(Ames here. I'm too shy to email people out of the blue and ask for a buddy review. So hit me up! I don't bite. Unless you want me too. hehe)
In the meantime, today's review is Almost a Scandal by Elizabeth Essex. This book came to my attention when I was looking for new releases for the New Releases post :) It also caught Ames' eye and voila, a buddy review. I love it when it happens! Hope you enjoy!
Almost a Scandal by Elizabeth Essex
published by St. Martin's in July 2012
Bold, brazen, and beautiful, the Reckless Brides refuse to play by society’s rules of courtship. But—come hell or high water—they always get their man..Genre: Historical Romance
For generations, the Kents have served proudly with the British Royal Navy. So when her younger brother refuses to report for duty, Sally Kent slips into a uniform and takes his place—at least until he comes to his senses. Boldly climbing aboard the Audacious, Sally is as able-bodied as any sailor there. But one man is making her feel tantalizingly aware of the full-bodied woman beneath her navy blues...
Dedicated to his ship, sworn to his duty—and distractingly gorgeous—Lieutenant David Colyear sees through Sally’s charade, and he’s furious. But he must admit she’s the best midshipman on board—and a woman who tempts him like no other. With his own secrets to hide and his career at stake, Col agrees to keep her on. But can the passion they hide survive the perils of a battle at sea? Soon, their love and devotion will be put to the test...
Series: The Reckless Brides, Book #1
The Story: Sally Kent's father and older brothers are all serving the British Royal Navy. As such, nobody understands Richard's, the youngest Kent, desire to become a man of God... And on the eve of his enrollment as a midshipman, Richard runs away. To preserve the family reputation, Sally decides to disguise herself as Richard and takes his place aboard the Audacious. However, family pride is an excuse... Having grown up on a ship and raised in a family of such tradition, Sally yearns for the sea and life on a ship. She also knows that she'll be better at it than Richard too. The only obstacle to her charade is Lieutenant David Colyear, her brother's best friend who has actually spent time at Sally's home and thus, has met her. And indeed, it doesn't take Colyear much time to recognize Sally, who used to tag along in her brothers' adventures - but will he rat her out or keep her secret?
Nath: So Ames, did you enjoy Almost a Scandal? I hope so because I sure did! :)
Ames: You know I did too! It has a cross-dressing heroine and it takes place at sea. Those are two things I absolutely love in my historicals. I don’t know why I enjoy naval adventures so much, but something about that setting really floats my boat. haha
Nath: LOL, nice wordplay! And I know you enjoyed it :) I’m really happy too because as soon as I read the blurb, I thought of you... Perhaps because the setting is quite similar to Sea Change by Darlene Marshall which you absolutely adored :)
As for me, I admit I was surprised at how much I enjoyed Almost a Scandal. I like cross-dressing historicals and it was definitively the key element of the book and Ms Essex sure pulled it off. I liked how Sally had an affinity with the sea, how she loved it and had she been a man, she would have gone into the Navy, just like her father and three older brothers. She has also grown up on a ship and helped her brothers study for the lieutenant examination. With all this, I really believed that Sally could pass as a man and as a midshipman and so the book worked for me :)
Ames: Yes, I loved that aspect of Sally’s character. She was ideally suited to life at sea except for the fact that she was born female. I like how she became a protector to the other young midshipmen on board as well. She wasn’t someone to take something lying down - her character was very much a go-getter. Sometimes that can be unappealing, especially if she’s too goody two-shoes, but Sally was just the right amount of gumption and fortitude.
Nath: Oh yeah, I agree with everything you’re saying Ames :) I thought it was cute that she took the younger boys under her wing, a mix of maternal and older sister instincts. Aside from her guts, you know what else I liked? That she wasn’t a whimpering, simpering, virginal missus. She grew up with brothers, held her own against them, was included in their antics and as a result, not only was she knowledgeable with boats and the navy, but she knew about life and men and that means sex. I really liked that she wasn’t offended when she first stepped on the ship and witnessed the debauchery and instead, joked about it! :) That was definitively refreshing LOL.
As for the romance, I enjoyed it too. I thought the prior connection with the hero was a good idea - it made all the subsequent events more plausible and believable :) And Sally and Colyear made a good couple.
Ames: Yes! I love that she was the younger sister to his friends and actually knew Sally from before. It gives them history. Another thing that made them work so well for me was their partnership. Sally could keep up mentally and could actually predict some of the things he’d need on board. She was a true asset and did not put anyone in jeopardy with her presence.
Now what did you think of Colyear? I liked his character. But I felt that he was somewhat overshadowed by how awesome Sally was. LOL
Nath: The fact the two were equals and matched so well definitively made the romance :) As for Colyear, I like the man he was. I mean, what’s not to like? Fair, upstanding, competent and charismatic :P However, as you said, he was overshadowed by Sally and as a result, I find he wasn’t that well-developed. Although in the scope of things, I didn’t really mind because Almost a Scandal was really Sally’s story. And it was a really good story. I have to say that mid-way through the book, I got a bit confused in the action, especially the part when Sally and Colyear sneaked on the island. However, that really is my only complaint in the book. I liked the way Ms Essex spinned the story around and Sally’s revelation that she is a woman. I also liked we got to see the aftermath when Sally returns home.
Ames: I agree with you about Col. He was a good character, a good man for Sally, and I liked his connection to her family. But it was about Sally. My only complaint about him (and thus the writing) was the overuse of the phrase “damn her eyes” or “damn her fine eyes.” At first it was cute and I liked that he said it, but then it was used too much and even another character used it at one point. That was too much.
I liked the action bit that had to happen for Sally and Col to come together without an audience. It was necessary and it showcased how well they really work together.
I also liked that we saw the aftermath of Sally’s adventure and her going home. I was a bit annoyed at how she reacted to Col’s return though. I wished she’d stood up for herself a bit there.
Nath: It’s funny that you picked up on Col’s “damn her eyes” because I didn’t. Instead, I picked up on Sally’s phrase - which I can't remember at the moment ^_^; But the result is the same, the repetition got tedious and annoying.
Oh and you’re right. The action involving Sally and Col allowed them to come together without an audience. Gotta say, it was a clever move on Ms Essex’ part and much more believable than if they had been able to sneak somewhere on the boat. As you said, it was necessary and well executed.
I liked the reunion with Sally’s family. LOL, so funny how her brothers were all: “It’s not much of an injury.” Men, LOL. The ending with her younger brother was interesting. I liked that it was not kiss and hugs and we forget everything. Instead, both were still a bit angry at each other and they still didn’t see eye to eye; however, family prevailed :)
And what do you mean by wanting her to stand up for herself?
Ames: I found her very passive when she went home. I didn’t like that.
Nath: Oh okay, I know what you mean now :) I agree with you, she was kind of passive, but at the same time, it made sense. She’s come back from a life that she loved, surrounded with people, to an empty house... with a scar on her face. I think what hit the hardest for her is that she was home alone, none of her family was there. This makes it more real. It would have been weird for her to come home and be all happy and cheerful. And what matters in the end is that she stood up again and on her own when she was ready and not because Colyear showed up :)
All in all, I really enjoyed Almost a Scandal. I’m giving it a B+ :) I can’t wait to read William’s story, A Breath of Scandal, which comes out in December! I hope Sally and Colyear make an appearance!!
Ames: I enjoyed Almost a Scandal as well. It was a solid read with a strong heroine and it was set at sea. Win win. I’m giving this a B.