Romance, Historical, Contemporary, Paranormal, Young Adult, Book reviews, industry news, and commentary from a reader's point of view

Kalen Hughes

REVIEW: Lord Scandal by Kalen Hughes

REVIEW: Lord Scandal by Kalen Hughes

Dear Ms. Hughes,

lord-scandal-coverLast year I found “Lord Sin” to be a great and happy surprise. As you’d already written a follow up to it, I was poised for more happiness. Well, I was sorta happy but, alas, not quite as much.

Gabriel Angelstone can’t believe his luck when he discovers that the subject of the infamous divorce portrait is also a guest at the country houseparty of his newly married female BFF George. Gabriel happily anticipates some sexual fun until Imogen sets him straight. “No huggie or kissie” from this woman attempting to edge her way back into polite society.

After her boorish first husband believed the rumors which circulated through London society, he went to the extraordinary length to get a divorce. Can’t have rumors about one’s wife ruining one’s political future. Tossed out on her ass by her husband, banished by her family, Imogen has eked out an existence until George takes her under her wing and decides to resuscitate her life. Imogen’s hopes for this endeavor are simple and she’s aware that she needs to be Caesar’s wife. If only she didn’t find Gabriel so damned attractive and unable to resist.

Though the book follows “Lord Sin” and features many of the same characters, I don’t believe it necessary to have read “Sin” first. One thing that I noticed again is that there are a lot of characters. A ton of the ton, shall we say? So many that I had to sit a spell to try and remember who they all are and their relationships. And even after I was well into the story, I was still having to stop to untangle them in my mind.

I adore Gabriel Angelstone even though his name makes me wince. But at least his given name not some variant of Devil or Lucifer or some other totally asinine moniker. The nickname Brimstone I actually found kind of cute. Anyway, he’s great. He stays the same character through the whole book without suddenly doing an about face at book’s end. He knows what he wants, he’s open about it, he gives Imogen plenty of time to make up her mind. And then make it up again. He flirts with his body as well as his mind which just sounds like a delicious combination.

The grin that I got while reading how Gabriel routs Imogen’s bully of a brother almost split my face. Richard is such a rat bastard that I could fully picture Gabriel grabbing him by the scruff of the neck, like a terrier, and shaking him til Richard’s teeth rattled.

His unholy glee at challenging Imogen’s first ass of a husband practically radiated off the screen of my Sony. The duel scene was a hoot and along with the initial challenge shows how the sporting set is ready to stand behind Gabriel and Imogen. The fillip of humiliation that Morpeth adds with the doctor’s bill was the icing on the cake.

And if I’d had to chase after Imogen after she hightailed it for Scotland, riding in the pouring rain, on mud filled streets and roads, she would be shrinking back a little from me too. Gabriel goes to excessive lengths to get this woman and I hope he’s happy with her.

Because, oh sweet Lord, I got sick of waffling Imogen. At first she is living the quiet life just content with slowing easing her way back into society after the disastrous divorce from her husband.

– And by the way, but what exactly was up with the portrait? Why was it painted, who painted it and how did the rumor about Imogen’s infidelity get started? I would hope her husband had something besides tabby gossip on which to base his House of Lords suit for divorce. –

Then she’s depicted as having somewhat of an impish sense of humor – which could desert her at a moment’s notice and not show up again for most of the book – when she trods on Gabriel’s boots and routs him in George’s country garden. Then she’s determined to keep him at arm’s length. Then she wants him and allows liberties in the garden. Then she changes her mind when her brother threatens her and her emerging place in society is at risk. Then, wait, she decides to give in since they’re at the lodge after the rained out hunt but oh, she can’t make up her mind – should she let him come to her at night for the rest of the houseparty? Yes, let’s fuck like bunnies.

But no! After he asks her to freakin marry him – she can’t possibly allow that! She’ll be ruined. He’ll be ruined. Must deny, deny, deny him. But her traitorous body urges her to kiss him when they’re in London, and maybe they wouldn’t be ruined after all. Yes! Let’s get married. But only until Gabriel does what he must and faces down her ex-husband then – whoops, wedding’s off again and she must flee…

One minute she’s skirting around Gabriel the next she doesn’t want to let him take the lead. Then she’s shy then she’s going after sex like a cat in heat. I felt I needed a score card to try and keep up with her weathervaning changes of mood and mind. And I got truly tired of trying to understand her since I couldn’t.

The sporting men of the ton still worship George – which was no change from her own book. She’s still the same person as her book along with almost all the other characters so at least I wasn’t dealing with any 180 flips but it was easier to deal with all this worshiping in “Lord Sin.” It’s getting tiresome here. Let George sit the next book out and have its own heroine be the one who shines.

I like learning about life in the eighteenth century but others might be bored by the slow pace of large chunks of the book. Imogen learns to shoot a gun. Imogen learns about horse races. Gabriel grins and swans around searching out Imogen at house parties. George gets worshipped by her “set.” At times, it began to get tedious.

The head hopping might also drive some readers berserk. I didn’t have a problem with it as you quickly gave some clue as to whose head we were currently in but I know this is a bugaboo for others.

