Scandal / Carolyn Jewel. 2009

I learned a new word reading this book. That's always fun. It's also great to see another historical from the author of Lord Ruin, a book I really liked. Scandal, by Carolyn Jewel, has received quite a few positive reviews around the web since its release this month and I'm happy to add my voice to the chorus.

I don't have time to write a full review, but let me say that I found this book to be quite fascinating. I had a hard time putting it down once I started. This story of the Earl of Banallt's dedicated, persistent pursuit of Sophie Evans, the widow of Banallt's one-time friend, is moving and emotional. It is told against the backdrop of Napolean's final 100 days--after his escape from Elba, but just before Waterloo. There are reminders in this book, both overt and subtle, that life is precious. The concern about impending war is understated, but I think it serves as an important part of the landscape as we watch Sophie decide whether she's willing to risk her heart, even if she can't be certain it won't be broken yet again.

It's a cleverly crafted book. Banallt & Sophie first met while they were each still married to others. Now each is widowed, but Sophie has no desire to be tied to another man after the disaster of her first marriage. Sophie had not only been a victim of her first husband's careless negligence and infidelity, but also a victim of her powerlessness as a woman in that society. She will not be powerless like that again. Sophie is a strong woman and a very likeable heroine. There are a handful of flashbacks that not only tell the tale of their early relationship, but illustrate how much Banallt has changed by the time he meets Sophie again.

This is also a book about impressions, reputation, and the power of gossip. Banallt is really not the man the gossips like to portray. And even Sophie, who knows him better than most, has a hard time putting the gossip aside. Some of this is due to her own lack of self-worth. But if she can convince herself that the gossip is true, she doesn't have to risk her heart again. I could totally believe her need for self-preservation.

At any rate, well done. Believe the buzz. This is a good book and I happily recommend it.

Today First Comes Marriage by Mary Balogh and Promises in Death by J.D. Robb were released. I have them both in my hot little hands. What to read, what to read....


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