by Ashlyn Macnamara
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After watching her beloved sister Sophia pine over the ton’s Golden Boy for years, Miss Julia St. Claire has foresworn love and put herself firmly on the shelf. Unfortunately, her social-climbing mother and debt-ridden father have other ideas, and jump at the chance to marry Julia off to the newly-named Earl of Clivesden…the man of Sophia’s dreams. Since resigning his Cavalry commission, Benedict Revelstoke has spent his time in London avoiding the marriage mart. But when he discovers that the Earl of Clivesden has set Julia in his sights, Benedict tries to protect his childhood best friend from the man’s advances—only to discover more than friendship driving his desire to defend her. He surprises them both with the force of his feelings, but when she refuses him and her father announces her betrothal, he fears he’s lost her forever—until Julia approaches him with a shocking scheme that will ruin her for all respectable society…and lead them into an exquisite world of forbidden pleasures.
Ashlyn Macnamara’s debut regency romance novel A Most Scandalous Proposal introduces us to two sisters of the ton who have turned down suitors, one is holding out for the man she has secretly loved and the other is determined to avoid marriage and its complications. I quickly consumed this humorous, suspenseful and sweet romance.
The St. Claire sisters are in no rush to wed. Sophia has had a crush on the ton’s golden boy and is waiting for him to notice her. At a ball that is turning out to be the crush of the season, he arrives and begins cutting a path towards them. Sophia is overjoyed until he seems to give all of his attention toward Julia her sister. Julia is shocked as he confesses he is now the newly named Earl of Clivesden. Their mother’s eyes all but glow with wedding bells. He asks her to dance, and she looks for a way to cry off. Thankfully, her best friend Benedict Revelstoke swoops in to save the day as he apologizing to the new earl stating that Julia has already promised this dance. Sophia finds herself paired with Clivesden but he only seems to care about Julia. When the dance ends, she is distressed and moves to get out of the crowd. When she faints her mother sees a way to have both of her daughters married by the end of the season. Twists, plots, wagers, and trysts made this tale delightful.
Macnamara introduces us to some fascinating characters and some rather annoying ones. I liked both sisters and found their preconceived ideas about love and romance to be funny, sad, and complicated. Sophia is a tad spoiled and naive, while Julia is intelligent, snarky and protective. It was fun watching them bloom and discover love. I wish someone had hit Sophia over the head regarding her infatuation with Clivesden and their parents should have been poked with a cattle prod. The lengths their mother was willing to go to, to see them wed and her easy dismal of her girls’ concerns made me cringe. I also questioned why the sudden rush, but the author does a good job of explaining the fine pickle Mr. St. Clair has placed them all in. Revelstoke was sweet, and his attempts to protect Julia warmed my heart and angered me. Confess, confess I say! Highgate was delightful with his gentle ways and insightful advice to Sophia.
The tale is filled with drama, humor, heartbreak, and romance. While the tale was predictable and we see many tried and true story-lines weaved into this one, the author does a sound job of making her own mark on it. All in all, this was a solid debut novel and the perfect light read for a Sunday afternoon.
A Most Scandalous Proposal was a delightful debut novel embracing regency romance. I look forward to reading the author’s next endeavor.
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