First Comes Scandal by Julia Quinn – Book Review

Title: First Comes Scandal (Rokesbys #4)
Author: Julia Quinn
Genre: Historical Romance
Publication Date: April 2020

She was given two choices….

Georgiana Bridgerton isn’t against the idea of marriage. She’d just thought she’d have some say in the matter. But with her reputation hanging by a thread after she’s abducted for her dowry, Georgie is given two options: live out her life as a spinster or marry the rogue who has ruined her life.

Enter option number three…

As the fourth son of an earl, Nicholas Rokesby is prepared to chart his own course. He has a life in Edinburgh, where he’s close to completing his medical studies, and he has no time – or interest – to find a wife. But when he discovers that Georgie Bridgerton – his literal girl next door – is facing ruin, he knows what he must do.

A marriage of convenience… (Goodreads).

Oh boy, this was a disappointing read.

Well, I should probably wait before writing this review as I’ve literally just finished reading the book but I have some pent up emotions that I need to get off my chest. The first being, where was the rest of the book???!!!! At a mere 288 pages this book was 100 pages shy of every other story in the series. Quite frankly (as this was not labelled a novella) it needed those extra pages.

The Rokesbys series (one that I truly adore from Quinn) has been a splendid mix of daring drama and adventure thus far, the likes of which you rarely see in historical romance. The previous book in the series, The Other Miss Bridgerton, is one of my all-time favourite historical reads. It involves pirates, an adventurous woman, a nomadic and witty man and a fast-paced plot of kidnapping followed by heroism.

When I compare that to this book… it’s like I’m reading an entirely different series and I didn’t get anything of what I had been after. I was expecting a reluctant marriage of convenience, built up tension, some medical emergencies (considering the ‘hero’ was a training physician) and a sweet HEA. What we got instead was a fast-tracked story with little to any conflict. It was purely boy meets girl, (almost) insta-love, then HEA.

This was such a shame as the story had so much potential. I really enjoyed reading the multiple POVs of Georgiana (a strong woman with an innate sense of curiosity and a wicked intelligence) and Nicholas (a man who values women’s intelligence and allowed Georgiana an almost unlimited amount of freedom). They were interesting separately and worked well together.

What I did not enjoy was the complete lack of a middle to the story. The beginning was so fun to read! I was hooked very quickly with Nicholas’ displeasure at having to marry for convenience (because he wanted to marry for love) and Georgiana’s great sense of humour in their interactions. After this, things very quickly progressed with zero conflict (between them or with others). Caught unawares I soon found myself at the ‘epilogue’. I mean… can you call it an epilogue if the story was severely lacking substance?

In this epilogue (without wanting to share too many spoilers) it became apparent that Georgiana’s fight for a woman’s right to an advanced education was never granted. That was it. WHY hadn’t Quinn explored this fight, Nicholas’ support of Georgiana’s plight and the resulting heart-break in the middle of the book? I’d have been happy with insta-love and outside conflict in the form of a fight for education. Instead we got none of this.

I’m sorry, this is turning in to a ramble. My disappointment is high and I just can’t stop. I’ve rated this two stars because there was some genuinely great potential here and Quinn’s characters were likeable (if not fully developed throughout the story).

A sad 2 Stars from me.

The Earl’s Christmas Pearl by Megan Frampton – ARC Review

Pre-Order it on AMAZON. ARC provided by Avon Impulse publishing via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.

☆ ☆ ☆ 1/2

I wasn’t sure what to expect from this book but I was pleasantly surprised! It was quirky, had an adorable meet-cute and the perfect amount of scandal for a historical romance novella. I requested this ARC mainly because of the historical setting and Christmas element… It’s my favourite holiday of the year and I CANNOT WAIT to get my hands on more romances like this. They add a certain extra cheer to the build up of my fav festive season! Yes… I’m the person who starts decorating in October!

The Earl’s Christmas Pearl was an endearingly sweet story of an awkward, grumpy man and a free-spirited young woman in search of independence from the constraints placed upon her life. The scandal was positively salacious and kept my full attention! This was quite a steamy read but nothing that overtook the whole novel. It was a slow-burn with witty banter and the inclusion of some hilarious puns. I’ll definitely give this a re-read sometime!

Blurb:

A duke’s daughter. An irrestible earl. And an energetic Corgi named Mr. Shorty. What more could you want in a Christmas novella by Megan Frampton?

It’s Christmastime in London, and Lady Pearl Howlett is eagerly ready for the festivities—until her family goes off to their country estate…accidentally leaving her home alone! But she’s not dismayed. Rather, she’s thrilled to do exactly what she wants. Unfortunately, this daughter of a duke doesn’t know how to do anything.

The Earl of Llanover has come to London to take refuge in his godmother’s townhouse, free to be as awkward and grumpy as he wants. With his pet Corgi, Mr. Shorty, for company, Owen Dwyfor is ready for a quiet holiday away from his mother and sisters who would have him married off. That is, until his godmother’s neighbor, Lady Pearl Howlett comes barging in to his solitude.

