Scandal has a bit of a different start to it compared to the romances I've read in the past. We meet the hero, Banallt, who is just arriving with his friend John Mercer to John's home where John's sister, Sophie, also resides. We find out right away that Banallt is there to win Sophie's heart. Sophie and Banallt have met in the past, when both were married to others, but they struck up a friendship that apparently has turned to love on Banallt's side. He expresses his intent to marry her and I was extremely interested in finding out what exactly happened in the past to make this man almost desperate in his pursuit. Great way to draw the reader in!
The earl of Banallt is no stranger to scandal. But when he meets Sophie Evans, the young wife of a fellow libertine, even he is shocked by his reaction. This unconventional and intelligent woman proves to be far more than an amusing distraction-- she threatens to drive him to distraction. Unlike the women who usually fall at Banallt's feet, and into his bed, Sophie refuses to be seduced. And soon Banallt desires her more than ever-- and for more than an illicit affair.
Years later, the widowed Sophie is free, and Banallt is determined to win the woman he still loves. Unfortunately, she doesn't believe his declaration of love and chivalrous offer of marriage-- her heart has already been broken by her scoundrel of a husband. And yet, Sophie is tempted to indulge in the torrid affair she's always fantasized about. Caught between her logical mind and her long-denied desire, Sophie must thwart Banallt's seduction-- or risk being consumed by the one man she should avoid at all costs...
The chapters flow seamlessly back and forth in time from Sophie and Banallt's past to their present day interactions. We learn that Banallt was a friend of Sophie's husband, Tommy. One night Tommy comes home drunk, passes out in his and Sophie's bed and leaves her to deal with the two strangers in the hallway. The strangers are Banallt and one of his many mistresses. A servant shows the mistress to a guest room and Sophie shows Banallt to a separate guest room. This is where he first makes a pass at her but Sophie is faithful to her husband and slaps Banallt in the face. What a nice first meeting, eh?
Back to the present, both Sophie and Banallt's spouses have passed away so both are free to pursue new relationships. Unfortunately Sophie is too wounded from her past marriage and Tommy's infidelities to trust another man, let alone Banallt. Considering Banallt and Tommy were fans of good ol' debauchery, she has every right to be wary. But something has happened and Banallt is a changed man. He has given up the rake's life and wants to build a life with Sophie. The only problem is convincing her that he will be faithful.
During all this, John is the typical protective brother and warns Banallt away from Sophie. He knows the hurt Sophie suffered during her marriage and with Banallt's reputation he only wants to protect his sister from future harm. John is also rising in his political career and through him Sophie meets a couple of men who also seem to be interested in courting her. There is also a secondary budding romance between John and Banallt's cousin's daughter that I found very sweet.
I read Scandal in two sittings which is very rare for me because of time constraints but I found myself eager to see how it would end. Which brings me to the not so good stuff: there I was minding my own business, happily reading along when something unexpected happened. I am not lying when I tell you my good reading mood was broken when this incident happened. Complete bummer! There were also a few issues I was confused about and since I was in the last days of my NaNoReadMo challenge I didn’t do as much re-reading as I normally would when needing clarification. First, Sophie and Banallt sometimes referenced how horrible Banallt was on the final day they saw each other. I thought he had revealed Sophie's secret occupation but I have since re-read that portion of the book and know it was him making another pass at her. The second issue is what exactly made Banallt decide to turn his life around. I've re-read more of the book and still unsure if there was an actual event that changed his life. Was it the loss of his wife? There is someone else from Banallt's past and I thought it was the loss of that person but that also happened back when he knew Sophie. I thought something major happened to him since their last meeting and that was the reason for the redeemed man.
Aside from that confusion and the incident that bummed me out, I really enjoyed this book. I loved the glimpses (outside of the chapters set in the past) we got of Sophie and Banallt's close friendship like when Sophie sees the painting in Banallt's home and tells him it is as beautiful as he had told her. I love how she knows his little quirks like always tugging on his cravat. My all time favorite line in the book is Banallt describing Sophie when they're in the carriage. I've read a few romances where the heroine isn't the conventional beauty yet has that certain something that attracts the hero but I've never read it described better than this:
He leaned back so that he had a better view of her face. She was one of those women, he’d long ago decided, whose appeal did not lie in repose, but in action, in the change of expression, the quick, intelligent eyes.
I LOVE this description! "…whose appeal did not lie in repose, but in action, in the change of expression…" It is absolutely true. Someone's personality and spirit can definitely shine through one's expression and bring absolute beauty to it no matter what their physical appearance may be.
I've had this book in my TBR pile for a while and am so glad to have finally read it. My new challenge will be figuring out which Carolyn Jewel book to read next.
A very high
Around The Net:
The Book Binge: 4.5 out of 5
Dear Author: A-
Love Romance Passion: 4 - 4.5 stars out of 5
Smart Bitches, Trashy Books: B+
All About Romance: B+
Romantic Times: 4 stars out of 5
The Book Smugglers: 9 out of 10
Romance Novel TV: 5+ stars