The Blanchland Secret


The Earl's Prize

Lady Polly

The Larkswood Legacy

Lord of Scandal

Miss Verey's Proposal

The Notorious Lord

The Penniless Bride

True Colours

The Virtuous Cyprian

Whisper of Scandal
by Nicola Cornick
(Harlequin, $7.99, PG-13) ISBN 978-0-373-77440-1
Whisper of Scandal is a sweet story of two people who initially base their rocky relationship on first impressions and past rumors, but after spending time together, they peel away the facade and discover a relationship they never thought was in their future.

Lady Joanna Ware is a young widow whose husband, Lord David Ware, was an English explorer and adventurer. He was greatly loved by society because of his charisma and heroism. Lady Joanna did not have the same feelings. They had an estranged marriage full of infidelity and cruelty that left Joanna cynical and vowing to never marry again. One of the biggest problems in their marriage was Joanna's inability to produce an heir for Lord Ware.

Alex Grant grew up with David and they worked beside each other for the English Navy exploring the trading paths in the Arctic. Alex had nothing but respect for David and the impression he was given of Lady Joanna was not very flattering.

Alex visits Joanna to pay his respects about 18 months after David dies. When he walks into the room, Joanna throws herself at him and kisses him very passionately. This leaves Alex very confused, especially since it gives him strong feelings of arousal and desire coursing through him. He has no respect for Joanna though he quickly discovers that the spontaneous kiss was all a show to prevent a current suitor from furthering his advances.

Alex and Joanna do nothing but argue when they are together, but they both are feeling an attraction that they can't deny. Alex can't get past the Joanna that David depicted and her seemingly materialistic and shallow personality. Joanna can't seem to break through Alex's facade and the explorer/adventurer personality that she had vowed to stay away from.

Lord David's harshness continues when Alex presents a note to Ware's lawyers that was entrusted to him by David. This note outlines the requirement for Alex and Joanna to travel to the Arctic, rescue his illegitimate Russian child who is currently in an orphanage in Bellsund, Norway, and together serve as the child's guardians. Both Alex and Joanna are in shock and don't know how they are going to be successful when they can't seem to get along.

Joanna has dreamed of having a child, so she will take on David's wish with eagerness even though this child is a result of one of David's escapades with a local Russian while exploring in the Arctic. A Lady traveling such a distance and in such harsh conditions is unbecoming to the Ton, but Joanna has never been overly concerned with Society's edicts. Tolerating Alex will be the biggest challenge for her, especially since they will have to travel in close quarters on a chartered ship for a month.

Whisper of Scandal is a pleasant story that takes the reader on a journey through two peoples' lives, showing them that what you see is not always what you get and letting go of the past can only benefit your happiness. The characters in this book are very likeable and the author gives us nice character development helping them be more relatable.

Alex and Joanna's relationship is what gives the story the pacing that kept me interested. Their interactions are funny, dynamic, and entertaining. Unfortunately, the pacing did have moments that are lacking. There are times where the story is leading up to a nice moment and then rushes through the details and leaves me wanting a little more.

The overall plot is not typical; the usual romance formula is there, but not as apparent. It is refreshing to read a story that is different, but still gives us romance elements we love. On the other hand, the descriptions are deficient throughout the book. I am left confused and not sure exactly what is going on. The dialogue got me through those moments, but I didn't get a good visual of the moment.

I enjoyed the story of Whisper of Scandal, but there are enough flaws that lead me to give the book 3 hearts. It is such a sweet and uplifting story, so I am disappointed that the writing did not quite match the level of the story.

--Nichole Howell

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