His Scandal
Grade : B

When I reviewed this book’s predecessor, His Betrothed, I thought it was a fairly average read. I guess I expected much of the same with His Scandal, but was very pleasantly surprised when it turned out to be something I can recommend without hesitation.

While you needn’t have read His Betrothed to understand His Scandal, I found it helped a bit, even though the second book is the better read. More on why in a moment. The first book deals with Viscount Spencer Thornton who had been on a two-year mission, spying on Spain. To keep his absence from London (and the Spanish) a secret, Spencer’s identical twin brother, Alexander, played the part of Spencer . . . to perfection. Alexander looks so much like his brother, and acted so much the part of the Viscount, he fooled all of London, thereby allowing his brother to successfully complete his undercover mission. Now Spencer is a hero, and Alex, the underrated second son once more.

At Spencer’s return, Alex’s masquerade has ended. Now what? Alexander, though identical to his brother in every way, missed being first-born son by mere minutes. That never mattered too much to Alex before, but since playing the part of his brother, he has become restless, unsettled, never more aware in his entire life that he will never have what Spencer has: the title, the land, the responsibility, the respect, the possibilities. Alexander has the reputation of a scoundrel, causing one scandal after another. Why change now? He will always be just second best.

Lady Emmeline Prescott has resigned herself to spinsterhood and to watching over her younger sister, Blythe. Lady Blythe is a rare beauty who attracts much attention after being presented at court, including the eye of Alexander Thornton and his friend Edmund. The two men are bored. They propose a wager. Each will choose an innocent miss for the other to steal a kiss from. For Alex, Edmund selects Lady Blythe. While Blythe is very pretty, she is guarded constantly by her older sister, the decidedly unmarriageable Lady Emmeline. But never mind, a wager is a wager. Alex will get past the first line of defense, and get his kiss from Lady Blythe one way or the other, sooner or later.

The moment Alex and Emmie meet, there is an attraction. But Emmie, lovely though she is, has only been in love once and her father sent the man away, accusing the suitor of being beneath Emmie’s station. The suitors stopped coming, and she soon resigned herself to spinsterhood, looking after her father’s estates, and mothering her younger sister. As for Alex, as the younger son, he, too, is beneath Emmie’s station. So, he resigns himself to getting a kiss from the flighty Blythe, then departing their lives.

The problem is, Alex is so very attracted to Emmeline, that once he gets his kiss, he denies it to Edmund so he can continue in Emmie’s company. Though his kiss with Blythe was sweet, when Alex kisses Emmeline, he realizes her potential for passion and begins to pursue her seriously. He likes her. Her likes being with her. He wants to be around her all the time.

The story of Alex and Emmeline is one of those rare tales where the characters are completely true to their times. Alex does not want to ruin either Blythe or Emmeline. He knows he’s beneath Emmie and doesn’t try to seduce her into bed (even though he wants to desperately). As for Emmie, she does not approach her relationship to Alex with the clichéd attitude, “If only I can have one night of passion to feel what a real woman feels, I will be able to live forever on that one night and yada, yada, and oh, yada . . .” No. In fact, Emmie is fearful that if she succumbs to her lust for Alex, she could become pregnant, so she shows restraint in the face of temptation. Wow. Something smart women have been doing for ages. Emmie is a heroine with more than half-a-brain. How refreshing.

Alex is a wonderful hero. Really. He is not a rogue, he not a scoundrel, he is not an opportunist. He is responsible, and caring, and kind. And when he thinks he might be close to ruining Emmie, he pushes her away. Something responsible males have been doing for ages. Alex is a hero with his brain in his head, and not in his pants. How refreshing.

Alex is tormented by the fact that, when given the chance to be the Viscount, he did a damn fine job. Only his brother, Spencer, is willing to give him credit for it. In the eyes of the London elite, Alex’s part in Spencer’s deception was non-existent. Only Emmeline is quick to point out that Alex is just as much a hero as Spencer.

The setting is not a backdrop, but is realistically integrated with the story. The secondary characters are well developed, too. Blythe, flighty and youthful as she is, is not nearly as unaware as she seems, and her ultimate choice in men hits the mark. And if you’re wondering why Emmeline, so lovely and intelligent, was lacking for suitors, there’s a reason for that, too, and one I suspected from the beginning.

I liked His Scandal very much. I hope you’ll pick it up, read it, and enjoy it as much as I did.

Reviewed by Marianne Stillings

Grade: B

Sensuality: Warm

Review Date : June 5, 2002

Publication Date: 2002

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Recent Comments …

  1. Personal impression is subjective. What works for one person doesn’t always work for others, as we all know. However, when…

  2. I appreciate your comments, I find their tone completely in line with the tone of the review itself, not an…

Marianne Stillings

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