A Breath Of Scandal
by Connie Mason, historical (2001)
Avon, $5.99, ISBN 0-380-80802-1


This isn't too bad. Really, A Breath Of Scandal has no logic when it comes to plot, and sometimes there is no continuity between scenes at all. The characters are cardboard deep and they are as original and refreshing as fish left under the sun for two days. But there's no denying the fun I have reading ABOS and all its bloopy humor.

The plot, or what I can make of it, is this. Julian Thornton, some Earl, is also some sort of secret agent for the Crown. (The way I see it though from this book, a secret agent's duties consist of spying on smugglers once a week, boink-a-thon at the other six days. Nice.) While spying on - what else? - smugglers, using a fake beard to hide his identity, he is captured by the smugglers. Our hero's rippling brawn glory however breaks his bindings and he jumps overboard, his impressive pectorals straining at the tension and his thunder thighs threatening to rip out of those skin tight breeches as he escapes in daring breakaway. Will he get away? Yes he is, look at him go! He's jumping, he's jumping -

Bang! Bang!

Awww.

Our gypsy heroine (with blue blood connections via some melodramatic gypsy-aristo love thwarted nonsense) Lara and her friend Rondo find our hero washed up on shore. She immediately asks Rondo to do his special brand of CPR on the unconscious beefcake.

"Do something. We can't let him die. Press the water out of his lungs." (This is Lara.)

Grumbling, Rondo turned the man over on his stomach, straddled him, and began pumping in and out.

"Keep pumping," Lara urged.

Rondo renewed his efforts and was rewarded when a gush of water spurted from the man's lungs.

For a moment I am very relieved to read the word lungs.

But the smuggler scums are still hot on Julian's tail! (Maybe they want to pump his water too.) And here is where things start getting sticky. Lara decides to marry Julian under gypsy law to protect him. Huh? Why can't she just lie instead of going through the whole silly notion? Oh yeah, heroines can't lie. Silly me.

Julian wakes up, makes a remarkable recovery, and gets all hot and pumpy over Lara. After all, we all know that gypsy women are all hot s***ty kitties who could give the busiest highway a run for its money. But Lara is a virgin - she is an aristo, mind you - and they take it slow. Only three times a day, seven days a week. "I've always heard Gypsy women were hot-blooded creatures," he tells her as a term of endearment, and Lara, who must be an Eminem groupie, falls straight into love. Even though she doesn't even know that he's married or not and he makes it clear that he is not going to stay despite having consummated the marriage.

So Julian goes back to London after a multichapter boinkathon, and then he realizes she has gotten under his skin because he can't get a hard on for any of the society ladies in London. Lara goes to London to live with her father, and when Julian sees her, boy is he mad. What is that s**t doing here? Is she trying to sink her claws in him? (Well, she is married to you, Julian darling...) Worse, is she looking for a protector? S**T! B***H!

Yes, I am definitely reading a Connie Mason novel alright. Nobody makes enjoyably lurid big misunderstandings like this author. But after a passionate reunion of genitalia, the misunderstanding is cleared (aww, shucks), and Julian proposes marriage the Anglo-Saxon way. Reason? He wants their kiddies to be legitimate. And our intelligent hero shrieks, "No! No! No! I may have spread for you, I may even be bearing your bastards at the moment, but no, I will marry only for love! Augh! Augh! Augh! Get out! Get out!"

"You think so? You weren't complaining when I was pumping your water, missie! Maybe I shall perform an encore, heh heh heh... here comes Big Papa!"

"No, no, I hate you, I will not respond, I will not - Oh! Oh! Oh! I will not - ah! Ahhhh! OWWWW!"

I think I need more popcorns. This is fun.

The rest of the story is just as campy. The hero saves the day, captures the smugglers and the Inside Spy, and rescues the heroine. The villain is a complete buffoon - you know the sort. He could have killed the heroine, but no, he wants to ravish her. So conveniently, he doesn't hit her, even thoughtfully waiting for the right moment for the ravishing. (Maybe the violin players are late. Maybe the camcorder is still at the repair shop.) So, the hero has plenty of time to stage the rescue.

Utterly predictable, unintentionally hilarious, and definitely a hoot, A Breath Of Scandal is one of those so-bad-it-hurts-so-good romance novels. If there is such a thing as a spaghetti Regency romance (as opposed to spaghetti Westerns), this book is it.

Rating: 58


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