Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Review: Whisper of Scandal by Nicola Cornick

One whisper of scandal and a reputation dies…
Lady Joanna Ware is the darling of the Ton, a society hostess who has put behind her the misery of her unhappy marriage to a philanderer. Until her late husband bequeaths to her joint care of his illegitimate child…

Alexander, Lord Grant, is an explorer lauded as a hero and adventurer. He scorns the Ton and wants no family ties. Until his best friend bequeaths to him joint care of his illegitimate child…

Joanna and Alex disagree from the moment they first meet, so how are they ever to stay civil long enough to join forces and rescue the orphaned baby girl? Saving Nina takes them from the celebrity salons and balls of Regency London to the frozen wastes of the North Pole and tests both of them - and their emotions - to the very limit. For what will happen when their bitter hostility turns to an equally passionate desire?

Beware of scandalous women...

At first glance, Whisper of Scandal is a classic he said/she said book.  The she in question is Lady Joanna Ware; the he, her deceased husband, Lord David Ware, Alexander's best friend.  Alex believes everything David ever said about his marriage and almost nothing Joanna says in defense or rebuttal.  So Joanna leaves him to his incorrect and biased opinions.  She's content to never see him again until David manages to toss them together via a guardianship for his illegitimate daughter.  Only then does Alex begin to see David -- and Joanna -- in a new light.

Desperate for a child, even an illegitimate one, Joanna spares no expense in seeking to retrieve the girl from her homeland.  Joanna's progress is hampered, naturally, by Alex, who believes she's not fit to take such a voyage on her own. Following a run-in with her late husband's heir, Joanna proposes she and Alex marry, an action that would help both of them equally (she would be given the protection of Alex's name, and he could count on her to provide an adequate home environment for his underage cousin, Chessie, and perhaps an heir).  When they do marry, I immediately thought of Alex's earlier statement to his cousin Devlin:

I would make the devil of a husband.

I knew then that Alex and Joanna would find their way into one another's hearts. 

The truths that confront them on their journey to the North Pole do test their new marriage and their unconfessed love, and their respective paths toward this love, particularly Joanna's, are so heartbreaking.  A lovely, lovely historical romance not to be missed. 

(Special thanks to NetGalley for providing me with an ARC of Whisper of Scandal.)

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