Scandal of the Season

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Scandal of the Season

Book Four of the Spinster Club Series

Penance is not enough, or at least that’s what Anthony Westfield, Viscount Somerton thinks. Ten years ago when “Tony” was 18 and a young man, he uncovered his father’s lies about his mother. Unable to cope with his anger and hurt, Tony believes that he wronged the sweet orange seller, a young woman who had touched his heart, by stealing her innocence forcefully while he was in a drunken haze. Unable to locate her, he’s been living with his guilt and searching for her since, determined to make amends. Now, he finally has the chance to locate the young woman with the help of Sophie Reynard, a local psychic and his unacknowledged half-sister, as long as he can keep his undercover job of spying for the government from interfering with his personal plans.

Orphaned as a child, Anne Smith was forced to work as a pickpocket and sweet orange seller. Long accustomed to the lustful staring of men, Anne is drawn to Tony, a young gentleman who treats her with respect and kindness. Anne knows nothing can come of her attraction to Tony because of their different social classes, but when she comes upon him hiding in the shadow of a building and in much emotional pain, she comforts him by surrendering her innocence and then disappearing. Now, ten years later, Anne is known as “Victoria Seaton”, a deceased vicar’s daughter running an orphanage, and also as a friend of Sophie Reynard. She’s not aware of Sophie’s ties to Tony, or that giving into the temptation to pick Tony’s pocket at a dinner party would put her back in Tony’s life. When Tony realizes that the woman who picked his pocket is also the sweet orange seller- he can’t help but blackmail “Victoria” into helping him out with his newest assignment – he needs her to pose as his “mistress” for a holiday party being held in the country, and he’s willing to pay her 5,000 pounds in exchange for the ruby necklace she liberated from his pockets.

The scenes between Tony and Victoria are very well written. They have fantastic physical chemistry, and the dialogue is sharp. The more time they spend together, the more they are drawn to each other and the deeper their attraction grows. The only problem is trust, as Tony has problems trusting people, partly because of his past and partly due to his job. He’s also developed a somewhat negative attitude towards women, something that Victoria is eventually able to overcome. Tony and Victoria begin to share secrets and eventually they both give into their mutual desire.

Christie Kelley has penned an enthralling love story with multifaceted characters and several subplots layered within the main plot. There are more than a handful of secondary characters and they all play a part in this story, from Lady Whitely, Tony’s mother, to Lady Farleigh, a woman whose involvement in evil both Tony and Victoria underestimated. We also get to see many of the characters from the first three books in this series, as the women are all friends of Sophie Reynard and have become friends of Victoria’s, not knowing her true identity. Ms. Kelley also did an excellent job with the espionage subplot as I was unable to guess the identity of one of the villains until it was revealed during a rather intense scene near the end. This was surprising scene which led to many of the secrets being revealed by the characters who had been keeping them, and which resulted in a very satisfactory ending. The author has also laid the groundwork for Sophie’s story, which I’m hoping she does next. Overall this was a very enjoyable read and I look forward to reading more of Ms. Kelley’s work. 

Book Blurb for Scandal of the Season

For ten years, Anthony Westfield, Viscount Somerton, hasn’t been able to forget the woman with whom he spent one scandalous night. When their paths cross again, he’s shocked to discover Victoria Seaton is an accomplished pickpocket. But Somerton leads a double life of his own. Working on an undercover assignment, he makes Victoria a proposition: pretend to be his mistress or risk ruin. Yet soon he’s tempted to turn their charade into reality—and surrender to an explosive passion…

Victoria can’t believe the man who almost destroyed her life a decade ago is now threatening to unravel her secrets. But posing as his mistress at a holiday country party is a game she can play well. For just one look into Somerton’s eyes still weakens her with lust. And with Christmas fast approaching, every kiss they share under the mistletoe only makes Victoria fall more deeply in love…

Night Owl Reviews Jan, 2011 4.75