Monday, November 30, 2009

The Scandals of an Innocent

The Scandals of an Innocent by Nicola Cornick

The Scandals of an Innocent is the second in "The Brides of Fortune" series and the same back round applies so I recommend reading at least some of my review of The Confessions of a Duchess. Alice Lister is a former serving maid whose eccentric employer left her 80,000 pounds after her death so Alice is prime hunting material for all the fortune hunters who have flocked to Fortune's Folly. Lord Miles Vickerey was intent on wedding her to pay of his enormous debts, and after Alice had begun to fall for him he quickly dropped her to pursue a wealthier heiress. When that doesn't pan out he runs off to London and takes up with a courtesan, but is sent back to Fortune's Foley to pursue the escaped criminal Tom Fortune. Since he recently inherited the Marquis-ship of Drum he is faced with even more debts and decides to renew his courtship of Ms. Lister and he has a trick up his sleeve. He threatens to expose her late night thievery of a wedding dress if she does not agree to his marriage and left with the threat of leaving her mother and her friend Lydia Cole, who is unmarried and pregnant, she agrees.

However, her inheritance is not without stipulations and Miles must prove himself honest and upstanding in all his dealings for three months in order for Alice to inherit the money. Alice is convinced he will never survive, but Miles is equally determined to get his hands on the money. The two announce their engagement, to the delight of Alice's mother and the horror of Miles' and Alice's lawyers come up to Fortune to take stock of how "honest" Miles really is. And surprisingly enough Miles does begin to change in very subtle ways even as he attempts to convince himself that he is only doing it to fool the lawyers. Unfortunately his act is very convincing and despite her determination not to, Alice finds herself beginning to fall in love with this new and improved Miles' once again even while she warns herself that he will do nothing but break her heart. It seems that he is indeed once again destined to break her heart, but maybe he will instead end up saving her from the real villains of Fortune who eluded capture by pinning their crimes on Tom Fortune, but will now do anything to stop their identity from being revealed.

I can not think of a single hero who started a book so absolutely unlikable and remained so for quite so long. He left her for a woman with more money and freely admits to wanting Alice purely for her money, and although he is attracted to her and lusts after her, the money is far more important. The blackmail scene made him almost unforgivable as he just kept pushing and pushing her and it was painful to read as he had such an upper hand over her and she had literally nothing to keep herself from falling for his plot. I kept waiting and waiting, and while his feelings for her certainly did begin to grow beyond lust and greed, it was slow and it seemed that, for well over half the novel, he was just as bad as he allowed Alice to believe. While Dexter in "The Confessions of a Duchess" had his mean moments, it wasn't this all pervasive and it was clear throughout it all that he loved her and was just striking out at her for her "betrayal" of him. This is definitely not the case in "Scandal." It got so bad that around the time where his mistress enters the picture I had to put the book down for awhile and read something else. Even though I know he didn't invite her to the event it just seemed like it was one time too many where Alice was just forced face to face with Miles' disrespect for her (as he had taken the mistress after throwing her over).

Miles' awfulness is what made Alice, who had appeared so likable and level headed, not to mention quite an amazing friend, so utterly unlikable in this book. She knew the whole time she was falling in love with how awful Miles' was and she STILL fell in love with him. I really just did not understand that. Or how she could give up her virginity to him minutes after being confronted by said mistress and being told that he had very seriously contemplated sleeping with a maidservant from the village. Some of my favorite parts of the book were reserved for the characters other than Miles and Alice. I was glad we got to learn more about what was happening in Lydia Cole's life after Tom Fortune had impregnated and abandoned her. There was also a very brief side romance between Alice's lawyer, Gaines, and Miles' sister, Celia that was very cute and made Celia seem like a heroine far more worthy of a novel than Alice. The ending was quite shocking as not only had I not suspected the real villains of the crime, I didn't even know the identity of the villain was up for grabs! So kudos for quite the little shocker there.

Rating: The book had its' moments, even some between Miles' and Alice, but Miles' behavior and downright awfulness overshadowed the book.

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