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Before the Scandal: The Notorious Gentlemen Mass Market Paperback – 7 Aug 2008
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About the Author
A native and current resident of Southern California, Suzanne Enoch loves movies almost as much as she loves books. When she is not busily working on her next novel, Suzanne likes to contemplate interesting phenomena, like how the three guppies in her aquarium became 161 guppies in five months.
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When Phin arrives, however, things aren't as they seem. William isn't on his deathbed but Beth can't tell him why she begged him to come back. Phin also reacquaints himself with his childhood playmate Alyse Donnelly, now a lovely woman of 25. But Alyse's life has changed considerably since Phil left; she's now at the mercy of her cousin who treats her like a servant. As Phin gets to know Alyse again he discovers that Quence seems to have been suffering a run of bad luck and soon wonders if there's more to it than just misfortune. To find out more he disguises himself as a highwayman and starts to investigate - but can he keep his brother and sister safe, can he rescue Alyse from her dire situation and can he find out who it is who is plotting against Quence, and why?
I enjoyed this book, particularly its main character Phin who was portrayed very well. Despite now being a heroic character, Phin's previous behaviour was not glossed over and his feeling of responsibility for some of the bad events in the past was probably fair. It was harder to understand Alyse whose characterisation was sketchy, but she was still an appealing character. Where this book fell down was the historical accuracy within the dialogue. There were some enormous clangers within the text, such as people saying 'no worries' to each other like modern-day Australians rather than English people from the early 1800s. On many occasions the dialogue felt like modern Americans were speaking rather than Regency Brits and for this English reader that was very noticeable. However overall I did like the story with its different plotline and, despite the rather unlikely events that took place at times, I was caught up with the story for most of its length.
Originally published for Curled Up With A Good Book © Helen Hancox 2008
But this is only one of many problems with this title. I have read several Suzanne Enoch books and this is her worst yet. The contrived plot device of having the hero masquerade as a highwayman is risible, the dialogue stilted and the writing is not of the standard we have come to expect from this author. Miss this one.
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What I liked best was the way the author developed the characters. I loved them both. I don't like a book where I dislike one of the main characters. Someone mentioned that the story was a bit far-fetched since communication could have cleared up a lot of the estate's "mischief", but I disagree. There were reasons why that communication wouldn't have worked. For one, the main antagonist was practically family and for another, Phin's brother was in a wheelchair... hardly able to go into town and investigate. Even so, I don't mind a bit of far-fetched, it is fiction, afterall.
The book was well-written, the characters very well developed and there was more mystery than passionate scenes in this book, which I much prefer. Oh, there were passion scenes, don't get me wrong, but it wasn't the whole focus of the book like in some romance books. After a while they are all the same, so you really need the mystery. For me the mystery was: Who is behind the estate damage? Who owns the killer dogs? Will Alyse side with her lover or her family? How will Phin flush out the truth? This book was a real page-turner. This book has characters you will love and when you reach the last page you will sigh and regret there isn't more. Now that's a good read.
So my next book is about Phin's friend, Sullivan, and then Bram. I hope they are as good as this one was.
The story was mostly from a hero's view point. Phineas Bromley is back from war, summoned by his younger sister on false pretenses, to fix mysterious goings-on on his family estate, and has an estranged relationship with his older brother. So not only does he have to determine and fix the issues on the estate, but he also has to repair his relationship with his brother and redeem himself. Along with it is a romance with a neighbor turned companion to an aunt, Alyse.
Personally, I enjoyed the story. I was up half the night to finish the book because the suspense was well written enough for me to want to know what happens next, especially with the highwayman and his two friends and how the villain is brought to justice. :)
Most of the characters are really well written. I loved Phineas, William, LOVED Gordon the sidekick 'man' cum valet, and hated the Aunt as I should have. The weakest character was Alyse, the heroine. She was realistic and level headed in her thinking and questioning everyone's motives based on her circumstances, but I was reading a romance novel, and expected the heroine to want to be with and root for the hero a bit more than Alyse did throughout. She is the only reason I took stars off an otherwise good story.
As for sizzle, there's some hot kisses, and even some sex.
Book Rating - 4 stars
Sizzle Rating - 3 stars
Alyse was once the belle of the ball. Coming from a titled family and having looks and charm she was sought after by many gentlemen. But a scandal and the death of her parents changed all that. She is now essentially a Cinderella type figure in her home, catering to a cranky aunt and her over indulged son.
Phin rushes home when he gets a letter from his little sister thinking his brother is ill. What he finds is a healthy brother, an estate in trouble and Alyse. He's shocked and secretly thrilled that she is still unmarried; their friendship picks up where it left off.
I really teetered on the rating of this book. My first problem was the title of the book, it promises a scandal and I was expecting a scandal involving the two main characters. The actual scandal itself is a little lame. Another issue I had was the `mystery' with the accident prone estate, it dragged on a bit and I couldn't help but think all of it could have been solved with a little communication.
For the most part though, I really enjoyed it; the characters are charming and entertaining. The aunt is written so well that I absolutely hated her; I kept hoping Alyse would trip her or something. The villains are loath worthy and the heroes loveable. I hope she writes next about Phin's sister Beth and his pal, Lord Bramwell, next. I wouldn't mind hearing about his brother, William, some more, either. This book is not as good as the first book in the series, After the Kiss: The Notorious Gentlemen, but still an enjoyable read.
Cherise Everhard, August 2008