"Some things are worth the pain. They're most definitely worth the risk."
We encounter this quote very early on; in fact, it's in the excerpt at the beginning of the book. It should really make no difference because the first time I read it, it was out of context. It was just present as one of those ploys to get you to want to read the book.
Boy, did it work.
I have a thing for romance, but I'm usually a very picky reader. I find most romance novels to be somewhat corny, badly plotted and over too soon. I don't want a hero and a heroine that will get together in the last pages of the book after struggling against their feelings for most it. I want to feel the romance. I want to see it develop. I want to read a book that makes me feel like I was there, like I know these two characters, they're my friends, and I was, somehow, a witness to what transpired between them.
Ashlyn Mcnamara does a pretty fine job of this in "A Most Scandalous Proposal". Well, no. Let's dispense with understatements. She does a brilliant job of it.
Julia St. Claire has spent a long time seeing her sister suffer because of unrequited love. And she has learned her lesson. She is determined to be different. She is determined not to feel.
Benedict Revelstoke has been Julia's friend since childhood. He's certainly never had any romantic feelings for her. He's never had any romantic feelings for anyone. But when Julia's parents conspire to have her married to the same man Sophia has been in love with, Benedict discovers he's been deluding himself. Julia is not merely his friend. She has never been merely his friend.
This, however, is not only Julia's story. It's also Sophia's story.
And it's such a completely different story. Sophia has been in love for years, or so she thinks. But when she's caught in a situation she never expected to find herself in, she's confronted with the idea that love is not always about sighs and drama. Love, sometimes, is calm and quiet. Love can, sometimes, sneak up on you.
What a special treat it was for me to get both sides of the story in the same book. The kind of love that knocks you down, and the kind of love that you never see coming. For me, this is what a romance novel is supposed to be about. Characters that take a journey and invite you along for the ride. Heroines that make you root for them. And, of course, heroes that make you sigh.
I have neglected to mention him before, but I must say that Rufus is my absolute favorite part about the book. Benedict I expected to like. He, however, was a pleasant surprise. And, isn't that what it's all about? Isn't this why we read romance in the first place?
To recap, this is a wonderful debut, very well-written, engaging, and with the little bit of soul that all good romances need. I'll be sure to pick up the next book (Upperton, I'm so glad it's about you!), and any that come after. You should do the same.