Monday, July 1, 2013

Review: Miss Watson's First Scandal

Reviewed by Janell
This is a historical novella, set in a Regency-esque time period, but in the resort town of Brighton so there aren’t any balls or country house parties, just some swimming and friendly dinners. This book is the first in a series, and as such it introduces a core group of characters who live in Brighton and will have adventures in further books.

David Hawke is a rich bachelor banker. He visits Brighton once a year and hangs out with his friends and the menfolk all swim naked in the surf every morning. His friend Peter Watson lives next door, along with Peter’s sister Abigail. On the other side of them lives Abigail’s best friend Imogen, and Imogen’s brother. I guess no one has elderly parents in Brighton.

Anyhow, David has come to foreclose on Peter’s house because Peter is an unemployed gambler. Abigail knows they’re in financial trouble because she’s sneaky like that, and she tries to find a way to delay the foreclosure. When David agrees to consider it, she kisses him in gratitude. It’s her first kiss, she’s curious, she kisses him again.

That’s the setup. David is eight years older than Abigail. He hasn’t been waiting for her to mature so he can seduce her. He’s just been banking in London, too busy to feed himself or sleep or get married. Banking is serious business, you see. Abigail has not been crushing on David, either. He’s just been sort of there. Their kiss is out of the blue and gets them thinking about each other in different ways. I would like to say that sparks fly and eyes are opened and all that, but I didn’t feel it. I felt more like it was in the background of all their other problems, an afterthought.

I was underwhelmed by this book. Abigail’s forward actions didn’t ring true for her upbringing, and she seemed too sheltered to understand what she was getting into after this exchange: “Then you don’t really mind me being here.” “No. In fact, I think it would be best for you to stay.” When she nods, he scoops her up and carries her to bed. That’s the seduction, and it didn’t make me swoon.

A subplot involving Imogen’s secret identity was random and too convenient, probably laying groundwork for a future novel. I didn’t like how it was handled, though, probably because I didn’t have any sense of Imogen’s character. She mostly sat in her bedroom and talked to Abigail, which made me seriously wonder at first if she were handicapped and incapable of leaving her house.

You know how most Regency (if not all) romances end happily, and then there’s an epilogue showing off a delightful marriage and children? This epilogue was… wrong. It’s like how, when your favorite tv show is going to have a spinoff series, they spend an episode with new characters and settings and try to get you interested. If the new stuff is good, then you might get excited. But if not, you’re just mad that you don’t get to see your regular characters doing regular things. In the case of this book, I wasn’t even that invested in the original characters, but I would have liked them to have some screen time together. Resolving a final romantic problem in an epilogue without one of the romantic partners present is, well, lame.

Rating: C

*ARC Provided by LLD Press via NetGalley
Miss Watson's First Scandal
by Heather Boyd
Release Date: July 2, 2013
Publisher: LLD Press

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