Friday, November 15, 2013

The Scandal Before Christmas by Elizabeth Essex

The Basics:
The Scandal Before Christmas by Elizabeth Essex
St. Martin's Press
Book One of the Reckless Brides
Published October 8, 2013


’Tis the season for a new holiday novella from acclaimed author Elizabeth Essex! The Scandal Before Christmas is romance so good it’s scandalous…

Lieutenant Ian Worth needs a wife by Christmas, and he can’t afford to be choosy. He has to find her, woo her, and wed her before he goes back to sea—all within a matter of days.  

Anne Lesley is a shy spinster with no prospects, and nothing and no one to recommend her but her own self. She accepts the lieutenant’s hasty offer only for the comfort and security it will bring. But when a midwinter storm snows her and Ian in, they both find they got much more than they bargained for—laughter, light, and a Christmas filled with honest to goodness true love…

There's supposed to be four books in this series, the next one coming in April 2014 - After the Scandal.

What worked for me:

The standout character in this work was the heroine - Anne. She was quiet to avoid both disappointing people and to maintain the peace. Her self-doubt was raised in really logical ways, and more intriguingly, all that suppressed passion, curiosity and lust for *life* (let alone Ian). 

There's a really sweet love story here - I like that both Ian and Anne have really good personal reasons motivating a quick marriage. I liked that it wasn't love at first sight, and that they both had to work at it a bit. 

What didn't work for me:

The most irritating thing in this book was the repetition of Ian as being shallow and ramshackle. He thinks of himself, or explains himself to Anne in these terms several times and it was very unnecessary. His behaviour in the book shifted from this to something much more palatable, and we didn't need him to constantly remind us that he didn't think he was worthy of Anne. 

There also seemed to be a convenient lack of servants. For a cottage with six bedrooms and a greenhouse, it seemed strange for there to be just Ian and Pinky living there. It seemed contrived to allow for more concerns about alone time between various combinations of the characters present.

I also wondered at the sudden disappearance of Anne's mother within the novella. One moment, everyone's concerned she's going to say something wrong to Ian's father. Anne stands up to her for the first time, and then blam, dear mom disappears. I'd have liked to have her continue to natter away in the background of the story.

Bottom Line:

This is a quick, sweet tale of love at Christmastime. There's a young woman coming out of her self-imposed shell, there's a young man finally growing up and standing up to his father. 

Definitely worth a read, and I'll likely keep an eye out in April for the next one.

4 stars
For anyone who loves romance, HEAs, well-defined characters, light and sweet stories

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