Gabriella Banning has been faced with the most unappealing dilemma. She just received word that her half-brother Marcus, the Earl of Wickham has been killed. The Earldom will pass to their cousin Thomas who will surely push Gabby and her two sisters out onto the streets and of course, Gabby’s sister Claire will not have her debut season. Taking a huge risk, Gabby rushes her sisters off to London pretending her half-brother is still alive and well. She figures all she has to do is achieve an advantageous marriage for her sister and when the truth about the Earl is finally revealed, it will no longer matter if her sister is spoken for.
What she doesn’t expect is for her half-brother to welcome her when they arrive in London. Even though she only saw her half-brother once many years ago, Gabby is suspicious immediately and knows this man pretending to be her half-brother certainly cannot be him! But this impostor has his own agenda. He plans to play the role of the Earl while he determines which person really killed his friend Marcus and why. Gabby and “Marcus” confront each other about their individual schemes and agree to remain silent about their treachery. Now that they know the truth about one another, they can’t seem to keep their hands off each other. Worried about the uproar they would cause if the truth is revealed, the real scandal is how close these two ‘siblings’ have become…
Okay…I try to be fairly mature and dignified about my reviews, but I have to get it out… “SQUEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!” Ok, my squee of delight is over…but I had to do it. Simply because I LOVED this novel! What a true and utter delight Scandalous is! It is the perfect historical romance with a tender and touching story about two individuals that are so perfect for one another yet can’t seem to realize it.
Gabby was splendid! She was innocent and scared at the beginning of this novel, but her love for her sister forces her to face issues and make decisions that display true courage. The deceit this charade requires is a difficult pill to swallow for a naive young lady like Gabby, but when worst comes to worst, she sticks out her chin and overcomes the worst dilemmas. It was adorable and amusing to read. Still, her insecurities were always prominent in her mind and the inner struggles she faced believing she was unlovable were delicate moments that any woman can relate to. She was a martyr for her sisters, but not in a flamboyant or outrageous way. Her actions were often unnoticed and no matter what the consequences, she always kept the smile on her face. She was everything a heroine ought to be.
And of course there is “Marcus.” He came onto the pages as a cad, a ruthless libertine, but Gabby is an easy distraction. There were parts is this novel that made me constantly change my opinion about him. Some parts were charming, other parts revealed slight rakish behavior, but I feel that is what made the ending all that more amazing. He is certainly conflicted by the feelings he has for Gabby, but also wants to find Marcus’ killer. His journey is not an easy one. While the book was nearly perfect on all accounts, I would have loved to hear the story from his perspective just a little bit more. Maybe Robards didn’t do that because his identity was kept a secret for most of the book, but there were plenty of times I wished to know what he was thinking!
I have read a few novel by Robards, but never one that I have enjoyed as much as this. The description in the first few chapters was overwhelming and it really worried me, but the novel easily picked up after the first forty pages or so. There was hardly a time that I wanted to put the novel down, it was just that fascinating! What appealed to me the most were the characters. While Robards can hook you into whatever world she creates, it was her characters in this case that wouldn’t let go. You will care about them, appreciate their struggles and remember then long after the book has concluded. I don’t believe I’ve ever wanted a couple to have a happily ever after more than I did with these two characters. It was beautifully written, it was compelling, it was nearly perfect. A definite keeper for this reader!