Warner Forever, $5.99, ISBN 0-446-61131-X
Historical Romance, 2004
Scandal very nearly becomes the third consecutive keeper of mine by Pamela Britton. For the first half of the the story, I am having the time of my life laughing with the unusual characters in the author’s latest Regency historical. The author’s way of bringing to life absurd scenarios serves her very well, to the point that me, a dog person, is giggling at the opening scene of Charles Reinleigh Drummond Montgomery, the future Duke of Wroxly, accidentally squashing his uncle the Duke’s terrier. Forgive me, doggies, but it’s not my fault, dammit!
When the Duke realizes that Rein is going to inherit his title after the Duke’s son dies in a duel, the Duke quickly changes his will so that Rein will have to live for a month incognito without touching his money or property before Rein can get his wastrel paws on the Wroxly fortune. Never mind, Rein is always up for a challenge. That is, until he realizes that he’s going to have to live for a month in St Giles. Okay, never mind, he’s still up for the challenge.
“Up” is the operative word as he will learn when he gets his winds knocked out, thanks to a kite that Anna Rose Brooks is testing on her rooftop. Anna used to be a happy daughter born to a moderately well-to-do parents and she delighted in designing boats that she could only hope to one day sail. Now an orphan, she is forced to live with an increasingly senile uncle. She sells kitchen tools at the market by day, working on sail designs by night, and dreaming of saving enough money to get out of St Giles 24/7. That’s one thing I like about Anna: sure, she is a financially-strapped heroine, nothing new, but she’s at least doing something to help herself.
When Anna’s kite hits Rein, Rein uses amnesia as an excuse to get free lodging and the companionship to a beautiful lady. Later he will up the ante to get Anna into his bed. Hmm, what a rogue. Seduction works both ways though and Rein won’t be getting away unscathed from his antics. Love may have to wait when they realize that Anna’s life may be in danger.
While St Giles can get a little too benign and even homely at times, I have plenty of fun reading about Rein and Anna. For a long time, Rein is a rake but he’s also a nice hero who has the charm but little of the smarm that comes from using his past to justify his nonsense. He’s a rascal and he stays true to his charming nature. He uses his charming and ne’er-do-well facade to make up for all those insecurities about his lousy memory (I know, a man with poor memory pretending to have amnesia – cute, huh?) drummed into him by his strict disciplinarian father, among others. Anna is a great heroine in that she’s smart (if not too smart where Rein is concerned) and sensible without indulging in more typical too-stupid heroine antics at first.
At first, that is. Towards later, Scandal becomes considerably weaker when the characters, especially Anna, begin behaving often irrationally just to bring about the grand denouement. And as per my problem with the author’s previous book Tempted, the hero spend more time expressing his lust in terms of his erection when I’d prefer to read a little bit more about how his heart is feeling. These problems, while minor on their own, come together to bring about too many contrived conflicts and characters reacting in silly manners that have become unfortunately typical of too many historical romances. Scandal ends in a subdued note compared to its unrepentant energetic and boisterous beginning.
Ms Britton’s ease with humor is easily her strongest point about her writing and the fact that her characters are refreshing twists on romance archetypes only make her work more enjoyable. Scandal, while heartily entertaining, suggests that the author may have to work a bit to make sure that she manages to keep the momentum going throughout the entire story from start from finish.