After some reluctance, the two come together for a joyous—and steamy—Christmas they won’t forget.

Characters:

Lady Pearl Howlett – Pearl’s enthusiasm for life and trying to accomplish tasks on her own was endearing. I couldn’t help but support her attempt to live on her own without maids or assistance. She’d been sheltered her whole life and the stifling nature of it tore at my heart. This story made me appreciate how much freedom I have in my life, especially when Pearl’s greatest excitement was being able to learn how to cook her own eggs. At the age of twenty! I’m not a good cook ( AT ALL ) but I’ve finally found someone who shares my same enthusiasm and lack of skill. I’m so glad she ended up with a man that was respective of her wish to be self-sufficient and willing to help her achieve it.

Earl of Llanover – Owen was a breath of fresh air from the usual scandalous rakes that fill these books. He was awkward, shy and grump as all get-out. His injury was not seen as a weakness nor was it ignored in this story. Owen’s character was embraced for all of his imperfections and he was no less masculine or capable for it. I loved how Frampton was not shy to include a stubbornly grumpy hero that wasn’t above letting Pearl gain independence and control. He completely stole my heart and made this book go from average to so so charmingly sweet!

Overall this was a VERY CUTE and FUN read. What held my rating back was the fact that the setting was not as well done as it could have been, nor did the story include some elements at the end that I had been waiting the whole book for. The characters, their budding love and witty banter were all there though! If this had been a full length novel with some added depth including better writing of the setting as well as additional characters it would be a 5-star. As these elements can’t always be realistically added in to a novella of this length it was understandable and still enjoyable!

//have you a fan of historical romance or Christmas romances? which are your favs? //

Jen

Hunting for a Highlander by Lyndsay Sands – ARC Book Review

Pre-Order it on AMAZON

☆ ☆ 1/2 STARS

Let me just start this by saying I should have known how steamy this book was from its cover! I usually ignore this as books with some steamy times generally have half-naked men on the cover and they’re only moderately steamy. This book was definitely an exception to the rule. Not always in a bad way but occasionally it was like WOW. That’s some stamina right there, haha! So besides from that…

Book Blurb:

Four Buchanan brothers have found their brides…only three more to go in this scintillating romance from New York Times bestselling author Lynsay Sands…

Lady Dwyn Innes feels utterly out of place among the eligible women who’ve descended on Buchanan Keep, vying for the attention of the last unmarried brothers. She isn’t long-legged and slender like her sisters, or flirtatious and wily like other lasses. Since her betrothed died, Dwyn has resigned herself to becoming an old maid. Yet a chance encounter with a stranger in the orchard awakens her to a new world of sensation and possibility…

After weeks away, Geordie Buchanan returns to find his home swarming with potential brides, thanks to his loving but interfering family. But one lass in particular draws his attention from the moment he spies her climbing a tree. Lady Dwyn is not nearly as plain as she thinks. Her lush figure and eager kisses delight him, as does her honesty. But the real test lies ahead: eliminating a hidden enemy, so that he and Dwyn can seal their Highland passion with a vow.

Characters:

Dwyn – I actually quite liked Dwyn. She was smart, brave and genuine. I really liked the way she didn’t let the competition to win a suitor make her turn vain. I felt like she held her role as broodmare and bargaining chip for her father’s land quite well… all things considering. She was just making the best of a shitty situation and happened to get lucky that Geordie was a decent guy, if only a bit virile…

Geordie – Honestly the man was a beast. In a good way? Depending on how much stamina you have. I felt like he played one role in this though – overprotective and amorous. He did show some progressive thought when he insisted on ‘asking’ for Dwyn’s hand in marriage rather than just taking her father’s permission as a done deal. This was mostly accurate to the events of time period though so I couldn’t hate him completely for this. Plots like this will still never sit quite right with me though!

Side Characters – The other Buchanan brothers were HILARIOUS. I loved them and honestly the family dynamic kept me interested when I got bored of all the smexy times and ended up skim reading a few pages. Yes… they’re explicitly descriptive. If this is your cup of tea then you’d probably like this book. For me it was all just a bit too much.

This book had great pacing and was a relatively easy read. There were only a few instances were the ‘ye’ and ‘ere’ phonetic-type writing got me caught up. I generally enjoy the Highland Historical Romance genre so most of these are familiar to me. It added a charming element to the story but not everyone is a fan of that, so it’s something to bear in mind I suppose. Similarly, this story also had multiple POV from Dwyn and Geordie’s perspectives. It wasn’t always outlined or made clear but considering this was an un-proofed draft that might change with publishing.

My only other concern with this book were the endless amounts of dramatic, semi-violent events that plagued Dwyn and Geordie’s HEA. They were quickly resolved though and with the inclusion of ANOTHER passionate moment, the HEA got back on track. It felt like this cycle repeated itself three or so times during the book. This was a bit like whiplash as I read it all in one sitting but would be better suited for those who read books in multiple sessions. Then perhaps each sitting would have an interesting mini adventurous story arc to get through.

// do you enjoy reading highland romances? what are your thoughts on them? //

Jen