Title: Scandalous Ever After
Series: Romance of the Turf #2
Author: Theresa Romain
Pub Date: July 4, 2017
Does love really heal all wounds?
After being widowed by a steeplechase accident in Ireland, Lady Kate Whelan abandons the turf. But once her mourning is complete, her late husband’s debts drive her to seek help in Newmarket amidst the whirl of a race meet. There she encounters antiquities expert Evan Rhys, her late husband’s roguish friend—whom she hasn’t seen since the day of his lordship’s mysterious death.
Now that fate has reunited them, Evan seizes the chance to win over the woman he’s always loved. But once back within the old stone walls of Whelan House, long-held secrets come to light that shake up everything Kate thought she knew about her marriage. Now she wonders who she can trust with her heart—and Evan must decide between love and a truth that will separate him from all his heart desires.
About the Author: Historical romance author THERESA ROMAIN pursued an impractical education that allowed her to read everything she could get her hands on. She then worked for universities and libraries, where she got to read even more. Eventually she started writing, too. She lives with her family in Wichita, Kansas.
Two of Theresa’s favorite summer activities:
If I were creating the sort of profile I admire, I’d tell you that my favorite summer activities include splashing in the ocean, or camping in the backyard after having a barbecue. But the truth is that I’m hundreds of miles from the nearest beach, and my favorite thing to do there was always to make a giant dolphin out of sand. And I can’t bear to be outside in 100+ heat, especially when the mosquitoes are biting.
However, there are so many lovely little things about summer that I do enjoy. Specifically…
1. Checking on the vegetables that my daughter and I planted as seeds in the spring. Just as the weather starts to get really hot, the tomatoes and green beans are ripe and ready for picking. There’s something so satisfying about growing the veggies we eat with dinner that night.
2. Using the snow cone machine (really just a glorified ice grinder) to make frozen treats in our own home. Sure, we could make them any time of year, but summer just seems right for shaved ice with syrup on it. Once, Little Miss R and I brought a big bowl of tangerine snow cone to Mr. R while he was working out in the backyard on a hot afternoon. “That looks like heaven,” he said. Yup. Snow cones are pretty magical.
In SCANDALOUS EVER AFTER, there are no frozen treats or backyard campfires—but there *is* a sea, and Lady Kate Whelan and Evan Rhys find themselves on a road trip of a lifetime. Between ferries and floods, treats and horses and races, sickness and health and more than one scandalous interlude, these two old friends will find a love they never expected—and unearth secrets they never dreamed of. I hope you’ll enjoy this romantic summer read!
Read an Excerpt:
“How have you been?” His eyes dark as chocolate, he watched her with the same careful scrutiny he’d given to his magic lantern slides as he packed them away.
She pulled another pin free, then another, feeling more bare with each one. “I’m fine too.” Pulling free her blossom-trimmed hat, she jabbed the hatpins through the plaited-straw brim.
She was fine—or as fine as she’d been for years and years of her marriage. Years of financial strain and dawning awareness of her husband’s infidelity. But over those same years, she had become skilled at appearing fine. And for Con, by God, there was nothing more important than making a good appearance.
“Your words aren’t rationed, you know.” Evan relaxed against the squabs of rust-colored velvet, sliding one boot forward. “You can use more than three when you reply to me. More than four, even, if you have something of particular significance to say.”
The familiarity of his banter made her chest tighten. She swallowed, hard, before replying crisply, “You are fortunate that I was judicious with my words rather than being perfectly frank with you.”
“I’m going to regret asking this, but I will all the same. What did you want to say, Madam Frank?”
She lifted her chin. “That you behaved like an utter ass.”
Though she had spoken the words lightly, they took on great weight in the close confines of the carriage. “I will grant that I deserve that.”
“At the very least. Two years of silence. Evan. Didn’t our friendship mean anything to you?”
He held out his wrists. “Slap the manacles on me. Whatever punishment you care to inflict, I will accept it.”
“I could poke you with a hatpin.”
He made a gesture that was not precisely polite. It had the effect of drawing a smile from her before she added, “It’s a fair question, Evan. And I’m sly enough to notice that you didn’t answer it. You could have come back any time after you chose to leave. After you and Con argued on the day he died.”
He snapped upright, drawing his feet in close beneath his seat. Withdrawing into a shell, it seemed. “I couldn’t come back after that.”
“And why not? Not only could you have, you should have. What was I to think when you left Ireland without a word of farewell?”
“What indeed? What did you think?”
“I didn’t know. I still don’t.”
The two chestnuts, Jerome and Hattie, pulled the carriage along with smooth strides. For the distance of one…two…a half dozen of their long steps…Kate was silent. Then she added, “Con wouldn’t tell me what had passed between you, only that you’d argued. He was upset. Terribly upset. So shaken that he should never have ridden out. And—”
“My God.” Evan rubbed a hand over his jaw, the chiseled line of his mouth. “You think it’s my fault that he died.”
