Just finished reading . . . Scandal by Carolyn Jewel

March 12, 2009 at 7:00 am 21 comments

Scandal by Carolyn Jewel

Scandal by Carolyn JewelSometimes, I have my reading short list planned out: what I’m currently reading (usually 2 or 3 books/audiobooks) and what’s next on deck. Right now, it’s Raven’s Shadow and Queer Wolf for my current reads, with Mr Cavendish, I Presume by Julia Quinn (my TBR Challenge book) and Years by LaVyrle Spencer up next.

Then, yesterday (Tuedsay,) I received a package in the mail from Lea, who had noticed I’d been wanting to read Scandal. She popped it in the mail, and, when I opened the envelope last night, the beautiful cover struck me. “Just a few pages,” I thought . . .

Here is the book description:

The earl of Banallt is no stranger to scandal. But when he meets Sophie Evans, the young wife of a fellow libertine, even he is shocked by his reaction. This unconventional and intelligent woman proves to be far more than an amusing distraction — she threatens to drive him to distraction. Unlike the women who usually fall at Banallt’s feet, and into his bed, Sophie refuses to be seduced. And soon Banallt desires her more than ever — and for more than an illicit affair.

Years later, the widowed Sophie is free, and Banallt is determined to win the woman he still loves. Unfortunately, she doesn’t believe his declaration of love and chivalrous offer of marriage — her heart has already been broken by her scoundrel of a husband. And yet, Sophie is tempted to indulge in the torrid affair she’s always fantasized about. Caught between her logical mind and her long-denied desire, Sophie must thwart Banallt’s seduction — or risk being consumed by the one man she should avoid at all costs . . . 

I first saw Scandal over at Katiebabs’ Babbling about Books and More, back in November, long before it was released. After reading her post, it went up on my upcoming books list. Since then, I’ve read a number of reviews (mostly raves.) What I found interesting, was adjectives like “quiet,” “reflective,” “seething with emotion” (click to see Kati’s review-ish post) to describe the mood of the book. These words were very apt.

The book takes place over almost 4 years, jumping fluidly back and forth between when Sophie and Banallt first meet — she is married to the dissolute Tommy, he is Tommy’s compatriot in whoring, drinking — and the present action — they are both widowed, she is penniless, living with her very protective brother, and he is recently returned from an extended continental trip, forever changed by their last meetings three years earlier.

My only complaint about the book (and it’s a nit-picky one, but I’ve got to voice it anyway) is that we never find out anything about Banallt’s first marriage — other than that he loved her and was unfaithful to her— or even how he was widowed. (Or did I miss that?) It wasn’t necessary for character development, but might have given some insight into his character, and I found it a little distracting when his widowed status was mentioned that the late countess was a complete cypher. However, this one small issue did not detract seriously from my enjoyment of the book.

Most of the book’s action is of an interior sort. From the beginning of the book, Banallt knows he wants to win Sophie. Sophie, utterly shattered by her disastrous marriage to Tommy, has built walls around herself as impregnable as the castle she dreamt of as a child. She knows Banallt has feelings for her, but she can neither trust him to remain faithful, nor trust her own ability to allow herself to be loved again.

Carolyn Jewel’s beautiful prose called sharply to mind Elizabeth Hoyt’s To Seduce a Sinner. (My review of it here.)Like TSaS, Scandal was able to capture an incredible amount of emotion in the simplest of scenes, like when Banallt sees Sophie for the first time in 3 years:

Awesome quote #1:

Anxiety pressed in on Banallt, which annoyed him to no end. What he wanted from this moment was proof she hadn’t taken possession of his heart. That his memories of her, of the two of them, were distorted by past circumstance. They had met during a turbulent time in his life during which he had perhaps not always behaved as a gentleman ought. They had parted on a day that had forever scarred him. He wanted to see her as plain and uninteresting. He wanted to think that, after all, he’d been mistaken about her eyes. He wanted his fascination with her to have vanished.

None of that had happened.

Banallt still thought he’d do anything to take her to bed.

Sophie lifted a hand to shade her eyes. “Hullo . . .” 

