From the moment Daphne, Lady Pomeroy, meets the mysterious Marquess of Hartwell at a masquerade ball, she’s determined to seduce him. The handsome, charming man cannot possibly be the cold, calculating lord who Society calls “Black Hart.” Risking everything, the lonely widow invites the elusive Hartwell to her dinner party . . . for two.
Hartwell’s arrogant reputation is built on a lie. For he has a shameful secret that keeps him in the shadows: a stutter—his downfall since childhood. He’d rather keep his mouth shut than look the fool. But he’s shocked to discover that in Daphne’s company—and in her bed—his stutter vanishes.
After one wanton evening together, Daphne is hurt when the lord lives up to his Black Hart name. Yet his reasons for leaving surprise even him. Now he must confess everything or risk losing Daphne forever.
One of my guilty pleasures in romance novels is misunderstood main characters. If there is a hero/heroine that is thought to be snobby or aloof when they are truly shy, I will read it and, more than likely, love it. That is what attracted me to Karen Erickson's latest historical romance novella, A Scandalous Affair. This book is the third in Erickson's Merry Widows series though I read it as a stand-alone without any trouble.
Our hero is Camden, Marquess of Hartwell, who has obtained the nickname of Black Hart due to his seemingly cold nature. Unfortunately, his reputation covers up a great shame (according to Camden). He is extremely shy and deals with a pronounced stutter especially when he gets anxious. This has led him to become wary of talking to strangers and interacting with Society as a whole. I really felt for Camden as Erickson depicted how lonely he was and how ashamed of his affliction. The masquerade allowed him to become comfortable with social interactions and brought out the true charming side of his personality which is what attracted our heroine, Daphne, to him.
Daphne is a lonely widow who is being hounded by family and friends to find another husband. But, she only has eyes for the quiet, handsome marquess that she dances with at the masquerade. I wish that I had been given a little bit more about Daphne's character through the course of the story. It seemed like there was little time spent on her personality besides the fact that she was a widow and very lonely. Her actions were difficult to predict because of a lack of knowledge on my side.
This story is fairly short and moves along at a quick pace. There are some cute interactions between Daphne and Camden that made me care about them as a couple. The love scenes are appropriately spicy without being too erotic. I think that I would have preferred this book to be a full-sized romance rather than a novella. The concept is wonderfully done and the characters had definite potential so I wish there was more to it. Overall, I did enjoy the story and found it to be a nice way to spend a few hours.
**Thanks to Netgalley and Carina Press for providing me with an ARC of A Scandalous Affair in exchange for an honest review.**
The Merry Widows
1. Lessons in Indiscretion
2. Her Christmas Pleasure
3. A Scandalous Affair