Book 1 in the Scandal series
This book was a disappointment – especially because the first forty pages or so were decent, and I thought I was at least on the track to a C or C+ book. Unfortunately, the book went downhill instead of up. Blake Mallorey, our hero, comes back to England to claim his title (the Earl of Ravenspear) and gain retribution against Charles Ashton – the man he holds responsible for his father’s suicide, and mother + sister’s deaths as well as his own time in the workhouse. His plans include wrecking Ashton financially, by buying up all his loans and calling them in, and socially, by making Ashton’s daughter, Victoria, his mistress. Blake calls on Victoria’s father and explains he will give Ashton a year to raise the money to pay the debts (thus saving him from the poorhouse) if, and only if, Victoria becomes his mistress. Ashton reluctantly agrees much to Victoria's horror. And thus the journey begins.
I had several problems with this book, the first being that I didn’t see into the mind of Blake nearly often enough. In such a delicate situation where Victoria has gone with him unwillingly (he never forces her into bed, FYI) it’s important to see inside his mind to understand that he isn’t a villain, which I had a hard time seeing. I often felt like this was Victoria's fight to escape the clutches of an evil kidnapper, instead of a romance Blake felt terribly over-bearing, and without glimpses at his emotions (just at his ever-present lust) I couldn’t feel the love growing on his side at all. I also hated that he never felt bad about the situation he put Victoria in. He planned on ruining her future – making it impossible for her to marry and have a happy ever after of her own, condemning her to a life of loneliness. That lack of compassion and empathy, and his self-centered short-sightedness, really bothered me throughout the story. He was solely focused on his own revenge and didn’t care what innocents he hurt if hurting them aided his cause. That attitude was NOT okay, and I found myself disliking Blake immensely.
Victoria was mostly a solid, good character until the middle of the book – when she suddenly decides (and it is really sudden) that she’s in love with him and will get in bed with him after all instead of continuing to resist him. I didn’t understand her or Blake’s thoughts or motivations, and I especially didn’t feel their feelings for one another. There was NO love. Literally, zero. Zip. Nada. That was due, in part, to the fact that Gabrielle told most of the story instead of showing which was also infuriating. There were also plenty of character inconsistencies and rapid attitude changes (Victoria’s attitude about sex, Blake’s attitude about Victoria’s Father, Victoria’s brother’s attitude about Blake, etc) that annoyed me. I always feel like the author thinks I’m stupid when he/she writes characters that don’t act true to themselves and behave only to further the plot. Do you think I don’t care? Do you think I’m too stupid to notice? Arg!
There was also the problem of the surfacing of the dreaded… ‘mons’. *cringes* Yes, ladies, it appears. Gabrielle also makes use of the (is it even a word?) word “Yesss” during pleasure/sensual scenes, which frankly just made me laugh. What else? There were several over-reactions and under-reactions, which are part of the character inconsistencies mentioned above and were confusing to boot. Also one of the characters is called both Mrs. and Lady Taddlesworth. Granted, there are about 150 pages between the use of the two different names. But in historicals, where titles are everything, it irked me that such an easily fixable mistake was made. I mean, here I am picturing this well-bred, obnoxious, snobby lady of the ton and you’ve completely switched her character by calling her a Mrs. instead of a Lady. Which is it? Proper editing please! Overall, this book wasn’t good. Really, it was depressing. So much potential… wasted.
“Force Blake Mallorey? Could you have gien me a more difficult task?” (Victoria)
“Sexy”ness rating: There are ‘mons’ and “Yesss”s included. Nuff said.
Overall Rating: D-
Bottom Line: Do not pick this book up. It starts out so good and then fails miserably. I hate false expectations.
Published: September 1, 2009