Zebra, $4.99, ISBN 978-0821781502
Historical Romance, 2008
Gabriel Angelstone is a bad boy who likes his lovers fast and dirty. When this story opens, he arrives earlier than expected for a party hosted by his “childhood friend, first love, best friend” Georgianna Exley (whose story is featured in Lord Sin). Fully intending to surprise the Countess for a bit of a laugh, he waits in the garden to pounce… only to realize too late that he has accidentally sneaked up to and grabbed the waist of the wrong woman.
Imogen Mowbray is George’s “titular companion”, which means she walks the dog, feeds the fish, and does everything that glamorous women generally do not do, heh. Not that she is complaining. As a penniless divorcée who has been disowned by her parents, she appreciates the lodging and pay that come with the job. She is, however, not too amused at first when she is accosted by Gabriel, but little does she know that her indignation only makes her more seductive in Gabriel’s eyes. Because Gabriel is here to attend the party, she’s not getting rid of him that easily. Not that she wants to avoid him, if she is honest to herself, because he intrigues her as much as she intrigues him.
This is pretty much the story. The main obstacle to the happily ever after is Imogen’s fears and insecurities that hold her back from fully exploring all kinds of possibilities with Gabriel. Accused of cheating on her now ex-husband, she was literally thrown out of the house by that man. She understandably is still carrying some leftover baggage from that incident. There are some things that you don’t get over and move on from that easily, after all. Ms Hughes has given me a good glimpse into what is going on in poor Imogen’s head. As a result, I can actually sympathize with Imogen as she sometimes takes a step forward to embracing her sexual desires only to take two steps backwards. It’s not easy for Imogen, and I feel that it shouldn’t be.
Gabriel is a more straightforward happy-go-lucky guy, perfect for the role of the naughty fellow who will help Imogen move on from her past. He makes a very nice foil to Imogen’s more reticent personality, pushing her when she needs to be pushed without overwhelming her or becoming too much like an alpha male creep.
In many ways, Lord Scandal is similar to Lord Sin. If you have some problems with the previous book, you may have the same problems with this book as well since the two books share most of the same strengths and flaws. This one has the edge over Lord Sin, in my opinion, because this one has slightly more well-drawn characters in the lead and also because it doesn’t have a cartoon-like suspense subplot.