His Scandal
by Gayle Callen, historical (2002)
Avon, $5.99, ISBN 0-380-82109-5


This is an Elizabethan romance that is the same old, same old love story between a rake and an "innocent" (read: dingbat). Fans of Connie Mason will surely recognize to the oversexed, boorish, ill-mannered hero Alexander Thornton - he's a vintage Mason hero. I have no idea why one would find a drunkard who paws every waitress that passes him by in cheap taverns attractive, but hey, to each her own.

Alex, who of course has some sad sob story to excuse his behavior, takes a wager that he will win a kiss from Blythe, Emmeline's sister. To get to silly airhead Blythe, he must wear down the protective defenses of the big sister first. Naturally, he will soon want to kiss Emmy and then more. That's basically the plot. There's not much external elements here, so if you ask me, the drama and emotional stuff and all have better be good or I'll tune out.

To be fair, Alex, after pawing the buttocks of too many cheap floozies for his own good with his wet, clammy paws, does clean up decently, even if I am not convinced one bit of his sincerity. Emmy, on the other hand, is strictly girly. She sees him acting all boorish and Neanderthal, and what do you know? She is turned on. Oh, he is so hot! She spies on him and the waitress of that Elizabethan Can-Can Inn, and she actually wants his hands on her buttocks and his ale-smelling mouth on hers! Well, like I said, to her each own. Have they invented toothpaste in those times yet?

So our heroine, when she discovers that Alex has been writing fake, insincere courtship letters to Blythe, is vexed. Ooh! But she just can't write a letter back telling the man to fog off, oh no, she must take the place of her sister in the proposed night rendezvous - just to tell him off, of course. Guess what happens. And yes, she really likes those wet paws, even though she will never tell him, never, even when he's so hot. (I hope he bathes daily.)

It is very hard to buy this story when both the main characters act like silly kids. He is one spoiled brat who believes that women should fall in line for him and sulks when they don't. Emmy just flounces and huffs and pouts but she just can't seem to do something intelligent for once. This romance is as deep as Archie and Veronica's summer fling.

Still, there are some genuine attempts to portray these two characters as slightly more mature in the last few chapters, although it's a tough buy as those two have acted so childishly for too long. I don't find His Scandal bad in any sense - it's readable, but then again, it's just a story of two silly kids sniffing at each other's butts like doggies in heat. Kids. They'll learn.

Rating: 67


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