The Year of Living Scandalously
This first book in a new series called The Secrets of Hadley Green is a story of good intentions gone terribly, terribly wrong. The book features interesting characters, missing jewels, and a mystery to solve.
Keira Hannigan expects to see the world when her cousin Lily Boudine becomes a Countess in her own right. Keira immediately believes that she will travel to Italy in Lily’s place as Lily goes to claim her inheritance in England. However, when her cousin asks her to fill in for her at her new estate, Keira reluctantly agrees since the estate holds terrible, dark memories for Lily. The people of Ashwood mistakenly believe that Keira is their new Countess and as important decisions must be made that only Lily can make, Keira accidentally traps herself in an unwanted role. She hopes to pull off the charade until Lily arrives. She thinks she’s safe until she sees Declan O’Conner, a man she’s known her entire life.
Declan knows Keira is up to something irresponsible since her actions are behind the reason he’s avoided going home to Ireland for any length of time in the last eight years. However, the fact she’s impersonating a Countess floors even him. As events unfold, he finds himself continuously at her side as they try to finds answers to many unsettled questions that surround Ashwood and the village of Hadley Green, as well as resolve Keira’s problem. Though his feelings for her grow, he isn’t sure he wants to surrender his freedom.
Ms. London is a skilled writer and convinced me Keira’s actions were the product of bad circumstances rather than behavior that falls into the TSTL category. The heroine – who has good intentions behind what she does – makes mistakes, regrets her actions, but doesn’t make any whitewashed excuses for them. At one point the hero tells her that she’s made some really bad decisions and I liked it; I really liked it. Put simply, I liked the heroine because she felt real. Sometimes we all get in over our heads and she certainly did that. Also, I appreciated the fact that things don’t end perfectly for Keira or for Lily.
Though I enjoyed the story, I didn’t like the impersonation premise or the fact that the prologue isn’t about the heroine and likely sets up other stories within the series. I’m embarrassed to admit I was confused about who the heroine was to being with. Also, I worried about the probability of an impersonation of this magnitude, whether or not it was actually possible and the legal ramifications of getting caught, instead of becoming engrossed in the story. There were certain plot points that slowed the story down, as well like the hero’s resentment of the heroine as a result of something that happened when she was sixteen. It became almost as annoying as his persistent, almost immature, desire for freedom.
The Year of Living Scandalously is an enjoyable story where characters face difficult circumstances, while remaining true to their characterizations. Plus, poor Lily leaves me quite intrigued and I look forward to seeing how she handles her own complicated path.