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4.0 out of 5 stars Third in the Regency Silk and Scandals series, 27 Aug 2012
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Marshall Lord (Whitehaven, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Smuggler and the Society Bride (Regency Silk & Scandal) (Paperback)
This enjoyable regency romance, set in 1814, is chronologically third in a series of eight books by six different authors which share some common characters and a common background, and which follows on from a terrible tragedy and scandal which had taken place two decades before ...

You will understand this book better if you have first read the first two books in the series, "The Lord and the Wayward Lady" and "Paying the Virgin's price" in which the hero and heroine respectively are the brother and former governess of the heroine of this one. While trying not to give too much away, let's say that the reason you will find it easier to understand what is going on in this book if you have read the previous ones is that a difficult situation has been created for some of the characters in this book as a direct result of the same old scandal which caused problems for the heroes and heroines of the first two books.

Once apon a time three young men of noble birth had been friends and colleagues, working for a government department. But then one of them had been murdered, and a second accused of the crime - and not just hanged for it, but attainted, so that his wife and young children lost everything.

Twenty years later the scandal resurfaces, dragging in the surviving member of the original trio and the children of all three of them. But it is not immediately obvious who is who or what they are up to ...

The "Society Bride" of the title of this book is Lady Honoria Carlow, the daughter of the Earl of Narborough and sister of his son Marcus who was the hero of the first book. Formerly considered a diamond of the ton she has left society in disgrace, her finance has called off their engagement, and she has retired to Sennlack, a coastal village in Cornwall where she is staying with her aunt. She is calling herself "Miss Marie Foxe" - using her middle name and her aunt's surname, to hide from her disgrace.

Like many West Country villages at the time, the people of Sennlack regard "free-trading" e.g. importing goods without paying tax, as a way of life, and Honoria soon chances to observe the very handsome captain of a vessel involved in smuggling when he saves a revenue (customs) officer from drowning.

The same incident draws "Miss Foxe" equally to the attention of Captain Gabriel Hawksworth, a former army officer who left the service when Napoleon was defeated and banished to Elba, and has accepted a temporary post as captain of the smuggling vessel "Flying Gull"

To the maiden daughter of an earl, it would normally be ludicrous to consider any form of dalliance, let alone marrige, to a free-trading captain. But society already considers Honoria to be ruined - and she soon finds herself fighting a strong fascination for him ...

Towards the very end of the book, as a sort of nod to the continuity of the stories, there is a mention of the current status of Honoria's childhood friend Rhys Morgan, who has just left the Army after recovering from terrible wounds recieved during the Peninsular war, and who is to be the hero of the following book.

Like the previous books in this series, the plot of this book is not very plausible - although I have read worse - and it doesn't have the wealth of period detail about the world of the haut ton which the best regency writers such as Georgette Heyer or Marion Chesney (also known as M.C. Beaton) build into their books. There are however some quite good touches and the world of a Cornish village in the early 19th century, is depicted well enough and charmingly enough to make the book quite entertaining.

I would give this book four stars because it fits well into the narrative of the series, however implausible that story may be, and because I liked the characters.

If you appreciate light regency romances with a touch of the cloak and dagger about them, you will probably enjoy this book and the "Regency Silk and Scandals" series, which consists of:

1) "The Lord and the Wayward Lady (Regency Silk & Scandals)" by Louise Allen

2) "Paying the Virgin's Price (Mills & Boon Regency Silk & Scandals)" by Christine Merrill

3) This book, "The Smuggler and the Society Bride" by Julia Justiss

4) "Claiming The Forbidden Bride (MB Continuities)" by Gayle Wilson

5) "The Viscount and the Virgin (Mira (Direct))" by Annie Burrows

6) "Unlacing the Innocent Miss (Mills & Boon Regency Silk & Scandals) (MB Continuities)" by Margaret McPhee

7) "The Officer and the Proper Lady (Regency Silk & Scandal) (MB Continuities)" by Louise Allen

8) "Taken by the Wicked Rake (Mills & Boon - Regency Silk & Scandals) (MB Continuities)" by Christine Merrill.
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The Smuggler and the Society Bride (Regency Silk & Scandal)
The Smuggler and the Society Bride (Regency Silk & Scandal) by Julia Justiss (Paperback - 1 April 2010)
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