Pocket, Mar 2001, 7.99, 410 pp.
In Ceylon, someone kills the Earl of Wickham during a hunting expedition. Jem Downess crosses the ocean and two land masses to inform his employer Lady Gabriella Banning that her half-brother is dead. Gabriella worries about what will happen to her two younger half-sisters, eighteen years old drop dead gorgeous Claire and fifteen-year-old Beth now that her odious cousin is the new Earl of Wickham. Her cousin is almost as malicious as her deceased father who abused the siblings when he lived.
However, before he died, Marcus gave Jem a letter that told Gabby to take Claire to London and allowed her carte blanche to his funds. Gabby knows the letters are worthless unless she and Jem keep quiet about Marcus' death. Feeling a bit guilty, Gabby decides Claire needs her season and will find a good husband in town. When the three women reach London, they find Marcus living in the family home. Since no one has seen Marcus in two decades except Jem, Gabby asks him to identify the man. Jem insists the real Marcus is dead. Marcus and Gabby reach an understanding, but neither one expected to fall in love.
SCANDALOUS is an entertaining Regency romance with the twist of two individuals, deceiving society for different reasons, ironically falling in love in the process. The story line is fast-paced, but it is the characters who make it so much fun to read. The lead couple is charming as they react differently to their growing attraction and to their joint culpability. The mystery behind the Marcus masquerade adds a sense of danger to a cleverly designed tale that will please historical romance fans.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner