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Ladies and Scoundrels: Volume 2*
Enjoyed One of the Stories…
This book contains two early Victorian novellas by one author, Scandalous Wallflower and Scandalous Liaison. Both books are quite short and can be read in less than an hour each.
The first novella, Scandalous Wallflower, does show Jane, the wallflower, in a rather scandalous position–quite literally. She is asleep in her chamber during a house party when a man comes in and undresses! Rather than kick him out, maiden Jane allows him to stay and enjoys a few kisses and caresses before he falls asleep. When morning comes, though, all heck breaks loose when her brother, his wife, and a notorious gossip find them in her room with her nighttime interloper half-dressed. How will this work out for Jane and Caleb, the Marquess in her room? this story had some delightfully steamy moments as well as some humorous ones. They’re both broken people in different ways, and after a little bit of strife, they figure out how to mend each other. The good but simple plot was appropriate for the length of the novella.
Despite the title of Scandalous Liaison, considering the heroine is a widow and the liaison’s duration, there is not too much scandal. Grace and Lewis had courted when she was a debutante, but her family required that she marry a duke to help save the family’s fortunes. Now some twenty years later, they meet again for the baptism of his great-niece. Romantic sparks fly. While I appreciated that this novel had an older heroine–and that is not common in Victorian romance–this story is one that I believe requires more than a novella to tell properly. The pacing felt off for the entire novella and especially so with the abrupt end. The reason for the conflict didn’t feel like enough to keep them apart if it is true that they have regretted so much for so long. I so enjoyed the first one of this set that I hoped it would be the same for this one, but I didn’t like it nearly as much. To me, the characters lacked chemistry and didn’t really have a chance to develop as characters.
There were a few issues with wrong word choice (lathe/lave, bear/bare, good/said, worship/warship[!], and emblazoned used incorrectly) as well as an occasional wrong letter thrown in. I found myself wondering if the books had been professionally edited.
The stories aren’t evenly matched, as I felt that the first one was much stronger in terms of empathetic characters, solid backstory, conflict, and finally, an appropriate type of plot for the length of the stories.