Secrets of a Scandalous Bride by Sophia Nash centers on Elizabeth Ashburton who has been fleeing the attentions of one of the premier heroes of England who wants to make her his wife. She has joined the ranks of the “widows” adopted by the Dowager Duchess of Helston, most of whom have found love and are now settled into permanent relationships. Elizabeth and Sarah were both tragically affected by the battle of Badajoz, the former losing her beloved father and the latter widowed from the love of her life and they both suspect misdeeds perpetrated by Leland Pymm who has become obsessed with Elizabeth. Rowland Manning, bastard son of the former Earl of Wallace, is trying to keep his head afloat, especially with his surplus of horses that he has gathered for the war, which abruptly ended with the capture of Napoleon. He has crossed paths with several of the “widows” during his struggles with his half-brother but maintains his facade of disdain and black-heartedness with ease until Elizabeth conscripts him into her flight from Pymm. Unwillingly succumbing to the desperation that he recognizes all too well, Rowland becomes inextricably entwined in the attractive “widow’s” affairs as he tries to handle his own precarious situation. Each of these two tormented souls must find solace in the other’s strengths in order to overcome the myriad of obstacles they face.
The storyline is interesting and intriguing enough to warrant reading the other books in the series but the writing is a bit pedantic at times as it wavers between a light entertaining read and a weightier philosophical tome. The idiosyncrasies of the lead characters are not quite sufficiently explained but this may be a result of this title taking place later in the series with previous novels explaining some of the histories of the major characters. Most of the loose strings are tied up in this volume, some a little less satisfying than others, but overall an entertaining read.