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.