Captured Innocence

His Last Best Hope

On a Long Ago Night

The Price of Innocence

The Price of Passion

Too Wicked to Marry

 
Scandalous Miranda
by Susan Sizemore
(Avon, $5.99, PG-13) ISBN 0-06-008290-9
***
Scandalous Miranda is Susan Sizemore’s third book about the MacLeods, a family of Scottish spies working for British intelligence in the 1800s. Typical of Ms. Sizemore, it’s not your usual romance.

After an interesting prologue, the book opens with the hero’s interview for the position of the heroine’s secretary. The heroine, Miranda, needs a big, strong, organized man to help her set her travel memoirs to paper and to protect her while traveling. Miranda must return to Italy, and soon, to find the man who helped her when she was seriously injured on a previous trip there. Although Miranda and “Dante,” the man who nursed her back to health, shared a close physical and emotional relationship, she’s never seen him because the injury temporarily blinded her. Her need to be with him again has become consuming, and stubborn Miranda insists on returning despite the disapproval of her family. While having a male secretary isn’t exactly responsible of Miranda socially, she hires the gentleman because he seems honest and capable.

The gentlemanly applicant is actually Andrew MacLeod, disguised as a secretary in order to fulfill a secret assignment for which Miranda’s memories are needed. A traitor was involved in the incident that resulted in Miranda’s injury and it is imperative that Miranda remembers who it was. Unfortunately, Miranda’s memories of that time are vague and she’s chosen to block them completely from her mind. Andrew’s feelings complicate matters because first, he’s the “Dante” that became so close to Miranda in Italy, and second, he’s the guy that shot her.

The author could have made Miranda’s character frail, due to her continuing problems from the gunshot wound to her head, or she could have been the type of stubborn TSTL heroine who constantly puts herself in danger, but fortunately she did neither. Miranda is strong and stubborn, but she’s no idiot. When it becomes evident that the ugly things that happen in her household are a part of a plot to get rid of her, Miranda insists on being kept in the loop and under MacLeod’s protection.

Scandalous Miranda has a great plot. Unfortunately, a great plot doesn’t always make for great reading. While Ms. Sizemore does a wonderful job of keeping up with all the details, the pace was slow and I was completely comfortable in putting the book down several times, and for several days, before finishing it. This as well as a couple of other issues drag the book down from the four heart rating it might have deserved.

Physical romance between the two main characters seemed to take a long time, especially considering the couple’s past. For all the thoughts that went unsaid, and all the unadmitted feelings, there just wasn’t enough sexual tension to make the love scenes worth the wait. What could have been extremely hot was lukewarm at best, and it’s hard to ascertain why Miranda and Andrew are attracted to one another.

The largest issue was a very unfortunate conversation that occurs late in the book, in which Andrew makes a total ass of himself. He seems like such a great hero up to that point, intense, complex and a little vulnerable, and then…that. Sigh. The couple of pages of additional conflict needed to resolve this problem are not worth the loss of regard felt by the reader, and are completely unnecessary to the story.

I suspect that fans of the earlier MacLeod series books will derive a lot of enjoyment from Scandalous Miranda and Andrew’s story, especially since characters from previous books figure prominently. The book does work okay as a stand-alone, even for those readers unacquainted with earlier titles in this series.

One could wish that the title and cover art were less silly, but all in all, Scandalous Miranda is an acceptable read.

.

--Wendy Livingston


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