Loving Linsey

Mustang Annie

A Scandalous Lady
by Rachelle Morgan
(Avon, $5.99, PG-13) ISBN 0-06-008470-7
Welcome to Victorian London… but we will not be visiting the milliner’s shop or attending a ball with the crème de la crème of the ton. In fact, in Rachelle Morgan’s newest book, A Scandalous Lady, our total view of the great city of London is seen from dark docks on the river Thames. But it is definitely not a loss, because this is where we meet and enter the world of our heroine. Faith Jervais, commonly known on the streets as Fanny, is a common pickpocket who believes she was abandoned by her family sixteen years ago and has been fighting for herself ever since.

Of course, what is romance without a leading man? Enter Troyce, the Baron of Westborough, who having become one of the unlucky victims of Faith/Fanny’s thieving skills (at a time when he can least afford it), takes her to his country estate to work as a household maid until she can pay off the debt she owes him. But underneath all the dirt and the grime of the London sewers and docks is a beautiful woman just waiting to emerge and capture Troyce’s heart. Unfortunately, Troyce’s heart is not free for him to give - in order to save the estate that his father had impoverished before his death, he realizes that his only choice is to follow the edicts of his family and marry even when Faith is the only one on his mind.

To her credit, author Rachelle Morgan opens up an often ignored or underdeveloped dimension in historical romances by trying to remain true to the life of a petty thief turned serving girl. We don’t often get to see what sort of lives the less-than-gentry lead and Morgan does an admirable job in her portrayal. The only bothersome lack of detail is when Troyce’s sister Devon plans a lavish summer ball to attract a suitable wife for the Baron - I never got the impression that it was a “big deal” to Faith, although a large gathering would have required more help and more time than the allowances made for it in the book. But as this is not a novel about the lady of the house and her subsequent responsibilities, or even the staff of the house - but just a story about one girl - it’s not hard to overlook this when the relationship between Troyce and Faith is just starting to get hot and heavy at the same time.

From the very start there was a noticeable attraction between the two, with all that you could want and expect: heated glances, embarrassingly awkward (but sensual moments), and a sexual tension that just won’t quit. Although Faith spends more than half the book telling Troyce that she will not sleep with him, she succumbs. Troyce, thinking that Faith might be just like his mother and only after a title, succumbs physically but it takes him a little longer than it took Faith to realize this is Love. Perhaps this was a little disappointing because I’ve read the same plot line a thousand times - but Morgan doesn’t falter! Once you think that they finally got it together, in the grand scheme of the best romances, fate is there to cause just a little bit of chaos.

So, I stayed with Faith and Troyce (swore at them both just a little… but that’s par for the course, because I of course know that there is nothing that will truly be able to keep them apart, if only they would just realize it!) through the thick and thin and until the bitter end.

I read the entire novel in a day - so, I enjoyed it, quite a bit - although there were some questions left unanswered: what about Troyce’s sister, Devon, a veritable curmudgeon because of past regrets and pains? And what of Devon’s ex-love (and Troyce’s best friend), who is now also on the market? Do I dare hope for a sequel to A Scandalous Lady?

--Nadia Cornier

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