Scandalous Innocent – Juliet Landon
I wasn’t sure what to expect from Scandalous Innocent. As a Mills and Boon book I knew it was going to be romantic, but it had also been touted as a bit saucy too – surprising as it’s in support of The National Trust. The book has The National Trust’s property, Ham House, as one of its settings and is selling it in many of its outlets, as well as more traditional book retailers.
When I started reading, I was impressed right away. Although the first part of the book is set in 1676 and the dialogue felt authentic, it was still easy to read and follow. The narrative also followed a pretty smart pace and made you want to continue reading. The first part of the novel tells the tale of a young woman with no family. Due to the deaths of her family, she’s been left with a great deal of money and has fun spending it. She’s beautiful and independent, and yet has no husband. The one man she ever cared for publicly snubbed her, and she’s never forgiven him.
The second part of the novel deals with Phoebe, a woman also emotionally damaged by a man. She’s a direct descendent of the first lady in the novel. She, her daughter and her household staff live in a property gifted to her by her brother. Phoebe is happy and content in her house, but soon her comfort is spectacularly ruined. Her brother, a drunk, obsessive gambler has frittered away his property, leaving her homeless. The first she hears of it is when the new owner turns up to tell her. It doesn’t help, of course, that she deeply despises the man and has done for some time. Viscount Ransome, however, has different ideas. He would like to make Phoebe his wife, despite all her protestations. It seems Phoebe’s life is about to get very uncomfortable…
Overall, I really enjoyed this book. I was surprised that Ham House didn’t feature in the book more, but really both tales were character led as opposed to location led, so the house itself didn’t play a huge part. The narrative flowed really well, was easy to read and certainly didn’t live up to the stuffy reputation that The National Trust is still trying to shake off. It was beautiful, romantic and quite naughty in places! I definitely wouldn’t call it erotica, but it’s a more risque kind of romance.