After watching her beloved sister Sophia pine over the ton’s Golden Boy for years, Miss Julia St. Claire has foresworn love and put herself firmly on the shelf. Unfortunately, her social-climbing mother and debt-ridden father have other ideas, and jump at the chance to marry Julia off to the newly-named Earl of Clivesden…the man of Sophia’s dreams.
Since resigning his Cavalry commission, Benedict Revelstoke has spent his time in London avoiding the marriage mart. But when he discovers that the Earl of Clivesden has set Julia in his sights, Benedict tries to protect his childhood best friend from the man’s advances—only to discover more than friendship driving his desire to defend her. He surprises them both with the force of his feelings, but when she refuses him and her father announces her betrothal, he fears he’s lost her forever—until Julia approaches him with a shocking scheme that will ruin her for all respectable society…and lead them into an exquisite world of forbidden pleasures.
I love finding debut authors especially in historical romance so I was pumped when I got an e-ARC for Ashlyn Macnamara's A Most Scandalous Proposal. When I'm reading a debut, I look for certain things such as writing style, creativity, and potential for future works. I did have a few issues with the plot and the development of some of the characters, but, overall, I believe Ms. Macnamara has hit all the marks I desire for a new author.
There are two love stories going on in this book. The main one (which is mentioned in the book summary above) involves Julia, a proper lady, and her childhood friend Benedict while the other one focuses on Julia's sister Sophia and Rufus, a widower who helps her with a difficult situation. When there are two main plots going on, it can be difficult for writers to keep everything balanced and I think this author does a decent job with it. There are moments when I was impatient about what couple was being featured when, but this was rare.
Julia was a very admirable heroine with her intelligence and sympathetic nature. I really liked how outspoken she was about what she wanted or needed. As a hero, Benedict was appropriately bullheaded and romantic towards Julia whom he has loved since their childhood. I would like to have learned more about his character, but some things are sacrificed when there are multiple plots in a book. The romance between them was very sweet though it did have a tendency to get melodramatic especially by the end. I found that I enjoyed the moments where it was just the two of them more than when they were with the larger cast.
My personal favorite story involved Julia's sister Sophia and her hero. I really liked Rufus's character and how devoted he was despite Sophia's unfortunate crush on the rakish new Earl of Clivesden. He is a true gentleman in every sense of the word and I admired him for that. Sophia took some getting used to with her unwavering devotion to Clivesden, but I was eventually able to look past that. The scenes between Rufus and Sophia were always so much fun to read and I found myself wishing they were the main focus.
Despite some of the uneveniness of the plotting, I really enjoyed this historical debut. The writing is easy to read and has a nice flow to it. I liked how Macnamara built her Regency-era world and created an intriguing cast of secondary characters. I definitely look forward to more of her work especially if it involves Benedict's rakish best friend, Upperton.
Thanks to Netgalley and Ballantine for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
1. A Most Scandalous Proposal
2. A Most Devilish Rogue (Coming August 2013)