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Scandalous Ever After (Romance of the Turf) Mass Market Paperback – July 4, 2017
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"A solid effort from an up-and-coming writer." - Kirkus
""Abounds with delightful characters...an entertaining collision of crossed purposes and mixed messages ensues."" - Publishers Weekly
"Romain delivers another exciting and romantic installment in her Romance of the Turf series, which will make horse racing buffs stand up and cheer." - RT Book Reviews, 4 stars
"Romain's elegant prose, inventive plotting, brilliantly nuanced characters, and refreshingly different setting make her latest superbly written romance de rigueur for Regency romance fans." - Booklist, STARRED review
"Enchanting worlds, mesmerizing characters, precisely worded dialogues, and prose so sublime, it's hard to believe that Theresa Romain is a young 21st Century woman...Ms. Romain gets better with every book she writes." - Fresh Fiction
About the Author
Historical romance author Theresa Romain pursued an impractical education that allowed her to read everything she could get her hands on. She then worked for universities and libraries, where she got to read even more. Eventually she started writing, too. She lives with her family in the Midwest.
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Evan Rhys is an antiquities expert who is planning to go to Greece, but his plans change when Lady Kate Whelan arrives unexpectedly after one of his magic lantern presentations. Kate was married to Evan’s best friend Conn, who tragically passed away two years ago. Evan had been a frequent houseguest at Conn’s Irish estate, but he has not visited- or seen Kate- since Conn’s funeral.
There is a horse racing connection to be found here- Kate’s father has one of the finest stables in the district, and in fact, Kate and Conn met all those years ago because Conn traveled to England in search of horses and returned to Ireland with a young wife. There is also the matter of strange occurrences near the Irish estate. However, both of those elements take a back seat to a much simpler story of two people trying to figure out where their relationship stands and what they mean to each other. Evan has been in love with Kate since the first time he met her, and he hated the way that Conn took Kate for granted by being unfaithful numerous times. Frankly, Kate is not sure what she wants, but she feels overwhelmed by the demands of the estate, and she appreciates the comforting presence of an old friend.
Scandalous Ever After has the perfect balance of humor and angst. Evan and Kate have good chemistry together, but there is definitely some struggling as they redefine their relationship. My favorite parts of the story would have to be the visit with Evan’s family in Wales when they were en route back to Ireland and when we finally meet Kate’s mother-in-law- good old Gwyn.
I would absolutely recommend Scandalous Ever After to fans of historical romance. I first discovered Theresa Romain earlier this year when I read Passion Favors the Bold, an entry in her Royal Rewards series. I have not read A Gentleman’s Game, the first Romance of the Turf book, but Scandalous Ever After functions well as a standalone. I have, however, added A Gentleman’s Game to my (never-ending) reading queue and I am looking forward to reading more of Romain’s books in the future.
I received a digital copy of this book from Netgalley/the publisher in exchange for an honest review, but I purchased my own copy as soon as this book was released.
My auto-buy list, which once contained 12-14 HR authors, has now dwindled down to two or three. I buy far fewer historical romances now because I've become disillusioned with certain aspects of the genre...and, sadly, I have far less money to spend on books than I used to!
This book served as a perfect reminder of why Theresa Romain is one of those 2-3 authors whose work I still can't wait to devour. First and foremost, she's just such a stellar writer. If you have friends who automatically deride the writing quality of all books in this genre, Theresa Romain is the author I'd probably use to prove them wrong. Her prose and dialogue are impeccably well-crafted, loaded with wit and a surprising amount of psychological depth and insight yet still delightfully easy to read. (As opposed to authors who, in an attempt to seem more 'literary', write exhaustingly long, taxing paragraphs filled with overstuffed sentences and awkwardly pretentious phrasing!)
The other thing that sets Romain's books apart from the increasingly lackluster pack for me is that she writes such kind, genuinely lovable heroes. One main reason I've become less and less enchanted with the genre over the past couple of decades is that we're so often asked to root for ostensible "heroes" who can seem more like villains---nasty, bitter, cruel-to-everyone-except-occasionally-the-heroine jerks or Regency Era frat boys who stagger through life drunk, egregiously selfish, and proudly sleeping with every woman on the continent until our heroine has the pleasure of taming him. Some may find Romain's more "beta" heroes less interesting, but I find them so much more complex, relatable and just plain likable.
Most of Romain's heroes and/or heroines have certain hardships and internal struggles beyond the usual obstacles we see, e.g. 'needs a wife to satisfy his parents' or 'needs more money to care for her family.' In this one, Evan has struggled with what would be diagnosed as depression if he were alive today. The author depicts this with a great deal of sensitivity: she poignantly shows how it's affected him---as someone who's battled depression throughout my life, I can attest to the accuracy! Rest assured that this doesn't make for a bleak and joyless read by any stretch, though---Evan is a funny, warm, wryly self-aware, brave and layered character who's not defined solely by his struggles.
Like a few other people here, I had trouble connecting with Kate initially. She seemed so defined by her role as an irresponsible jerk's widowed wife that I couldn't get a sense of who she was outside of it. But a few lines Romain scattered throughout about how Kate "didn't know who to be" (that may not be the EXACT wording, but it's close!) made me realize that that's the point: Kate, like many women then and some now, DIDN'T have a strong sense of who she was outside of her role as wife, and this particular marriage did a lot to erode her trust in herself and others. When viewed through that lens, her inconsistency and uncertainty with regard to our wonderful Evan became more understandable to me: her marriage had left her struggling to figure out who she truly was, how she really felt, and how and whether to act accordingly.
As with most romances, there are a few points where I rolled my eyes a bit and just wanted them to get it the heck together already, but that's as much due to my own typical lack of patience as it is to this book and its characters :) It's worth noting that Kate isn't just some indecisive, insecure wet blanket---she's funny, spirited in her own way, quite determined, and is clearly a loving and passionate woman. I ended up liking her a lot more than I expected and, more importantly, totally bought into the bond between her and Evan.
The pacing is a little slow and the plotting is a little lacking. That doesn't factor heavily into my opinion of a romance---I'm all about the characters, dialogue, prose and blend of humor and "awwww"-eliciting sweetness!---but if intricate plots and quick pacing are important to you, this book might not fully satisfy you. The sex scenes are somewhat lukewarm---maybe I'm just projecting here, but sometimes I get the feeling that Theresa Romain doesn't really enjoy writing the explicit sex scenes that are expected in nearly every romance novel any more than I enjoy reading them. Explicit sex scenes are something I always skim at this point anyway because I find the painfully detailed, play-by-play descriptions of anything beyond kissing to be un-sexy and just not very enjoyable to read, but I know I'm in a very small minority :) Anyway, I'm thinking some fans might not find these scenes as 'steamy' as they'd like, but as you can tell from what I just wrote, I'm far from an expert on that aspect of romance novels!
If you love kind, funny, eminently relatable 'beta' heroes and are as delighted and inspired by great prose and dialogue as I am, this is a must buy!
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Review by Georgianna Simpson
Scandalous Ever After is a historical romance love story with a bit of mystery included.Read more