So much is left unsaid between Banallt and Sophie, but it is always clear that that does not mean it is unfelt. Some reviews have complained that Sophie takes too long to come around and trust Banallt, and that Banallt doesn’t try hard enough to convince her he’s changed from his rakish ways. However, I don’t agree. While I might have felt frustrated that she didn’t believe him sooner, it was in keeping with her character and experiences. And, for Banallt’s part, he know that if tries harder or is more confrontational with her, she would only think it was more lies.

She needed to change deep within herself, before she could open up her heart to him. Over time, she slowly thaws, and begins to see him in a new light. Even, at one point, literally seeing him as a stranger across a crowded room:

Awesome quote #2:

His looks forbade despite his smile. She’d never but once before seen a face so dangerously handsome. The darkness in his expression drew her in. What lay behind that unknowable face? Something about that smile said, Beware, I’ll break your heart. She was dying to know the color of his eyes.

— and then the puzzle was completed. Her world shifted under her feet; her stomach dropped a mile.

Not a stranger at all. Banallt.

The time in which she did not know him lasted hardly a breath, perhaps two, but so many details lived there. Claret coat, tan pantaloons, top boots, white shirt. From here, she could not see his waistcoat to judge wheter he had come tonight as a dandy or a Corinthian.

Of course it was him. How could she not have recognized him? Her knees went weak, because she had never until this very moment understood how his beauty spoke to her.

Mere looks become revelations in Scandal.

One of my favorite scenes in a book is in Jane Austen’s Persuasion. Captain Wentworth reenters a room filled with visitors, and hands Anne Eliot a letter he has written. He asks her to read it, and leaves. That’s it. But, there is so much restrained emotion in that scene, the reader knows (even before Anne does) that her life will never be the same.

Again and again I was reminded of the same kind of pent up emotion that Persuasion and To Seduce a Sinner had, buried under social conventions and manners. And yet, when Sophie and Banallt do come together, it’s a conflagration. The love scenes were scorching and full of physical as well as emotional heat.

Scandal was a wonderfully satisfying read on all levels.

I’ll definitely be hunting down Carolyn Jewel’s backlist.

  • Carolyn Jewel’s site
  • Excerpt from Scandal.

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Don’t forget to enter the Passing It On Giveaway. Go here to enter! Enter the drawing by midnight, March 14, 2009.

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Entry filed under: awesome quotes, Historical Romance, Just Finished Reading (Review). Tags: , .

My Guy and the Kid Just finished reading . . . Mine to Possess and Deathwish

21 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Kati  |  March 12, 2009 at 8:35 am

    Argh! Now I want to snatch it up and read it again.

    “Seethes” that’s such a perfect description of this book. Everything is so intense without being overwrought at all. Like you, I totally bought why Sophie held off so long. There’s that one scene near the end of the book, where she makes what she thinks is a horrifying confession of guilt to him. It totally made me buy into why she was so reticent about being with him. It truly is such superb writing, isn’t it??

    I just requested her next book to review. I’m hoping I’m as in love with it as I was Scandal, which is easily one of my favorite books of this year.

    I’m so glad you enjoyed it!

    Reply
  • 2. Lea  |  March 12, 2009 at 8:36 am

    I’m so pleased you enjoyed the book Renee!

    Your thoughts are wonderfully expressed as always.

    Warm Regards
    L

    Reply
  • 3. katiebabs  |  March 12, 2009 at 8:41 am

    Scandal was near perfection, but I agree with you about Banallt’s lack of wife or more details about the child he lost.
    But the yearing in his soul for Sophie was a beautiful thing to read. Right now this is my favorite book of the year.

    Reply
  • 4. Renee  |  March 12, 2009 at 8:46 am

    Kati: I actually added a link to your review-ish post a little bit ago, cause it was one that really stuck out for me.
    I love that confession scene! Because what she confesses is surprising for the reader as well, but makes so much sense.
    I was looking over her backlist last night, and saw her paranormal, which I haven’t really heard much about. I’m really excited about the upcoming historical, tho’ and have added it to my upcoming books page.

    Lea: Thank you so much! The book was simply awesome. ((Lea))

    Reply
  • 5. Christine  |  March 12, 2009 at 8:49 am

    I’ve heard so much great feedback for Scandal, I’m so glad you are among those who love this book so much! I love those books that grab you in those first few pages and don’t let you go until the very end. And even then you keep thinking about it. I can’t wait to read it.

