A horse race in trousers on Rotten Row. Visiting a gaming hall in a dress that would make her mother faint. Sneaking an invitation to a masquerade ball attended by only the wickedest, most debauched members of society…
None of these things are scaring off bookish but strong-willed Amelia Bishop’s stuffy, egotistical fiancé.
The only thing left is to entice childhood friend Nicholas Wakefield into a truly engagement-ending scandal. The Wakefields are the height of propriety, and Nicholas’s parents have made it clear a wife from the neighboring Bishop family would be unacceptable…
But Nicholas would give up his family and his fortune if Amelia would ever see him as more than just a childhood friend. He’ll go along with her scheme, even if it means ruining them both, because he’s got a plan that will change her mind about him being merely the boy next door.
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The Importance of Being Scandalous
Nicholas Wakefield has been summoned home from his two year sojourn where he studied art, pleasure, and generally enjoyed himself. As the second son of a marquess, Nick is not the heir, and is surprised to learn that his parents require him to begin learning to administer the country estate. The heir, Philip, is in town and is currently heavily involved in politics. Nick finds out that his father has begun to have memory loss, and he is getting worse. Nick is actually glad to help and to have a purpose, and truth be told, he’s glad to be home. Though he enjoyed every bit of his journey, Nick has loved Mia, the girl next door, since he was nine years old. He wrote letters to her every day, which he never sent, but now he’s ready to declare himself. Only – one of the first things he learns is that Mia is engaged.
Amelia (Mia) Bailey and her family are considered social outcasts, so when she receives a marriage proposal from a respected earl, she accepts in order to uplift her family’s reputation. Her fanatical mother and her sister, Julia, strongly encourage the match. Besides, she gave up on love years ago when her crush, Nick, was attracted to a young dairy maid, breaking her heart. She’s happy to see Nick when he comes to call, because their twelve year friendship is solid. Though Nick is heartbroken at losing Mia before he could even propose, he vows to continue to be her friend.
Mia begins to discover that she feels “tingly” things while with Nick that she doesn’t feel with her fiancé, Embry. Though she intends to carry on with her engagement, it soon becomes apparent that Embry is not the gentleman she thought him to be. He has no intention of letting Mia slip away, and he’s prepared to go to drastic lengths to keep her. Mia is also under extreme pressure from her mother, who is desperate to re-enter society at any cost. Even her sister, Julia, who doesn’t take part in society due to an injury, urges her to go through with the marriage. She realizes that she and Nick love each other, but there may not be a way for them to be together.
THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING SCANDALOUS is a combination of a sweet romance and a madcap adventure. I never grasped why Nick’s mother despised her neighbors so much – it seemed that her disdain went so much deeper than their inferior social status. It also seemed that the ostracizing of the Bailey family was extreme just because they weren’t “old money” and had a daughter with an infirmity. Mia’s mother went over the top in her desire to get back into society, and I never felt that it was fully explained. Still, Nick’s steadfastness and dedication are truly romantic, and once Mia determined not to marry Embry, their encounters sent the steam billowing. There is also plenty of humor, drama, scheming, scandal, and some memorable secondary characters, which made for a very enjoyable and different read. I am looking forward to the upcoming second book, as I can’t wait to see how author Kimberly Bell matches the seemingly unlikely pair of Julia and Jasper, Nick’s very dissolute friend.
Rose, this is another new-to-me author that perhaps I need to check out.