Book: Scandal by Carolyn Jewel
The view from halfway through
Yes, you read that right, do you think I'm a sucker? Do you think I will fall for your little trick of making your heroine Sophie a writer and lover of trashy books? The poor girl, nearly ruined by her no good husband, scribbling away at night, publishing under a secret name, having to hide her unladylike pursuit from from society? Yes, apparently you think I will be easily enchanted by all of this.
And you are right! I'm totally enjoying it. I'm eating it up. I love reading about lady authors.
And Banallt, what a great hero. It's not enough that you give him such a cool name, or make him the reformed rake--no, you make him a fan of Sophie's trashy novels. How can I resist?
Scandal toggles between two time periods: 1812, when Banallt was still a rake and first met Sophie, and 1815, when they meet again and Banallt's reformed but Sophie doesn't believe it.
The fun writer scene
There's this great scene that takes place in 1812 when Banallt is staying in Sophie's home as a guest of her drunkard, soon-to-die husband and Banallt discovers this manuscript Sophie's been working on and she discovers him reading it, and she's horrified he'll realize she's this authoress. They have this wonderful exchange where all she wants is for him to put down her manuscript and leave her, but he won't let go of it.
When she finally confesses her pen name, it turns out he has read and loved nearly all her books.
Lord Banallt sat up. He was still holding her pages, drat the man. "Not The Murder of Gilling Fell?"They go back and forth a bit until slowly, she realizes what a dreadful mistake she'd made putting her secret in the hands of a man like Banallt. She begs him not to tell her husband or anybody. There's this little power dance, and a kind of insinuation creeps in that perhaps he'll be silent in exchange for certain sexual favors, but then he assures her, "Your secret is safe with me, Mrs. Evans."
"You've read it?" Her heart leaped.
He brought in his legs and leaned toward her. "Can this be so? The authoress of The Desert Corsair and The Orphan of Hopewell Moor sits beside me?
"I'm astonished," she said. Despite herself, she was immensely flattered. "You've read my books?
She stepped back and hit the chair. He caught her upper arm, steadying her. He leaned closer. "Lovely, sad little Sophie Mercer Evans," he said in the voice of Satan himself. "When I take you to bed, I assure you, it won't be because I've coerced you. It will be because you want to be there."Oh, what a proper thing for a rake to say!
How to tell if your other suitor is WORTHLESS
Then, as if this isn't enough, in the 1815 timeline when Sophie is a widow, there's this quite suitable Duke by the name of Vedaelin vying for her affections. Here is all you need to know about him--when he and Sophie discuss the fate of a young heiress being duped by a gold digging cad, Vedaelin says:
This, Ma'am, is what comes of a girl whose reading is not strictly regulated."Yeah. Say no more, Vedaelin. It's not like the novel thing takes central stage here, but I love how it's used. Half through, Scandal is completely and totally delivering on a lot of the reasons I love Regencies - the world of clothes and carriages and rules, and the nobility of the heroes. All so very delicious.
She [Sophie] turned to a path less crowded. Vedaelin followed. "How so?" she asked.
"Horrid novels, Mrs. Evans." His expression of revulsion told her everything she needed to know about his opinion of such works.
Proper reviews: Isn't It Romance, Renee's Book Addiction, Book Binge, Dear Author; Paintings from Wikipedia commons: portrait of Queen Caroline of Naples by Giuseppe Cammarano; portrait of Adam Mickiewicz by Walenty Wańkowicz.