    Reply
  • 6. Barbara  |  March 12, 2009 at 8:53 am

    I have this one! Quite a few people have recommended it. I’ll try and get to it soon.

    Great review!

    Oh, btw, guess what came in the mail today??? Lord of Scoundrels!!! YAY!!!

    Reply
  • 7. Renee  |  March 12, 2009 at 9:00 am

    katiebabs: Yes, it totally brought me out of the book every time his widowed status was mentioned, cause I was wondering about her. Of books I read (that were published this year) this is currently my fave historical.

    Christine: I was still thinking about it this morning. Usually reviews sort of “purge” the book a bit from my brain, but this one is lingering a bit.

    Reply
  • 8. Renee  |  March 12, 2009 at 9:03 am

    Barbara: Cool! I sure hope you love Lord of Scoundrels. The heroine, Jessica, is so wonderful. And Dain . . . sigh.

    Reply
  • 9. AmyC  |  March 12, 2009 at 9:06 am

    I have this one on my ereader. I’m glad you liked it too. It’s been well received.

    Reply
  • 10. Renee  |  March 12, 2009 at 9:13 am

    AmyC: Now you know what I’ve been up to when I was supposed to finish Raven’s Shadow. lol
    I think you’ll really love this one.
    And boy, Carolyn Jewel really wrote a couple of amazing love scenes in this one. Not just really hot (which they were) but also really emotional.

    Reply
  • 11. orannia  |  March 12, 2009 at 3:02 pm

    A wonderful review Renee and the quotes are definitely awesome 🙂

    This one sentence in your review sold me on this book:

    She needed to change deep within herself, before she could open up her heart to him.

    I just LOVE books like that! It’s SO on my TBR list!

    Reply
  • 12. Renee  |  March 12, 2009 at 3:42 pm

    orannia: I love those “internal journey” books, too! And, really, that’s what Sophie is on during the course of this book. In some ways, Banallt has already had his epiphany, and Scandal is about hers, and Banallt accompanies her on her journey (tho’ not is a weak/ passive way.) You’ll really love this story! 🙂

    Reply
  • 13. Carolyn Jean  |  March 12, 2009 at 5:20 pm

    Well, thanks so much for those excerpts! And your review isn’t chopped liver either. Very interesting. I’ve been thinking about reading this one. It does sound very interior, which I really do like in a book!!

    Reply
  • 14. Renee  |  March 12, 2009 at 5:37 pm

    CJ: YW and thanks!

    Reply
  • 15. Sarai  |  March 13, 2009 at 8:57 am

    alright I just added this one to the must read pile LOL b/c that pile needs more suggestions

    Reply
  • 16. Renee  |  March 13, 2009 at 9:41 am

    Sarai: My work is done here ::pulls on brim of hat::

    Reply
  • 17. Leonard Rosmarin  |  March 15, 2009 at 1:21 pm

    Dear Renée:
    I very much enjoyed your review of “Scandal.” You are obviously an ideal reader because you analyze a book on its own terms rather than imposing your pre-conceived notions of how a novel should unfold. I saw parallels between Sophir’s dilemma and that of the heroine of my own novel, “Getting Enough.” Although the contexts and characters are very different, my main protagonist is a woman trapped in an acrimonious, hate-filled and sexually unfulfilling marriage to a man whom she typecasts as a wimp and sexual failure. It’s only when she has the courage to go beyond stereotyping that she discovers to her astonishment that he is actually a decent man capable of immense tenderness. He, in turn, no longer views her as a virago. Once they accept each other as vulnerable human beings, they can move forward towards a loving reconciliation. For more information, kindly access the following website: strategicbookpublishing.com/GettingEnough.html.
    Warmest regards
    Leonard Rosmarin

    Reply
  • […] this month, I read Scandal by Carolyn Jewel, and it blew me away. I was so happy to see that she has another historical romance, Indiscreet, to be released October […]

    Reply
  • […] my review for […]

    Reply
  • 20. Top 5 Reads of 2009 « Renee's Book Addiction  |  December 29, 2009 at 8:39 pm

    […] Read my review of Scandal here. […]

    Reply
  • […] her copy. Not only did I enjoy it, but it also became one of my Top 5 reads of 2009. (My review is here). I raved about Scandal to Carolyn (The Thrillionth Page) and told her I would forward the same […]

    Reply

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