Julia London introduces us to two lovely cousins-Keira Hannigan and Lily Boudine-in her latest book The Year of Living Scandalously. The story truly begins when these two mischievous young ladies decide to switch places. Lily's uncle passed away and with that death she was declared the sole surviving heir to the Ashwood estate, something that she was not prepared for. Determined to follow through on her commitment to be Mrs. Canavan's companion in Italy, she proposes that Keira travels to Hadley Green in her stead. Keira, wanting an adventure of her own (although she was offered Italy too, what the heck?!) agrees to do it. What Keira didn't plan on was the people of Hadley Green assuming SHE was Lily. When Keira discovers that the estate is in over its head in debt, she goes along with the mistaken identity in an attempt to make things right for when her cousin returns.
All is going well, until Keira's childhood crush, Declan O'Connor, Lord Donnelly of Ballynaheath (say that name 10 times fast), appears on the scene and very nearly puts a kibosh on her charade. Declan, arriving at the Ashwood estate for a horseflesh auction was shocked to find Keira there, let alone impersonating her cousin. Lord Donnelly, not one to miss an opportunity to make Keira squirm, alludes to her wanna-be countess ways in front of Mr. Fish, a servant. Fortunately, Mr. Fish is a gentleman and allows himself to remain perplexed by the whole thing. Crisis averted.
Wanting to be as far away from possible from Keira's shenanigans, Declan makes up his mind to leave as soon possible. He has been burned by her "tricks" before and his manly shoulders are still weighted down with the guilt of it. Fate is a fickle creature though, and he finds himself in her path again and again and again. Or maybe it just that he isn't as adverse to her presence as he convinced himself he is. I'm thinking it is the latter of the two. It is a romance story, after all.
A mystery from the past gives our hero and heroine the perfect excuse to be close to one another (just in case their mutual attraction wasn't enough) and while the investigation progresses, the steam meter goes up and up.
Ms. London's Keira and Declan prove that there is a fine line between love and hate. Both of these characters poke, prod and tease one another, but artfully so. You are still left with the sense that they truly care about each other. Not once do you fight off the urge to roll your eyes, wondering why these two should be together-let alone stars of their own romance novel. You can see that they are both equally stubborn, equally strong, equally intelligent and well, just equal! Always a refreshing change from the damsel in distress scenario.
The witty dialogue riddled with humor, the interesting plot packed with surprises, and the even more interesting subplots make this a fast-paced, enjoyable read. However, it is the brilliantly crafted Keira and Declan that make this a fantastic read!
Kiss or Diss? Definite kiss! Better yet, can Declan kiss me?
-Sarah from RomanticallyReviewed