by Ronda Thompson, historical (2001)
Leisure, $5.50, ISBN 0-8439-4805-1
The premise of Scandalous is such that it could work magic if the author hasn't used tried-and-tested familiar characterizations and plot twists to carry the story. Unfortunately, the author does just that here, sabotaging Scandalous into just another pretty ordinary tale to cross my way.
Our heroine, Christine, is one of those unrealistically selfless Regency heroines, who spends all her time and energy to charity and Will Only Marry For Love. When her kind guardian makes me promise to marry his son Gavin, she of course agrees. Kindness above self, others over self, that sort of thing. What's a loss of control over one's future over some martyr feel-good act anyway? Naturally, Gavin hates the same old man Christine loves.
Christine regains her common sense soon enough, then loses it when she decides that falling into a pool of mud, head first, will scare Gavin off from holding her to her promise. Gavin, not happy to marry a mere commoner in the first place, is horrified. Still, he needs the money the marriage gives him, so he marries her and then runs back to London.
He boinks, wines, and dines happily for three years until lo, one day a beautiful woman cuts a swathe in the ballroom. Could it be...? Yes, it is! It's Christine, now all dandied up and pretty.
Does Christine want revenge? No, she wants an annulment so that she can sell off the house to charity. I wonder such selfless, noble woman like Christine will ever come over and clean my house. She also has to tell Gavin that she has a lover so that he will be driven to break off the marriage. Naturally, this leads to the usual lil' misunderstanding sessions. Put in a stock "misunderstood" rake hero who Wil Never Love Again, an Other Woman right out from Stereotype Hell and Scandalous is right at home in Familiar County. And yes, all the jerk acts of Gavin are okay because he is misunderstood. Christine, whose second name is probably Charity, has no problems forgiving.
I can't stand Christine's exaggerated charity. A woman like this is a waiting case of free-for-all exploitation. That's bad enough, but when Scandalous piles up on the deja vu, I have an even harder time trying to dig into this story. Scandalous is just mediocre.
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