Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Scandal of the Year

Scandal of the Year by Laura Lee Guhrke 215

Aidan Carr is the incredibly proper Duke of Tretham, which is why the entire ton is shocked when he is found in the bed of the very married Lady Julia Yardley. Her husband discovers them and demands a divorce and while Julia becomes the scandal of the ton, Aidan is left by yet another fiance. Julia's marriage to Lord Yardley had been horrific and she had tried desperately for years to get him to file for divorce. Seducing Aidan and being discovered by him was her last resort and though she feels bad for fooling him, she would not change a thing. The two had met when they were younger, right before she was supposed to marry Yardley, and throughout the years they have run into each other at various events. After the divorce is finalized they keep their distance, but they have numerous friends in common so complete avoidance is an impossibility. Their reunion leaves both of them frustrated as Aidan knows Julia is completely wrong and far too scandalous and yet he cannot help but want her, while Julia is confused by the desire she is feeling for the first time in years.

Aidan is trying to look for a wife as he has a duty to provide an heir, yet he cannot get images of Julia out of his head. His memories of their afternoon are shady but the small snatches he does remember are enough to make him hot under the collar. Julia has problems of her own as she is massively in debt as her husband cut her off even before their divorce. She takes it upon herself to help Aidan find a wife and Aidan is stunned at how spot on her observations about his personal tastes are. He realizes that he wants none of the women out there as much as he wants her and sets about trying to prove to her that she wants him just as much. Unfortunately he has quite a bit to contend with as she is haunted by her past with her abusive ex-husband and though Aidan does not know the extent of what she endured, he fears it is too much for them to ever overcome. Julia trusts Aidan and he knows that he will never treat her like Yardley, yet she is still fearful and she must look deep inside herself before she is finally able to let go and take a leap with Aidan.

I got a little peek into Aidan and Julia's relationship in Wedding of the Season and I was very intrigued to discover how Guhrke brought these two together when it was so clear they were each determined not to like the other. This book left a significant gap in time as we jump in after Aidan and Julia are discovered by her husband and after the subsequent divorce. At first this disappointed me, but it would not have added anything to the story and so I let it go. I am not a fan of romances where the characters are attracted to each other through barbing each other and inciting heated arguments that lead to banter. This book walked a very fine line between doing that and successfully writing two characters who were just scared of showing how much they liked each other. Julia's divorce played such a large part in shaping who she was and I wish we had learned earlier what exactly had happened to make her the way she was. The best part of her fear was the way that Aidan was so perfectly suited to help her overcome her fear and support her as much as she needed.

I do like the staid and proper gentleman who is taken in by the scandalous woman and Aidan was so wonderfully proper and it was so obvious that he had a bit of deviltry in him. Julia was the perfect woman to bring it out at first, but then I got rather confused as she started backing away and trying to set him up with other women. It seemed like she became a little schizophrenic in this book, but I will admit it fit with her character who tried to put on such a brave face even while being scared inside. The two of them worked well together overall and the focus of the story was definitely on the development of their relationship, which I always appreciate in a romance novel. There was very little sex in the book and it was just a couple of scenes at the very end and was rather plain and boring overall. This is not really unusual for a Guhrke novel so I was not expecting something hot and steamy. There were some references to previous characters, but nothing too major and I was not overwhelmed with them or anything.

Rating: An even showing by Guhrke, but while there was nothing wrong with it, there was also nothing spectacular either- just a satisfying romance novel.

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