Monday, February 18, 2013

REVIEW: A Most Scandalous Proposal by Ashlyn Macnamara

Disclaimer:  I received my copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley.

Ashlyn Macnamara’s smart and sexy debut is a pleasure to read and should earn her place in the annals of talented historical romance authors.

Benedict Revelstoke is shocked, no alarmed to find his childhood friend, Miss Julia St. Clare, the object of a wager in the infamous betting book at White’s.  As if the bet itself wasn’t outrageous enough, the wager’s been placed by the man who hopes to land Julia. The same man that Julia’s sister, Sophia, finds herself desperately in love with--William Ludlowe.  When Benedict learns that Julia means to accept Ludlowe’s suit because of a misguided notion, he makes a practical counter offer.

This story has been touted as a take on Sense and Sensibility and I can certainly see the parallels: one eminently sensible sister, the other in love with being in love and an utter cad coming between them. Being a Janeite, I was very excited to read a variation on Austen's theme.  But in my mind, this story is extremely original, even with its nod to Austen, in its realistic portrayal of all the characters’ circumstances and emotional reactions to said circumstances.  Julia’s desire to please her parents, to sacrifice herself to Ludlowe in order to save Sophia from unrequited affection and to settle herself into the unhappy life she thinks she deserves, all ring true.  Macnamara’s talent with language and her deft turn of phrase will have you eagerly re-reading passages.  Though Sophia’s story arc takes a few twists and turns and I did find myself wanting to strike her with a heavy object from time to time, things settle on a very satisfying note. Throughout Sophia’s storyline, her emotions and reactions show her to be a layered and textured character.

Usually I take a few turns with the hero, just to get their measure, both physically and mentally, but Benedict is so finely written that I could picture him in my mind from the beginning and he only rose in my estimation with each page.  Even when the characters reach a turning point, I couldn’t help cheering for them because they were so “real” and behaved like people instead of clichéd, cookie-cutter, tried-and-true characters.  That is a feat not easily achieved and Macnamara does it with aplomb.  Plus the sensuality and passion of this piece is smoothly done, especially in a friends-to-lovers piece where things can sometime seem awkward in that transition. 

Do yourself a favor and visit the author's site.  She's a wealth of information on Regency times and customs and it shows in her writing.  I absolutely adore books that entertain and teach me something at the same time.  The hot and sexy book trailer for A MOST SCANDALOUS PROPOSAL is just a bonus for visiting there :-).

I highly recommend this book and can’t wait for this author’s next book.


Jaye Garland said...

LOVE all the buzz about this book. I pre-ordered and cannot wait to get my hands on this intriguing story. Gorgeous cover, by the way. :)

Kathleen Bittner Roth said...

Lots of good things going for this story: Great cover, great blurb, and the tantalizing concept and good reviews coming in make me want to run out and buy it.

Anonymous said...

Sounds like a fun read!

Pamala Knight said...

Jaye, the buzz is exciting right? The cover is gorgeous, though for some reason I keep thinking it looks more like Sophia in my mind, instead of Julia :-)

Kathleen! Thank you for stopping by. You're not going to regret it once you get your hands on this book. It's not one of those historicals where all the details fall out of your head the minute you're done reading. No this one is a smart one that leaves an impression.

Anon-, So glad to see you stop by. I hope you enjoy the book.

Mom said...

I've been waiting with bated breath for this one for a long time, and it's really remarkable to see it coming with such a spectacular splash!

By the way, I may come up as Mom, but most people know I'm not YOUR Mom. Or Ash's, come to that!

Ashlyn Macnamara said...

Hi Pamala, and thanks for the lovely review. I'm very touched.

I'm mostly replying to comment on the cover art. I agree that the cover lady looks more like my vision of Sophia--and she did even more so in her first incarnation. I asked the art department to darken her hair, because it was even more golden blond in the original picture. My mental vision of Julia is more Olivia Wilde:


Pamala Knight said...

Ah Mom, but WE like to think of you as our Mom :)

AMSP is definitely a savory bit and I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Thanks for stopping by!

Pamala Knight said...

Ashlyn, thank you for stopping by!

Olivia Wilde gives a great visual to Julia and I agree, Ms. Wilde's coloring fits my mental picture a bit better. That notwithstanding, the book cover is still gorgeous :).

KC said...

Wow this book sounds so good. What a great job of getting me excited to read! And I have to say that I LOVE the trailer. Super hot!

Pamala Knight said...

KC- We love anything that gets us excited to read, right? And OMG, that trailer is hot!!! It doesn't hurt that the cover for the next book is right there, mesmerizing me with the sight of that strong, masculine view from the back ;-)

Thanks for stopping by! I really appreciate it.

Barbara said...

What a good review. I really enjoyed the take on the story. The blurb is great and I'm so looking forward to reading the book. I've haunted the B*N store, asking for the lay-down date :)

Pamala Knight said...

Hi Barb! Release date is next Tuesday 2/26, but hopefully B&N will have it stocked ahead of time so that we can indulge ourselves in a little game of cell phone picture tag :)

Thanks for stopping by.

Marilyn Brant said...

What a wonderful review, Pamala! You've got me so intrigued -- this sounds like a Regency I'd really enjoy -- thank you for sharing your thoughts!! xo

Pamala Knight said...

Oh I think you'd enjoy it Marilyn. I hope you get a chance to read it and thanks for stopping by!!