Once Upon A Scandal
by Julie LeMense
Caught up in a scandal of her father’s making, Lady Jane Fitzsimmons is now an outcast in the society that once prized her refinement. So when Lord Benjamin Marworth offers to help redeem her good name, she leaps at the chance.
Too bad his plan requires her very public demise.
Marworth, society’s darling, is actually a spy for the crown, and important war communiques have been stolen. If Jane can carry off her disguise as the mysterious Madame Lillianne Fauchon, with close ties to Napoleon, she just might tempt the thief out of hiding.
If only Marworth didn’t find her so tempting himself…
“This is rather awkward.”
“Not at all,” he said, praying humor would mask his turmoil. “I’m approached for this sort of thing all the time. My reputed expertise, you see.”
“I don’t doubt it.” And there was something in her voice. If he didn’t know better, he might have called it jealousy.
“I am joking, you know.” Her eyes grew wider with each step he took toward her. Did she realize how expressive they were? She was undoubtedly nervous, but curious too. When they were mere inches apart, close enough that her face was almost nestled against his chest, he stopped. “You will need to do one thing for this to work.”
“What’s that?” she asked, speaking into the folds of his jacket.
“You will need to look up.”
She did, and something hot uncoiled inside him. Because her face was flushed, and her breathing had quickened, and those magnificent breasts were pressed against him.
“There are several types of kisses, Jane,” he said, his voice raspy now. “A light peck on the cheek. A quick meeting of lips. Both are expressions of affection or friendship. For the sake of our task, I will show you one quite a bit different…”
A few things before I start. There is a book before this that explains Jane’s downfall and the introduction of Benjamin, our hero. In some ways, I wish that I had read it first. Not that I didn’t enjoy this book because I did but I felt kinda left out with some of the secondary characters. Like I wish I had met Aunt Sophia earlier. Love her! She’s still on the prowl. 😉
I’ve been on a historical kick lately and I’m so glad that I read this book. I’m not one for the whole Regency period. Personally, I like the Victorian period but I digress. What stood out for me was that Ms. LeMense stepped out of the box. To fake a death, a true mystery to solve with secrets, lots of intrigue and a hero that’s NOT what he seems. Ooooo…Again,
Lady Jane or Madame Lillianne is one strong heroine. She’s not your typically Regency heroine. She’s smart, seductive without knowing it (at least in the beginning) and not willing to the sacrificial lamb because of her father. Oh course, she went into the fake death knowing what she was giving up but she did MAKE that choice. It wasn’t made for her. Like so many other regency period novels, the heroine is usually treated like an idiot but not here. That’s one of the difference that Ms. LeMense makes in her storytelling.
Now, Benjamin is a different story. He starts off as the rake but truly does have a heart of gold. What he didn’t count on was falling for Jane in the end. Yes, true love does exist in this time period and Ms. LeMense takes her time with Jane and Benjamin. Their’s is a slow burn to romance and if you are expecting lots of smexy times…well… But was also intriguing about Benjamin was his service to the crown and how far he was willing to go.
Again, if I had something negative to say is that I felt a little bit left out by not reading Once Upon a Wager where Jane and Benjamin are introduced. That said, the plot is delicious, her characters are vivid and smart, but more importantly Ms. LeMense’s voice is beautiful. It did slow a bit in the middle but not enough for me to stop reading. I feel in love with Jane and Benjamin and just kept praying for their HEA.
Crimson Romance doesn’t disappoint when it comes to their books and authors. Ms. LeMense might have just pushed me a little further towards the Regency period when it comes to romance. Just maybe but you can bet that I will definitely read anything else that she publishes in the genre. And yes, for Harlie that’s saying a lot. 🙂
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
A Georgetown University graduate with a degree in English Literature, I’ve loved the Regency romance genre since my first deliciously bad Barbara Cartland novel. These days, I prefer the complex characterizations and plotting of Julie Anne Long, Sherry Thomas, Meredith Duran, Courtney Milan, and Sarah MacLean. A member of the Romance Writers Association of America, I am currently working on my next novel, as the ghosts who live in my haunted, gilded-age home try to sneak their way into my stories.
Link to amazon author page:
GIVEAWAY INFORMATION and RAFFLECOPTER CODE
Julie LeMense will be awarding a $10 Amazon/BN GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.
a Rafflecopter giveaway