"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 gorgeous‚Lieutenant 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.
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 coming back.
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, obliterating rain.
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. Useless.
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, lethal power.
Unlike Richard, Sally would give anything to experience that power.
Here was her chance. And why shouldn't she take Richard's place?
"Aye, sir. I'll come directly.""
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