I’d snap up Gabriel in a heartbeat but Imogen annoyed me to no end. Still, I’ll be looking forward to your next book and hoping it delves even more into the emerging events in France. B-

~Jayne

This book can be purchased in mass market from Amazon or Kindle ebook format. (can’t find in other formats)

Dear Author

REVIEW: Lord Sin by Kalen Hughes

Dear Ms Hughes,

book review It won’t take people long to realize that this book is something different. It’s not just that it isn’t a Regency or that it’s not about vampires and that it doesn’t have any Navy SEALS littering the narrative. It’s a Georgian English historical, and I don’t think there can be too many of those, that features an experienced heroine, and IMO, a hero who might not be as quite strong as she. Yes, what I said. Something different.

I can understand Ivo’s initial anger at George. Six years ago he challenged a man to a duel for her honor and he’s been made to pay for what he did, even if she never asked it of him. Now he wants some kind of payback and he’s pissed that his efforts to keep her name unsullied are, in his viewpoint, being thrown away by her as she saunters around prizefights and takes lovers. How dare she! Mrs. Georgianna Exley, on the other hand, is totally unaware of his feelings and astounded when he reveals them to her. Shows how the same event can be seen in totally different ways.

When he bargains with her for six nights of her favors, one for each year he was in exile from England, he’s getting his own back while she fondly imagines she’s just scratching an itch. Because George is no virgin widow! Major huzzahs. In fact, she’s experienced and not afraid to show what she wants or embarrassed to go for what she wants or is willing to do for him. Much to Ivo’s amazed delight. Sex with George is a revelation. The sexual scenes are hot without being ridiculous. Not too long, not too purple, while it’s evident they’re having fun and enjoying themselves. Each is attentive to the needs and pleasure of the other. The sizzle between them sparks off the page.

George is the kind of woman a lot of other women probably hate. She’s got men hanging off the chandeliers of her townhouse. Oh, not for any kinky sex but merely because so many of them show up at her place there’s almost no room to put them all. She can joke with them, hunt with them, ride to hounds with them, shoot as well as they do yet is still feminine. Yet I noticed a line where she realizes she’s ignored the women of the ton and needs to make her house calls. One must keep in the good graces of the leading ladies or risk their censure. George is strong but not strident. She does things most women wouldn’t do (even -gasp – smoking) yet none seem beyond the capacity for a woman unlike broadsword wielding medieval women.

Ivo is a bit brooding and emo but I kind of liked seeing a woman truly take charge, be the slightly stronger one. I’m not sure I could believe George falling for a man who ended up beating his chest and bellowing commands, demanding she assume a subservient role – be more like a normal woman. I remember he even despairs of this after the resolution of the villain stuff when he thinks how much easier it would be if he’d fallen for a “normal” woman, after which he seems to shrug his shoulders and accept that he hasn’t. He talks about convincing her that she’s “his,” and does toss around a few terms of ownership but mainly to himself and by book’s end, I think he’s accepted that she’s going to either agree to marry him as an equal or it isn’t going to happen.

Now for a little sand in the Vaseline. I thought through a lot of the book – yes, they’re in lust but are they falling in love? Ivo has possessive feelings, is afraid for her and mad at attempts on her life but …..I don’t know if I’m convinced beyond you telling me they’re in love. Does Ivo really come to appreciate the woman George is? I think he does finally realize he can’t boss her around or issue orders and is smart enough not to forbid her to see her male friends. But I’d like to have been just a teensy bit more sure that he hasn’t merely accepted that she isn’t going to change.

Okay back to the happy thoughts. George’s mastiff is great – you’ve got the guarding instinct, size, drool, his aging in the epilogue. Unfortunately they don’t live to be very old.

The book has a great period feel as seen in the clothes. Busks, vivid colors for men, embroidery and passementerie on men’s clothes as well as women’s, wigs, hoops, George’s pocket. And do I remember men’s red healed shoes or is that from another book? I loved it all.

The realization of status in this world – in horses made available at inns, George’s thoughts on the society invitations Ivo has received, love of wit, renting Vauxhall.

I loved, loved, loved the scenes at Astleys and the performance of Hamlet! What a riot. I also loved the attention Glendower pays to his tenants and staff. Noblesse oblige. I like the way George handles the issues with the children. Very maturely but with sensitivity to their feelings.

Sorry, sand time again. I did wonder if any mention would be made by George of the fate of poor Maeve. For a while it seemed like the loss of her maid was going to be a “ain’t no big thing” thing. The villain is singularly inept. I knew his appearances weren’t supposed to be comedic but they did take on an evil Snidely Whiplash tone. The villain and dealing with the villain stuff dragged ending of the book down slightly.

I hesitate to mention this as you supplied me with a doc.file but there were lots of typos. Nice for niece, heard for herd, dropped letters that change words. I hope these were corrected in print copy.

As for the lack of dialogue – yes I noticed it but mainly because I’d read the other reviews which mentioned it. It didn’t bother me but it might appear to some to slow down the action of the story. I actually liked it as we the readers do get into their heads and get to know everything they’re feeling. It gave me the feeling that I was almost in their shoes.

Long time readers here might be aware that epilogues are things I usually treat with disdain. It was therefore with delight that I saw there is actually a reason for this epilogue – the reunion with the Marquess – and it’s not sappy! And the characters haven’t changed from what was shown through the body of the book. Wow. Just wow. It leaves me happy. B

~Jayne

This book can be purchased in mass market from Amazon or Powells or ebook format.