember how she knew Carr would be there with the diary but there it was. Being true to her TSTL self, Ginny was pretty sure she could handle it ALL by herself. And it smells of DANGER! So they set sail for France without Nick knowing anything about the missing diary. He knew of Carr and was jealous already (not sure why when he’d slept with more women than he can count). They leave the ‘pup’ at home with an order that he stay there, but of course, the boy was a mirror image of his mother. In more ways than one, and none of it was complimentary. *snort*

I could end the review here by saying the rest was a big, fat eyeroll but hell, since I’ve already started... *shrugs*

At France, of course, Ginny and Nick had to jump into bed. They wanted to shag for sometimes and without Phillip in toe, it seemed the best opportunity. They also start talking about their life before, where Ginny confesses about how she despised her husband, and how obsessed she has been with the Order agents since her teenage years, which only served in solidifying my dislike of her. Again, it was so shallow and immature, not to mention, selfish that I couldn’t hide my distaste. Nick was just flattered that she has had her eye on him for that long, typical. After that, they make plans on how to get into the Bacchus Bazaar with Nick’s help. This is also where Ginny had to tell Nick about John Carr’s treachery and the new problem ahead of them. Now Nick has several things that he has to take care of; Bacchus Bazaar, the diary, John Carr, and last but not the least, the TSTL that accompanied him.

Don’t ask if I was still eye-rolling cause it’d be a moot point.

In a matter of few pages, they conveniently track down John Carr, who manages to get away from Nick and the French frog Lemarque who was after the diary. Carr is injured where Nick got himself into a fight to save it. Ginny, of course, rides herself in the middle of... that’s right, all that DANGER! Thanks to her, a distracted Nick is horribly injured himself. In desperation, Ginny tells Lemarque that she can decipher the codes. Thinking he has already taken care of Nick, Lemarque grabs Ginny and leaves the scene. Carr returns later to save Nick by taking him to the hotel they were staying. As if the pain from the wounds weren’t enough, to his utter horror Nick discovers Phillip has landed in France. He’s now in the same hotel, demanding answers to where his mother was like the spoiled brat her was. Oh well, don’t look at me, I already warned you. Now Nick has another added inconvenience to take care of. *tsk tsk tsk*

So far, it was the annoying part and now comes the disgusting part of the story. Nick didn’t know where to turn to because he was concerned about Ginny’s safety. He also needed to get into Bacchus Bazaar with a solid plan. And so, we find ourselves reading the Return of Madame Whore (story in book 5). In short, this aged French prostitute, who is also the proprietor of all things shady, has a big brothel somewhere in France. She was also working with the Order providing them with information. In return, all she wanted was the Order d!cks, whoever was willing to give it to her. Unsurprisingly, all the Order manwhores were her boy-toys; Rohan, Beau and Nick. Actually, Nick has been her on and off boy-toy for a long time. He hasn’t been here since his imprisonment, so, when Nick, seeing no other option, visits her for help, she can’t keep her hands off of him! Her dry va-ja-ja needed action, so she tries cutting a deal; she’d help only if he gives her some. Unfortunately, Nick’s ‘action set’ had a mind of its own too and decided it has had enough of Madame Whore for a lifetime. Besides it was now obsessed with the new lady, so completely denies ‘rising to the occasion’. Madame Whore is so unhappy, she starts venting. And she won’t help him! But fortunately, there was the pretty boy John Carr, so Nick was able to exchange him for Madame Whore’s help.

(don’t think I enjoyed typing this part but it had to be done *sigh*)

That was so... OH MY GOD! Nick was on the verge of sleeping with that slut, again with the same crap excuse of anything to see a job done, when he’d already slept with Ginny. I may not have liked her, but that was almost cheating to me! I didn’t know what to think, especially when Nick thought that Madame Whore and John Carr deserved each-other. How so? I thought you deserved both Ginny and Madame Whore because you’re pathetic. Then again, I don’t think Ginny would’ve minded. She’d probably ask the slut to show her some new techniques to practice with Nick; all of it in her presence. Ugh.

In another part of France, Ginny was being manhandled and forced by Lemarque to decipher the code. She tries her best to put it off but her ploys don’t work. Lemarque gets angry at her mouthy self and rebellious behavior. He beats her up and then sells her to the slave trader headed towards Bacchus Bazaar, who is also, coincidentally, the same man Ginny and Nick were after; Rotgut. Nick here loads up his own ship bound for the place where the Bazaar is held, taking Phillip with him. Now, every time that brat would act as if he’s a little Order agent or Nick would think of him that way, I just wanted to bang my head on to something. I mean, c’mon! He was a completely undisciplined, immature idiot. The little sh!t who once insinuated his mother for a slut because of her ‘gentlemen friends’. Seesh! Future Order agent my a$$!!

And so, I began skimming. There wasn’t anything that especially caught my attentions... oh wait, there was! It was Nick kissing Ginny, more than once, after she’d been held in the dank, dark, and dirty underbelly of that slave ship with the other girls. For WEEKS! Don’t think I have to explain that they weren’t treated as Royalties, so I kept wondering the state of her personal hygiene and how was it possible for Nick to use his tongue inside her mouth, let alone hug her and think her beautiful. I felt a big gag coming so just skimmed through a little faster to finally be done with this travesty.

Final verdict: This is the final installment of Inferno Club, Hallelujah! *throws confetti*

2 stars and not recommended.

PS: I just hope there isn’t any spinoff coming, especially not with Phillip as a lead character. Just NO.

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Punya
I'm a simple girl. I love to read in my spare time and do reviews the books I read. I also write, mostly songs/poems, though I'm not published. I love music and traveling. Sometimes, I wish I could live inside a book, having my own HEA. :)
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