I thought SCANDALOUS was an extremely enthralling and compelling story, as well as, an excellent debut novel.
The story's hero Dominic Mallory, is a handsome, sexy, charismatic rake and an intelligent self made man of means. Unfortunately, he's also the Mallory family secret ~ a bastard son, who was hated by his supposed father, the late Lord Harborough and who taught Dominic's older brother Cole to hate and despise him as well. Being treated like a pariah has left Dominic cynical, secretive and because of the many issues he has yet to come to terms with, completely disillusioned with the idea of falling in love.
To all outward appearances Katherine Fleming is a soft-spoken, caring and virtuous woman but her seemingly gentle temperament hides a tenacious strong-will and an intensely passionate nature. She has a clearly defined idea of the type of husband who would suit her needs and has spent the last 3 years looking for a man to meet those requirements. She wants a husband with a fortune of his own and because she'd been a lonely only child, someone who would provide companionship and hopefully friendship. Unlike most women, she's not looking for someone to fall passionately in love with ~ she doesn't want the heartache and suffering that she feels will inevitably follow when lust, desire and novelty of love wares off.
Her fiancé Colden Mallory, Lord Harborough, seems the to be the perfect match, until just days before their wedding he shockingly announces that his late wife is ~ miraculously alive. In order to save Katherine from being ruined by the scandal that will surely follow this news, and because Dominic wants the house that he thinks hold the answer to his parentage, they both allow Cole to manipulate them into a marriage of convenience.
The story's hero and heroine, Dominic and Katherine, were warm, likable and compassionate, and both had a remarkably poignant and riveting story to tell. These were in my opinion, fully fleshed out and completely convincing lifelike characters that were caught up, initially against their will, in a tempestuous, deeply emotional, and yet, hopeful and surprisingly tender romance. Although I believe a traditional historical romance novel is primarily about the journey the hero and heroine take to find their way to love and their happily ever after ending ~ there was plenty of sexual tension between the characters and the story contained enough steamy sex scenes to satisfy most readers.
I also enjoyed the secondary cast of characters ~ the good and the bad ones ~ all were interesting and intriguing. They heightened and enhanced the storyline precisely as secondary characters are intended to do.
I felt author's style of writing was both smooth and refined. Her ardent, rousing and sensual descriptions admirably expressed the undeniable attraction felt by Dominic and Kat and her illustrative prose conveyed vivid and stirring imagery that immediately pulled me into the story and kept me turning the pages.
I've been reading historical romance for many, many years and I know what exactly what I like ~ for me this was a thoroughly satisfying story ~ Brava, Ms. Petersen!