Bridget Cooke possesses the gifts London society prizes: genteel manners, intelligence, an exquisite figure. She lacks, however, a fortune. A companion to icy relatives, Bridget resigns herself to a life of solitude, especially because of the childhood scar that mars her lovely face. Little does she expect to receive the vigorous attentions of darkly handsome, rich widower Lord Ewen Sinclair, Regency England's most infamous rake.
In a matter of days, the Sinclair whisks Bridget to the altar and into his passionate embrace. Dismissing the vicious rumors surrounding their hasty marriage, Bridget is sure of Ewen's love, even when he is mysteriously called away. But then a shocking secret from his past emerges, threatening her happiness. If Ewen is a cad and their wedding a lie, as the gossips say, then why does Bridget's very stubborn heart still believe his love is true?
I've heard so many good things about this book that, in my mind, it was up there with favourites like Lord of Scoundrels or Heartless. Unfortunately, after having read it, I thought it was an ok read but not an outstanding one. In fact, with a title like The Cad, I was expecting a far tougher hero than the one I got.
But there is much to like in The Cad. First we have an original heroine. A lot of heroines have imaginary or common flaws, but this one actually has a scar on her face that makes people notice her and stare. The hero is a rake, usually interested in beautiful (and so perfect) women he finds himself attracted to Bridget and decides to pursue her. As she doesn't go about in society he has to pretend to court her cousin, who she is chaperoning, so that he can be close to her and get to know her better.
His main interest his to make her his mistress but Bridget´s strength of character eventually leads him to propose marriage and convince her to accept. To do so Bridget has to cut her ties with her family and, in a way, be at his mercy. Bridget is a fragile character in what concerns her looks, it's heart wrenching to see her so happy when a couple of actresses teach her to use make up to disguise her scar. She feels whole for the first time... and beautiful. And although Ewen was right that she did not need it to be beautiful to him that way he said it was painful to read.
Their wedding is attended by only a small group of people, and no one of Bridget's family, and there an aura of mystery surrounding it. The need for a quick wedding is explained by Ewen with the need to visit his ailing father. After wards they travel to his country home for some days honeymooning and although Bridget feels very happy and secure eventually Ewen is called to town and they are separated.
While they are separated Bridget keeps her faith in Ewen but eventually we start seeing that all is not well. First Bridget and Ewen have taken under their wing a young girl and her sister comes to collect her because she doesn't want her spending time with a courtesan, eventually she tells Bridget she doesn't believe that Ewen really married her. Then Ewen's cousin arrives with his courtesan and friends in tow and at first mistake Bridget for a mistress instead of a wife. Then a lady arrives claiming that she is Ewen's true wife and Bridget is just someone he duped to be able to bed her. By this time we already know that Ewen is involved in a mission for the Foreign Office and that he would very much to return to Bridget but his boss doesn't let him.
So, I think the biggest flaw of this book is that, after a great start, everything is set to make us believe that Ewen is not an honourable man, that indeed he is duping Bridget and playing her for a fool, and in the end the truth is far from that. I think too much attention is given to his first marriage and Bridget ends up going through some painful situations because of that. It is hard to believe that her servants would behave the way they did towards her and the complicated plot surrounding Ewen's first wife seemed a bit too much to be believable. I loved Ewen and Bridget when they were together but the time they spent apart and the kind of misunderstandings that came out of it were almost too much to bear.
I did like Gilly and Betsy very much, I think I've read somewhere that they have their own books and I am quite curious to discover their stories...
Grade: 4/5 just because I usually like Layton so much.