Her head snapped back. “Not your fault. It was no one’s fault. His fall in the steeplechase was an accident. Everyone said so, from housemaid to magistrate. The cinch on his saddle split, and…and he fell. Badly.”
“Maybe fault is not the right word. What of blame? Do you blame me?” His dark eyes were steady and fathomless.
She held his gaze. “No. I don’t blame you for that. If I fault you for anything, it is that you called me friend, then and now, but you never showed it when that friendship was tested.”
He made a dry sound, like a laugh gone cold. “You cannot know how I was tested.”
“I cannot, because you never told me. Not a single word. All I know is that you and Con argued, and you left, and that was that. You threw our whole family away like rubbish.”
“There is no such thing as rubbish,” he said quietly. “Only pieces that antiquarians will one day discover and come to understand.”
God. He was so…so Evan. “That,” she replied, “is not adequate. I need more from my life than the hope that someone will try to piece it together hundreds of years from now.”
Through the carriage roof, Kate could hear the occasional cluck or halloo of the coachman. Sir William’s traveling carriage was built on spacious lines, like Chandler Hall and his stables. Every surface was brushed clean and gleaming.
The conveyances in the carriage room of Whelan House’s stables were neat but patched, oiled but aged. A few years ago, there had been many more. A few years ago, everything had been different.
Was it wrong that, despite her crushing debt, she was happier as a widow than as a wife?
Was it wrong that she didn’t mind if it was?
“What has it been like for you?” Evan’s question seamlessly followed the ones she posed herself. “These past two years?”
“Like running down a hill, hoping I can reach safety before a rolling boulder crushes me.”
“That is an alarming analogy.”
“I thought you’d like it,” she said. “Because of the stone. Pretend it’s an ancient rolling boulder.”
He shook his head. “Still alarming, though now the alarm bears historical significance. What has got you running, Kate?”
Evan Rhys and Con Durham (the Irish Earl of Whelan) have been best friends forever. Con is a charming, outgoing, mischief loving rogue, while the quieter Evan joins him in his escapades. Their opposite personality types seem to mesh perfectly, cementing their bond of friendship. Evan is shocked when Con returns from a trip to England with a beautiful young bride. Almost immediately, Evan finds himself falling in love with seventeen year old Kate, something he’s determined to hide.
As the years pass, Kate has joined the circle of friendship, and the trio spends many evenings sharing meals, laughs, conversation, and whisky. Evan is considered a family member, and is godfather to Con and Kate’s two children. Con, however, is a true rogue, and has never given up other women, almost from the start of their marriage. Kate is aware of this, but pretends not to be, and she grows a little more disillusioned every day. When Con’s attentions to one particular woman grown marked, and he plans to support her financially, depriving his wife and children, Evan can’t be silent any longer. He and Con have a violent row, and say things that destroy their lifelong friendship. Evan leaves, vowing not to return, and Con angrily rides out, having a tragic accident that ends his life.
Two years later, Evan is in England, giving a lecture on antiquities and forgeries. During the question and answer session, he hears a voice that he would recognize anywhere. Kate is here. It’s been thirteen years since Evan first saw her, and his love has never died. He could never face her after Con’s death. His guilt caused him to simply disappear from their lives. Now, Kate extends an invitation for Evan to travel with her as she goes to visit her father, and he accepts. Kate displays all the warmth and affection that she feels for Evan, but she’s not shy about taking him to task for abandoning her and his godchildren, who have all missed him terribly.
Their journey gives them plenty of time together and the opportunity to become reacquainted. Kate has become stronger, having to manage the earldom until her young son is old enough to take over. Her late husband’s extravagant spending has left them in a precarious financial situation, which Kate is trying to solve. The relationship she has with Evan is beautiful, and is a genuine liking and friendship. Finally, Kate sees him as a lover, much to Evan’s joy. That happiness is short-lived, however, as Kate is too blind to recognize Evan’s love, and only sees the possibility of an affair.
I fell in love with Evan. He’s such an honorable man, never stepping out of line or making any overtures to Kate when she was married. He hid his unrequited love and was a good friend to both Kate and Con, and a wonderful “uncle” to their children. No one knows that he suffers bouts of depression, because he hides that too. He and Kate are perfect together – their conversations are a delight and often wonderfully funny. Their chemistry is deliciously steamy.
It seems that there may be more to Con’s death than a simple accident, and an injury to Evan while investigating seems to be the catalyst needed to shake Kate out of the self imposed box she walled herself in. I found SCANDALOUS EVER AFTER to be the best book that Theresa Romain has written. It touched my heart and my emotions, and I loved Evan and Kate. Every scene with them together was pure joy to read, and I was so thrilled when Kate finally came to realize that her love for Evan was more than for a friend. Evan was so deserving of Kate’s love, and though his happy ever after was over a decade in coming, it was especially sweet. SCANDALOUS EVER AFTER goes on my favorites list for 2017 and I recommend it most highly.
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