Arend Aubury as the emotionally fractured Frenchman, gorgeous to behold and trusting no-one is a wonderful hero. Lady Isobel Thompson as the step daughter of the despicable Victoria is a beauty inside and out.
Of course the page sizzles whenever they meet and that sizzling increases in fervour as time goes on. (Almost too much sizzle and not enough story.) Isobel's vengeful stepmother Victoria appears to be trying to engineer an engagement between Isobel and Arente. They enter into a mock engagement in an attempt to entrap Victoria.
For those who don't know, Victoria has been systematically trying to destroy the members of the Libertine Scholars to pay for their father's dreadful sins against her (and given the extent of their depravities one can see why she is so gripped with the need for retribution).
The point is that none of the Libertines have been like their fathers. In fact their fathers disgusted them. But Victoria must take her vengeance somewhere. Isobel has become a weapon Victoria will use against Arente.
The Scholars are highly sceptical about Isobel. Is she a willing pawn of Victoria's? Their wives are more generous.
Arente is tortured by his own secrets about his life prior to returning to England, a wealthy man. Unlike when he left. Those secrets, or rather shames, have left him unable to trust or want to trust women. Isobel must fight almost unto death and then some to unearth that trust. Can she however help him to come to terms with his past? I must admit at times I found Arente a little too tortured and his inability to fully trust Isobel a little to drawn. A little to unforgiving of himself and others. But then maybe that's the point of self loathing as he displays it.
This addition to the Libertine Scholars annals rounds off the series, although there will apparently be two more novels featuring other characters that have emerged over time.
A NetGalley ARC