"Sexy, Confident, and Exciting"
Reviewed by Jennifer Barnhart
Posted September 13, 2012
When Sally Kent's younger brother fails to report for his assignment with the British Royal Navy, she does the only thing she can to save her family's honor and good name. She slips on his uniform and boards the Audacious in his place. What she hasn't counted on is Lieutenant David Colyear, family friend, and someone who will recognize her as Sally. Despite her skill as a midshipman, Col sees through Sally's disguise but he can't bring himself to send home or reveal her secret. Now all he needs to do is protect her from the Spanish, the French, the British navy, and himself.
ALMOST A SCANDAL is the first book in the Reckless Brides Novels and I can't wait to see how this series continues. Sally and Col drive this story through their remarkable personalities and romance. Both are extremely strong-willed characters but there is never a power-struggle that some people mistakenly use to create romantic tension. They're confident enough in their own right that they do not need to prove it. That confidence is truly sexy and it elicits a trust that can only be developed through equality and respect.
The setting was wonderfully drawn. I know next to nothing about ships in this century or the last, but everything was explained with clarity and concise details so it didn't drag the pacing of the story down. Essex brought not only the environment of an 1800's naval vessel to life but the joys and excitement of the ocean to life without forgetting to add in realistic details of being a single female in a male dominated world. The male camaraderie which is so often lacking in historical romance novels adds to this book and it increases the tension for Sally and Col.
Sally is a wonderful character and one that many will identify with. Her role in life doesn't allow her to be the person she knows she is. That's still relevant in today's society as we all struggle to find where we fit. Sally struggles to live up to the expectations of her family and of herself, but it isn't until she sneaks aboard the Audacious does she become true to herself.
Elizabeth Essex has created a fascinating world peopled with fascinating characters. I didn't want this story to end and with the promise of more books in this series, it doesn't have to. ALMOST A SCANDAL is a joy to read.
A LADY IN DISGUISE
For generations, the Kents have served the Royal Navy
proudly. So when her younger brother refuses to report for
duty, Sally Kent slips into a uniform and takes his
place—at least until he comes to his senses. Boldly
climbing aboard HMS Audacious, Sally is as able–bodied
as any sailor there. But one man is making her feel
tantalizingly aware of the full–bodied woman beneath
her navy blues...
A MAN OVERBOARD
Dedicated to his ship, sworn to his duty—and
distractingly gorgeousâ€šLieutenant David Colyear sees through
Sally's charade, and he's furious. But he must admit she's
the best midshipman on board—and a woman who tempts
him like no other. With his own secrets to hide, and his
career at stake, Col agrees to keep her on. But can the
passion they hide survive the perils of battle at sea? Soon,
their love and devotion will be put to the test..."
It wasn't the first time Sally Kent had donned a worn,
hand–me–down uniform from one of her brothers'
sea chests, but it was the first time it had felt so
completely, perfectly right. She had always been tall and
spare, strong for a girl, but dressed in the uniform of His
Majesty's Royal Navy, she felt more than strong. She felt
Powerful enough to ignore the voice of conscience
thundering in her ear, telling her she needed to stay
quietly on land and learn to be a young lady. Powerful
enough to face down the potential scandal. Powerful enough
to abandon her younger brother to his chosen fate.
Because her brother Richard had rejected all claims to
duty and honor. He had forsaken his family. He wasn't
That morning, the very morning he was to have worn his
uniform and boarded His Majesty's Ship Audacious with all
the other candidates for midshipmen, he had disappeared,
gone as if he had been swallowed whole by the heavy,
Richard had left her, quite literally, holding his bag.
And she was going to use it. Sally closed her mind to
the insistent whispering of her conscience, wrapped her
breasts in cotton strapping, and put on every single piece
of that uniform, from the faded blue midshipman's coat and
white breeches, down to the black buckled shoes. She
ignored the uneven pounding of her heart, and took a
scissors to her hair. She jammed the dark beaver hat low
over her eyes, clattered down the narrow stairs and out of
the inn. She swallowed the sharp edges of her fear, crossed
the wet cobbles, and took her brother's place in the rain at
the sally port on Portsmouth's rain–drenched quay.
A lieutenant glared at her from under the dripping brim
of his cocked hat. An irate lieutenant, his eyes glittering
like a flash of black powder. He stood in the stern of a
ship's boat, impervious to the filthy weather and the rise
and fall of the vessel tossing fitfully beneath him. The
sharp vertical lines of the scowl between his dark brows
could have scraped barnacles off a hull, but his voice was
incongruously smooth. "This is His Majesty's Royal Navy,
Kent. Not a damned church fete. We're not going to issue
you a bloody invitation."
Sally pushed her voice lower. "Aye, sir," she
answered. "I'm Richard Kent."
"I know," he rumbled, unimpressed by her declaration.
"Now get in the bloody boat."
Sally jerked her chin into her collar to lower her face,
and hide beneath the dark brim of her hat. She would have
known that deep, laconic voice anywhere, even over the
pounding din of the rain.
David St. Vincent Colyear.
But would he know her?
He had been eighteen years old and on the verge of
taking his lieutenant's exam the last time she had seen him,
the summer her brother Matthew had brought him home to
Falmouth. Col, they had called him. Six years ago, he had
been long and lean, but by God, clad in the endless fall of
his gray sea cloak, he was a leviathan now. A great oaken
mast of a man looming up from the waist of the small boat.
A man grown. A man whose jaw looked as sharp as an axe
blade and whose piercing eyes, the color of green chalcedony
stone, were just as hard and impenetrable.
"Well, Kent?" Col's voice was low and dangerously
soft—disconcerting in such a hard–looking man.
"What's it to be?"
There was no question. There hadn't been any question
since the very moment she had made her decision to tie the
black silk stock around her neck and shrug herself into the
loose folds of the blue coat.
She wasn't going to waste another moment living quietly
and learning to act like a young lady. She wasn't going to
be left ashore like some half–pay junior officer.
She was going to act.
Sally looked beyond Col, to the ship riding low at
anchor some half a mile beyond. His Majesty's Ship
Audacious, her thirty–six cannon hidden behind the
closed gun–ports, called to Sally, even in the dirty
weather of Portsmouth Harbor. She was a perfectly balanced
frigate of war, trim, elegant, and sleek, her masts and
spars soaring high above the deck—a vision of leashed,
Unlike Richard, Sally would give anything to experience
Here was her chance. And why shouldn't she take
"Aye, sir. I'll come directly.""
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