REVIEW: Compromised into a Scandalous Marriage by Lydia San Andres
Escape to the Caribbean in this tension-filled compromised-into-marriage story!
When heiress Paulina Despradel is banished from the family quinta in a storm, she seeks shelter with her dashing new neighbor, Sebastian Linares. Their attraction may be as electrifying as the lightning outside, but the night they spend together is totally innocent. Barely more than strangers, they must now marry. But left alone with their simmering chemistry, can they build a true union from the ashes of scandal?
Dear Ms. San Andres,
I just had to request this book after seeing the (lovely) cover and realizing that instead of the usual Regency or Highlander laird plot this book would take readers to the early 19th century Caribbean. There are a lot of tropes used here but then it’s not what tropes are used but what is done with them, right? I enjoyed the well detailed unusual setting but have to be honest and admit that things got a bit slow and predictable.
Paulina Despradel had been living with her controlling brother since the deaths of their parents when she was young. In addition to controlling, Antonio is a physically and emotionally abusive twat. Somehow though, Paulina still hasn’t figured out that her slime of a brother will stoop to anything to get whatever he wants. She gets another lesson in this when after her birthday party, during which she merely chatted (in full view of all the other guests) with their neighbor Sebastian Lineres, Antonio accuses her of slutty behavior and tosses her out into a raging rainstorm. With nowhere else to go, she heads to Sebastian’s house where they are (somewhat conveniently) found the next morning.
Sebastian tries to hold out against Antonio’s demands before, after being chained to the wall in a filthy cell for three days, finally succumbing to Antonio’s threats of letting Paulina be gang raped (yes) if Sebastian doesn’t agree to marry her. Of course Sebastian has been taken advantage of in the past so his initial view is that Paulina was in on the scam with her brother. Paulina’s dreams of love and a wedding have been shattered by her brother but then he’s treated her like dirt for years.
As Sebastian vows to ignore her and quickly get an annulment, Paulina decides to finally start standing up for herself. Their attempts to avoid each other are pointless as there are plenty of opportunities to see each other stepping out of a bath or shirtless. Friends and family also encourage a romantic relationship. Paulina sees what a generous and fair minded man Sebastian is to his workers and staff while Sebastian sees how hard Paulina works to decorate his home. Soon Sebastian is opening the coffers for Paulina to do things she was denied by her dastardly brother such as pick out her own gowns. But twat bastard brother is still lurking in the background and, Sebastian fears, up to more “no good.”
As I said, the setting is great and shown well with numerous details about life in the town of San Pedro as well as living on a sugar plantation undergoing modernization. NOTE – Paulina’s parents never used enslaved labor and since he’s bought the mill, Sebastian is willing to spend the money to install labor saving devices and focus on safety that the previous dastardly owner (no guesses as to who that was) ignored thus causing some employee deaths. Later on Sebastian and Paulina travel to town often but I was puzzled that the set up for their marriage – and the way that rat bastard brother treated Sebastian – appears to slip everyone’s minds from then on.
After a third of the book with Sebastian and Paulina making assumptions while also simultaneously simmering with banked emotions about each other, the truth begins to filter through. She’s no scamming flirt! He’s not a glowering jerk! What, she’s never been given the chance to choose what she wants to wear? Well let’s set up an appointment with the town’s best dressmaker for a whole new wardrobe. Why has he never finished furnishing his house or done anything nice for himself? Oh because he’s so worried about getting the mill profitable and making sure the workers will be paid. She’ll immediately propose that he set up a trust fund for the workers to take that worry off his mind.
Things moved along pretty much as I thought they would. Evil Villain Brother remained a one note caricature. Heroic and endlessly self sacrificing hero continued to work himself tirelessly to see to the needs of others. Lovely heroine pleaded with the hero to not work so hard and to give them a chance at a relationship. She did also grow in independence and ability to voice her needs and wants so yay there. There’s a gruesome end for the rat bastard after which a martyr moment is soon quashed and all is HEA. If you want to read a non-European historical novel with BIPOC characters, here you go but unfortunately don’t expect much in the way of a different basic plot or tropes. C+