Scandal of the Year by Laura Lee Guhrke
published by Avon in January 2011
One tryst was all she wanted...Genre: Historical romance
From their very first meeting, Julia knew that Aidan Carr, the oh-so-proper Duke of Trathen, had a bit of the devil in him, a devil who secretly yearned for what he could not have, a devil who harbored a desire for her. So when she needed to be caught in a compromising situation, Aidan was the answer to her prayers.
One tryst just wasn’t enough...
Aidan is supposed to be looking for a bride, yet his scandalous liaison with Julia is all he can think about. Hot, erotic memories of kissing her skin, falling into her bed, pulling her naked body on top of his own continue to torment and tempt him. What is it about this brazen seductress that he finds so hard to resist? And how can he stop himself from falling into her bed a second time?
Series: Abandoned at the Altar, Book #2
The Story: Scandal of the Year opens up with Aidan Carr, Duke of Trathen, making, for the third time, a foray into the ton and the Season in order to find himself a bride. Being a duke and wealthy should put all odds on his side; however, there's the fact that he has two broken engagements under his belt and let's not forget he was a party in last year's juiciest scandal! Indeed, being found in the aftermath of a tryst with Julia, Lady Yardley, by her husband and then, having his name dragged into the divorce court... The worst is that Aidan doesn't know how it happened as he dislikes Julia and her bold personality. Yet, he cannot forget her and wished he could remember more about their tryst than just flashes of it.
After years of evading her husband, Julia is finally free! To start her new life on the right foot though, Julia would like to acquit herself from all her debts... Only problem is that she has no funds and does not want to burden her family. However, through some encounters and opportunities, Julia finds herself to be Aidan's social secretary and her job is to steer him to the right social events and finding him a bride. This suits Julia perfectly since she's still feeling guilty for dragging Aidan into her mess and all she wants is for him to be happy...
However, what if she was the only one who could make him happy?
My Opinion: After reading Wedding of the Season, I did something I rarely do... I read the excerpt of Scandal of the Year because I was really looking forward to Julia and Aidan's story. There was just something about Julia that attracted me... Lucky for me I didn't have to wait long to read Scandal of the Year! I don't know what I would have done otherwise :) Scandal of the Year ended up to be a really good read, but not what I expected...
What surprised me the most is that Julia and Aidan have a past together. A chance encounter when both were younger, just before Julia was to marry Lord Yardley. This encounter was innocent enough - two strangers met and struck a conversation, perhaps more casual than it should be; yet, it was special because neither ever forgot each other. It's something that they share and is crucial for this story. To be truthful though, I'm not totally sure how I feel about it. I like it because it links them, it gives them a past... At the same time, I think it's the encounter itself. I know Julia is bold and outspoken, but would she share that much with a stranger? Perhaps given her situation and the fact that she had no one to confide in...
Something else that surprised me was Julia's character. I always thought that Scandal of the Year was a 'happy-go-lucky heroine thawing stuffy hero' kind of storyline, my favorite :) However, Julia is a far cry from being happy-go-lucky. Readers are able to glimpse at some of the darkness surrounding Julia in Wedding of the Season; however, we really get the full story in Scandal of the Year... It goes beyond simple unhappiness because she doesn't love her husband. She entered her marriage to redeem herself for being too rebellious and what she steps in is hell. After knowing everything, I can't help but admiring Julia for her strength. I admire her, because she didn't give up on herself, she didn't let herself be a victim and never lost herself. She was smart, didn't let what society thought of her affect her, didn't let society pressure her and that's commendable when you think of the time period, a time where women were vulnerable because they didn't have much rights. Still she fought for herself. The most admirable is that she kept it from her family and friends, the strong front she had to put for them... Was it the best decision? Not sure, but again, it wasn't simply because she didn't want to hurt there, but also, what could they do? The only thing Julia could do was to get a divorce and she achieved it. I also really liked her love for her family, especially her cousins. When Beatrix and Aidan first met? That must have been heart-breaking to Julia, to step aside, losing the opportunity to free herself so her cousin could be happy. You don't realize it by the way she talks, the way she acts, but there is a selflessness in her that's for a lack of better word, admirable :) And after everything, she was still herself, still going to live and live a good life. I'm telling you, admirable. So in a way, her strength absolutely surprised me, in the best way possible.
Aidan was a good character as well. There was a stuffiness to him, but he was not pompous. He is just acting the way he thinks a duke should: honorably. I really liked the fact that he was there during Julia's divorce to give his testimony and not just sending a written statement. He's someone who takes his responsibilities seriously and assumes his mistakes and errors. Which I really like of him, especially when he admits that his judgement of Julia was wrong. I think honorable is a word that describes him very well. However, as the blurb says, there is a bit of a devil in him, the part of him who wants to act spontaneously, to do what he wants and damn the world. I did see glimpses of him, but I would have liked to see more of it. I would have liked to see more development and transition for his character, especially when he finally admits to himself that he loves Julia. The realization seemed a little too abrupt, especially when he starts to really pursue Julia, to make her admit her feelings. That's my only complaint when it comes to Aidan :)
The romance itself was nice, but I would have liked a little bit more. I mean, it took time for both to realize their feelings and then, it was kind of a cat and mouse chase. I guess I would have liked them to spend more time together being honest with their feelings. I liked how Aidan finally got to know Julia, the real her, and was so protective of her :) I do think it was clumsy though of Aidan to propose when he did, knowing what Julia went through and knowing she was skittish. Yes, Aidan was in no way the same as Lord Yardley, but still... To declare so soon and not give her time to adapt... Luckily, what saved it is that Julia came to him. Again, I do think it was a bit fast and I would have liked to see Julia's thought process, but I guess the book needed to be wrapped up ^_^;
My Grade: B+. For me, Aidan and Julia - especially Julia's character - made the book for me. I enjoyed their characters and liked their story... I do think that the pacing of the whole storyline was a little off and that resulted in the ending being a little bit rushed... and that accounts for the grade :) Once again, I like the period setting and I'm looking forward to the third book!! A pity it only comes out in January 2012, sigh.