Caught in a Cornish Scandal
Caught in a Cornish Scandal is a standalone Regency era historical love story set in Cornwall and London, and is a mixture of action, romance, and mystery. It features Millicent Lansdowne, a young woman forced to turn to smuggling to save her family, and Sam Garrett, a man unable to remember how he came to be in the sea before becoming embroiled in the smuggling plot. While I wasn’t always Millie’s biggest fan, this was still an easy and enjoyable read and a nice introduction to Webster’s work.
In order to pay a debt incurred by her brother before he died, Millie – who has spent most of her life on the Cornish coast – is trying her hand at smuggling for the first time. The payment sought by the odious man to whom the debt is owed is Millie’s younger sister as his wife, so Millie plans to earn the money in order to repay the debt another way. Unfortunately, her first foray into the world of smuggling does not go as planned. While attempting to meet the boat filled with brandy, Millie saves a man from drowning. The man – Samuel Garrett – cannot remember what happened, but there’s no time to speculate, as they are kidnapped by the very bootleggers Millie was supposed to be working with and taken aboard their ship. Luckily, one of the bootleggers is softhearted (and married to Millie’s friend) and he frees Millie and Sam shortly before the ship is wrecked on rocks near the shore.
As Millie and Sam attempt to reach the beach, the same wreckers begin assassinating every crew member who had made it to land. Millie and Sam barely escape with their lives and spend the night together in a tiny, seemingly abandoned cottage near the coastline. In the morning, they begin searching for clues as to why Sam was in the ocean. Their search leads them on more than one journey as they also begin to fall in love.
Overall, I really enjoyed this book. It is very evenly paced with few slow spots, and I was intrigued by the mystery – and pleasantly surprised to find out the villain was not the person I had expected it to be for most of the story. When I first finished reading, I didn’t think the move from Cornwall to London near the end of the story was necessary, but I have since changed my mind. It is necessary for Sam to see Millie in a different setting so he can appreciate her even more. I didn’t find this section to be the most interesting part of the tale, but I understood why it was there. The smuggling aspect is the best part of the plot and what I enjoyed reading about most. There is just enough danger associated with it to have kept me on the edge of my seat without it overshadowing the romance completely.
We get to know Millie more than we do Sam, as her PoV is used much more throughout, and I liked how she determined she is to keep her mother, sister, and herself afloat no matter how she has to do it. I did not like, however, that she is determined to be a martyr and marry a man she doesn’t love in order to save her sister. I wish we had been given more of Sam’s PoV because I enjoyed what we did get and he’s a great guy. He is a sweet man who isn’t afraid to stand up for others, even if he barely knows them. One of my favorite aspects of the story is Sam’s fascination with Millie because she’s so different from every other woman he knows.
Caught in a Cornish Scandal is a well-paced and easy read. While I did not appreciate a few aspects of Millie’s personality, they were not enough to keep me from enjoying the story as a whole.