A Match Made in Scandal
It is obvious that Rachel Bailey loves her work as a civil engineer in Victorian England. She is ostracized by most social circles and must struggle in obscurity in Ireland with her work turned in under the name of a male engineer in her firm. Even so, Rachel, a shareholder in her father’s firm of Donnally & Bailey, perseveres as an engineer – as does Ryan Donally, a self-made tycoon and winner of a prestigious engineering prize.
In addition to her career struggles, Rachel is trying to come to terms with her history with Ryan. She has come to London for a variety of reasons (some of which could have been made clearer earlier in the book), but one of them involves making peace with Ryan. She tries to speak with him in the opening chapter – with devastating results. However, Rachel needs to deal with Ryan in order to shore up her own position in Donally & Bailey, so she continues to see him and, as they work together, Ryan begins to find himself attracted to Rachel.
Ryan has come a long way since he and Rachel grew up together. His holdings in Donally & Bailey are only a minor part of his livelihood and Ryan is now preparing to marry an aristocrat in order to secure his social position. Rachel has her independence to preserve and for a variety of reasons, it appears that a match between these two really could prove disastrous for both. Though I cannot describe it in detail without throwing in spoilers, there is a suspense plot running throughout the hero and heroine’s dealings that is also quite well-done. The suspense plot, together with the tension between Rachel and Ryan, make this book quite an addictive read, especially in the second half.
Rachel is a likable and somewhat flawed character, both intelligent and endearing. It would be easy for someone independent and proud like Rachel to seem cold or distant, but Ms. Thomas makes her heroine very likable and human. As for Ryan, he starts out very alpha, although his tactics go far to explain his success in business. Those with a higher tolerance for controlling behavior from heroes will probably like him more than I did. I did eventually warm up to him, but he was somewhat of an acquired taste.
The author also does a good job of making readers feel as though they have been transported to her characters’ world. Rachel and Ryan are Irish and Catholic in an England that accorded such people second-class status – and Thomas’ characters are conscious of this fact. The author also describes the world her characters inhabit quite well. They are civil engineers and we see them using the tools of their trade and actually looking at plans and walking job sites. The feeling of being let into the daily lives of Ryan and Rachel made them richer characters and their story much more compelling.
Ryan and Rachel’s romance is ultimately very engaging and their world is fascinating. Though part of a series, this book stands alone very well. Anyone longing to escape into another time and place will likely enjoy this journey to Victorian England. Thomas’ writing style is compelling and though the story was a little slow at the beginning, it soon became a tale that I didn’t want to end.