A delightful romp to be read in one sitting - for fans of Sarah MacLean, Julia Quinn, and Tessa Dare.
Lady Viola Hextall is bored - of the sea, her chaperones, and the woeful lack of available dukes on the ocean voyage from London to New York. Scrambling for any diversion short of jumping overboard, Viola strikes up a conversation with the ship's rough-hewn, blue-eyed surgeon - and discovers an immediate cure for what ails her...
To Nathaniel Shaw, Viola has the bearing of a lady and the spirit of an adventurer - an unlikely combination that he finds utterly irresistible. So he's hoping to convince Viola to leave the stifling ballrooms of London high society behind because there is a big, wide world just waiting for them to explore - together.
Lady Viola Hextall has been packed off to sea, headed for New York, after being a very bad girl. Now she's trapped with two horribly (if perhaps justifiably) strict chaperones, and nothing to do except admire the ship's surgeon who is terribly handsome... though not a duke. Nathaniel Shaw might not be a duke, but he's determined to show Viola that she can be more in life than a duchess.
A Lady's Guide to Skirting Scandal is a gorgeous short romance, easy to read in a single sitting, but with plenty of spice to leave the reader entirely satisfied. The novella works really well as a kind of bottle episode, with Viola and Nathaniel stuck on a boat in the middle of the ocean together, with little to do other than patch up injured sailors, then tend to each others' needs... and, you know, for Viola to question her entire ambition in life.
Viola is a determined social climber. She intends to marry a duke, that's all there is to it, and she's unwilling to let anyone get in the way of that aim. However, she finds herself acting less than ladylike around Nathaniel, who has a way of making her feel comfortable about letting go of her airs and graces, and is even willing to show her how to do something so scandalous as to stitch a patient's wound. (And also other much more delicious things, of course...)
We get to know just enough about Nathaniel's past to understand that he disdains the nature of English class and society, and he intends to escape it all by heading off on a wild adventure to Missouri. He struggles to understand Viola's attachment to society, and shockingly believes that she is actually competent as more than a pretty face in the ball room. But what are the chances that this wanna-be-duchess would run off into the wilds of Missouri with him?
As you might imagine, his chances are quite good in the end, but only after that perfect amount of education, seduction, and quite a bit of sneaking around behind the backs of chaperones. Their romance is both sweet and very sexy, with Nathaniel showing Viola that education, knowledge and ability is nothing a woman should be ashamed of, and then educating her in both the surgery and in the bedroom. It's pretty easy to fall in both love and lust for this couple.
A Lady's Guide to Skirting Scandal is a novella (about 25,000 words) addition to Kelly Bowen's Lords of Worth Series. I haven't read the rest of this series, but I definitely will now. Nathaniel and Viola's romance is just delicious and Bowen's writing is fast paced and entirely scrumptious.
Side note to my review: The main reason I picked up this book was because I've been desperately longing for some historical romance this week, but haven't had the time or brain space to sit down to read a full length one. A Lady's Guide turned out to be the perfect antidote, but it also made me wonder why contemporary romance comes in a much easier range of length options than historicals. For example, it's not difficult to find quality contemporaries of any length from novellas to short novels to long novels, but historical romance seems to have a much stricter 300+ page requirement. If you have any recommendations for good shorter historical romances (40,000-60,000 words is my sweet spot at the moment!) then please let me know!!! Thanking you muchly in advance. xx
A Lady's Guide to Skirting Scandal by Kelly Bowen is a historical romance, released by Forever Yours on August 4, 2015.
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