A scandalous journey…

Glassmaker’s daughter Thea Markham is devastated when her brother Daniel goes missing. Then a mysterious lord turns up asking questions about Daniel and offers to find him. Unsure she can trust the handsome peer, Thea dresses up as a boy and follows him!

Lord Vernon Beauchamp feels his life lacks direction. Meeting Thea gives him a renewed purpose. And when they are thrown together on their scandalous adventure, friendship soon gives way to desire…

My View

This is book two in “The Beauchamp Betrothals” the new series by the talented Ms Preston and it is a doozy this time we are getting to know the roguish and charming Vernon, younger brother to Leo Beauchamp from book one. Preston has come out with a real winner with this one and it has definitely become my favourite book out of her work.

Dorothea or Thea (isn’t that a gorgeous name?) Markham’s brother Daniel has gone missing, it isn’t like her brother to just do a bunk without telling her. They have been inseparable since their father had his stroke, they have had to single-handedly run the family glass-making business. Thea has this suspicion that something must have happened to him other-wise he would have come back, and she is desperate to find him but there is a problem she doesn’t want word to get back to her parents about Daniel’s disappearance, her father isn’t well enough and her mother still hasn’t forgiven her for what happened all those years ago that resulted in her father’s stroke.

So how on earth does she find her brother? Right on cue, the answer to her problem turn’s up or should that be adding extra problems!

He was a handsome aristocrat, experienced in the art of flirtation and accustomed to having his own way…well, he would soon find she was too shrewd to allow weasel words and admiring glances to fool her….

Vernon’s brother the Duke received a letter from Daniel Markham which was full of intrigue and not a lot else, and it also mentioned that him and the Beauchamp’s cousin are embroiled in something to find out what the hell is going on Vernon sets out to confront the young buck. So, he sets out to the Markham’s cottage only to find that on arriving he finds only Markham’s insanely intelligent and beautiful sister Thea.

Vernon has never met anyone – especially as young woman to be as plucky and down-right irritating as Thea, she gets under his skin with just a scathing look she tells him in no uncertain terms that she hates him and his kind. He is mesmerized by her intelligence and her vulnerability even as she is cutting him with an icy stare that could fell a forest.

He finds that Thea is there running things single-handedly the business, her father’s ill health and her mother – well she really doesn’t like Thea, she blames her daughter for everything that has happened. Vernon see’s for himself how Thea’s cold fish of a mother treat’s her daughter he see’s how she resents Thea in just one glance. He is instantly drawn to her, he want’s to help this little spitfire and he agrees to look for her brother for her.

She put him in mind of a cornered kitten, fur fluffed up and claws out, ready for a fight.
‘There is no need to stand every time I do,’ she said, placing her fists on the desk and leaning on them. ‘I am not one of your fine ladies, ready to take affront at imagined slights.’
‘Maybe you are not,’ Vernon said, quashing down the laugh that tickled his throat. That really would infuriate her. ‘But I, you see, am a gentleman. And I therefore stand when a lady does. Whether she considers herself a lady or no. And taking affront, I quite see that particular emotion is alien to your sunny nature.’

Vernon is an interesting man and, yes we have met him before in the previous book and he had always come across as a rake, but I see so much more to him that. You see that his behaviour is just a cover, a mask so to speak to hide his unsettled mind. Being the so-called “spare to the heir” he feels like no one needs him and he wants to be useful and he wants to be able to do something other than bed hop and be the side kick for his powerful brother. He wants to prove that he is his own man who I don’t think he has anything to prove you see instantly that he is a good man.

I really like Vernon he such an interesting man, he has so many layer’s and the more you strip away one layer another more surprising one comes out into the open. What Preston has done with him is a stroke of pure genius, pairing this vulnerable, if slightly naive to the real world, aristocrat with an aristocrat-hating, working class normal lass is just brilliance and it also mean that you get a lot of fun with them along the way.

She needed reassurance that this man was precisely what he appeared to be: a charming, cultured gentleman. She recalled her fanciful notion that she had glimpsed a wolf beneath his surface: a wolf that watched and waited. What if he had a hidden agenda?

After being burnt by his people Thea wants nothing to do with his kind, she sees them as nothing but a useless waste of space. People who wouldn’t know the concept of good honest, hard work if it danced naked in front of them, and I can relate to her. Thea is cut from the same cloth as so many in the present day and I absolutely believe that like myself and thousands of other working-class women we can all relate and understand Thea in a way that you can’t an aristocratic.

She is a breath of fresh air she is pure and principled and she knows the value of a day’s good honest toil, the bitter sniping that she constantly does at him is so very funny and his reaction to her is of sometimes shock and bemusement. She is not one to think first, she says what’s on her mind and damn the consequences. So, when Vernon tells her that yes, he will help her look for her brother she is jumping for joy and can’t wait to get going, until he informs her that she is not going too. He has said no and she must stay at home while the men do the job.

Well obviously, she is fuming that this arrogant aristocrat dare tell her what she can and can’t do, she is not letting this man go without her so she cuts her hair, dresses like a boy and follows. That is where the fun really starts as these two get tangled in everything from attempted highway robbery to the tortures of having to share a room under the disguise as uncle and nephew.

‘I am not one of your fine ladies who needs mollycoddling. I have dealt with hard reality and survived. Please do not patronise me. Do me the courtesy of dealing with me as an intelligent adult, not a child.’ He sighed.

I hugely enjoyed the last book with Vernon’s brother Leo, but I think The Scandal of Miss Markham outshines its predecessor. I have always liked stories where the heroes/heroines are normal people, regular, run of the mill people who are trying to forge out a life of themselves, and this is absolutely spot on. I think Preston has done a very clever thing at putting two completely different people together, they are from different worlds and so watching the way they interact with one another is very lovely.

The way they show each other their way of life, Thea shows him her way of life in the working class and Vernon shows her his glitzy and privileged world. It is an intelligent, thoughtful and quite poignant piece of writing.

This is sexually charged smooth and enticing, the writing is beyond flawless but it’s the characters that bring this to life they are two beautifully written people who both need love and it is a pure joy to read and I can’t wait to see where Preston is going to take this series.

This was an ARC copy from the author in return for an honest review.

Scandal and Miss Markham is released from 1st October and can be pre-ordered at Amazon.

 

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