Friday, October 21, 2011
The Seduction of Scandal
Lady Corinne's father, the Duke of Banfield, has ordered her to marry Freddie Sherwin, heir to the Earl of Bossley, despite Corinne's numerous objections because he believes that the Earl will one day be prime minister and wishes to maintain strong connections to power. Corinne is determined to avoid marriage to the odious man so she runs away by hiding in the Earl's undercarriage. She is very surprised when the carriage is held up by the highwayman who has been haunting Bossley's land, The Thorn. The Reverend Will Norwich is Bossley's foster son, rescued from a life on the streets of Barbardos, so he owes Bossley his allegiance, but he could not stand by while the Earl robbed his tenants and threatened their livelihood. He disguises himself as the Thorn to steel back the money that Bossley has stolen and gives it back to those it belongs to. But on that fateful night his trip out leaves him in possession of a box full of French coins, proof that Bossley is a traitor, and Lady Corinne, who was accidentally shot by Bossley's men during the nighttime scuffle.
Corinne thinks this new development is perfect and he wants to hide out with Will in the rectory until the wedding date is past so that she can avoid marriage. Will is not so keen on the idea because he worries that Corinne showing up as his cousin will spur questions he is not willing and unable to answer and because of the attraction he has had for Corinne since he first saw her at a dance years ago. Corinne admires Will's passion for life, his dedication to serving the people in Ferris, and his determination to right the vast wrongs he sees in the world. Will is surprised that Corinne is not the spoiled aristocrat he had assumed; she mixes well with the common people and so obviously cares about those around her and she admires his work on behalf of the people. But her parents and the Earl are still expecting her to marry Freddy and their is the question of why the Earl of Bossley decided to adopt a random orphan. The most important thing for both of them is to never lose faith in the other and to trust that their love, and the help of their friends, will see them through and end with their happily ever after.
Corinne was certainly self assured and determined to take her life into her own hands, which I appreciated, but I appreciated even more that she went about it in a manner that seemed on track with a woman of her era. She had no choice but to escape and, while recognizing her options were limited, she took what she saw as the only way out of a bad situation. I liked how she felt that something was missing from her life because that is a feeling I could relate to and how she found meaning through helping others and being a part of something larger than herself. Will was a perfect foil for this because he had a greater purpose in life and it was wonderful reading about how she supported and worked with him doing something that was so important to him and how it became important for her. I liked that he was torn over what he was doing because of his relationship with Bossley but that he did what he knew was the right thing. I especially liked that he wasn't a typical heroine because although he was handsome, he was rather awkward and gawky at times and not always confident.
I really enjoyed their relationship and how it progressed throughout the novel from mere acquaintances to annoyances to respecting the others decisions and choices to falling in love. It went rather slowly, but that was in comparison with the book which moved incredibly fast and they didn't really get to know each other until the last half of the book and I felt like I spent a lot of time waiting for them to get together. There was very little lust or sexual tension between them which matched with the very little sex that was fairly lackluster and uninspiring. There was the huge mystery plot involving Lord Bossley and his treatment of his workers but it also extended beyond that to encompass treason and the search for the truth about Will's heritage. It was incredibly well done, integrated throughout the story and was exceedingly important for the development of their relationship and did not take away from the romance at all. Secondary characters throughout the novel were well written and as usual Maxwell's writing is fast, fun, and easy to read.
Rating: Maxwell writes two fun to read characters with a great mystery surrounding them and while I liked that they had a solid relationship I wish it hadn't been so slow to develop and there had been more lust.