Wednesday, December 15, 2010
Scandal of the Season
When Anthony Somerton discovers that his deceased mother is actually alive and well and running her own brothel, he is distraught. He runs straight into the arms of the captivating orange seller and in a drunken stupor he has sex with her and while his memory of the night isn't the best he knows that he raped her. He asked for help from his illegitimate half sister, Sophia, a famous seer, who promises to tell him the orange seller's name if he helps her arrange marriages for her friends. When that is done, she reveals the name, but it is to Victoria Seaton, the plain and spinster-ish vicar's daughter who runs the orphanage. It does not take him long to discover that Victoria is actually Anne Smith, his lovely orange seller, and her status has changed dramatically since then. He thinks the only way she could have made enough money is through pickpocketing, which he knows she is quite adept at, and whoring herself and he wastes no time in enlisting her in his next government mission.
Anthony has been hired to go to a house party hosted by the Earl of Farleigh and intercept a note being given to Lord Hardy, but he cannot go without a mistress because Farleigh is intensely jealous of the relationship between his wife, who used to be a prostitute, and Anthony. Victoria agrees to help Anthony in exchange for money she wants to use for a good Christmas for her orphans, but she hopes that she can keep her feelings for Anthony under control. This is more difficult than she imagined as the two spend time together and when she learns he believes he had coerced her ten years ago, she sets him straight and admits that she had wanted it as well. As her feelings grow she becomes desperate to end their charade before she completely falls in love with him and so she decides to try to help him by getting closer to Hardy. Anthony is furious that she puts her life in danger, but admires her willingness to help him and he realizes that his feelings for her have changed. But there are still spies out there for the two of them to confront before they can safely admit their love.
Kelley has definitely been an up and down author for me as I have really enjoyed a few of her books, but she has also produced a dud in my opinion. So I really had hopes that this would turn out to be one of the amazing ones, but was unfortunately disappointed. I liked that Victoria had completely remade herself with the help of a madame and that her life was dedicated to charity- especially since she enjoyed her work with the orphan and did not do it out of some need to help the little people. I was a little confused as to how she would have friends in the upper echelons of society and I was a little irritated by how frequently Kelley's previous characters made appearances in this novel. Anthony was interesting because he had some really great family issues such as an illegitimate half-sister, a mother who rose from the dead, and an overbearing father. I would have liked to have heard more about these relationships and really more about what mad Anthony tick on the whole and how he became involved with secrative government plots and spying.
Victoria and Anthony's relationship was pretty much based on anger, frustration, and downright mean-ness, especially for the first half of the book. While this is pretty common practice, it bordered into icky territory when it came to some rather violent kisses, especially considering their sexual encounter ten years earlier. While it wasn't rape, the very fact that he thought it was, made it just as bad in my opinion because he continued doing it even when he thought she didn't want it. Overall I wasn't really a fan of their interactions, even when they got closer, I still felt as though it wasn't enough. Normally I like her writing style but it seemed rather sloppy here at times, like she was just trying to chug out another book. The spy plot was boring for most of it and it just seemed to be a half hearted method of bringing Anthony and Victoria together and I did not really get into it until the very end when there was a great little surprise that I had never guessed.
Rating: Definitely not Kelley's best work with sloppy writing and rather boring plot and angry protagonists.