I wanted to love this novella. I liked it, but it didn’t perform for me the way books in this series usually do. Maybe it’s because we have left behind the familiar. After all, we have exhausted the well of MacKenzie men and have moved on to the McBrides. I honestly don’t even remember Steven, though I am sure we have met him through Ainsley at some point. He just didn’t leave much of an impression. But I don’t think that’s what held the story back — or at least not entirely.
Before I complain too much, let me reiterate that it was a fairly good read. Steven is a captain on a brief leave from the military, on a personal mission to deliver bad news to a war widow. On his way, while thoroughly in his cups, he literally falls into Rose’s lap. Rose is a dowager duchess of ill repute. Her much older husband died of, er, overexertion shortly after they wed and now the press hounds her day and night, impugning her character. When she meets a drunken Steven, she takes him in for the night, thinking he is a soldier who is down on his luck.
When he awakes, Steven find himself taken with Rose and decides to help her by pretending they are betrothed. The idea is to get the press off her back and to help her reclaim her inheritance being withheld by her petulant step-son. Steven and Rose have a solid sexual vibe that helped carry the story. And obviously, she awakened a need in him for a real relationship with a woman. He swoops in and saves the day and does it in a kilt.
But. There is not a whole lot of basis for their relationship other than mutual attraction and a need for the safety and security that love can bring. The relationship progresses far too quickly for even a shade of emotional resonance, and I never really had a chance to care much for either characters. The cameos from the MacKenzies were gratuitous and added nothing to the story. And the hounding of the press felt more like a modern day paparazzi than something you would find in the 1880s.
It was ok. A quick afternoon read that helps bridge the gap until the next novel.
*ARC provided by InterMix
Click to purchase: Amazon
Scandal and the Duchess
by Jennifer Ashley
Release Date: September 16, 2014