I have been reading Nicola Cornick’s Scandalous Women of the Ton’s books 1 (Whisper of Scandal) and 3 (Mistress of Midnight) and I just finished the fifth book. I’ll be writing a review of the fifth book only because of the three books, it is the one I enjoyed the most.
The Scandalous Women of the Ton focuses mostly around the sisters and friends of the Farren sisters who each became quite mired in scandal. Desired focuses on the story of Tess Darent, the second sister, who is considered to be the most notorious of the three and is described as “much married” because she had been married three times already.
Plot (from Goodreads):
Her wicked ways were the talk of the ton
Teresa, Dowager Marchioness of Darent, is rumored to have exhausted her four deceased husbands with her insatiable needs. So it's no surprise that every rake in the ton wants to bed her. If they only knew…through clever marriages to men who would ask nothing of her physical self, Tessa has remained rather innocent in the ways of the bedroom. But now she's on the verge of losing everything and wants to take care of the stepson she's grown to adore. Enter Captain Owen Purchase. The handsome American adventurer has come into the title of Viscount Rothbury. And the rumors surrounding his injuries at sea suggest that he could fit Tessa's requirements. But little does Tessa realize that the gossipmongers are wrong. She just might lose her heart, and her desires, to the most unlikely of men….
I actually thought that Tess was quite flighty as she was portrayed in the previous Scandalous books, but here readers get to know her better and realize that she is so much more than that. I like that she is so complex a character. For example, she is quite active in some political causes and she is what they call a ‘bluestocking’. However, she hides under a façade and mistaken assumptions about her that hides her tender heart and real innocence.
I like that Desired disproves any negative notions about her because she does deserve to be quite lauded, actually. I think that despite everything, she seems to be a little lost. Of the three sisters, she is perhaps my favorite because she has several admirable qualities such as her loyalty and her strength. Plus, she is so full of love for her family that she is willing to sacrifice her own happiness. While this is also evident of Joanna (from book 1), this is much more portrayed and evidenced by Tess.
I’m also glad that Captain Owen Purchase – Viscount Rothbury - had his own story. He seemed to be a nice sort of chap and I wouldn’t mind being saved by him, if he did exist! I like his characterization as a real gentleman and I liked the fact that unlike several other novels, his courtship of Tess did not involve complete seduction. He waited until marriage and even then, he reined himself in and adjusted his desires to accommodate Tess’ fears.
Another thing I liked about this story is that the plot was something different. It involved two conflicts – Tess’ involvement with a radical cause and Tess’ inner demons, which were so painfully real. I appreciate the fact that Ms. Cornick provided both resolutions in the story to Tess demons instead of leaving them unsatisfactorily finished.
The book also had some funny moments such as when Tess finally found out that contrary to popular belief, Rothbury was not impotent and when Rothbury asked Tess’ brothers-in-law why they let her believe that he was such. I found those scenes humurous but if you are looking for funny romantic books, these are not for you. Really funny historical romance books seem to be quite rare, actually. But the lack of any comedic lines in the story does not distract from the plot.
I wanted to give a five out of five stars but I felt that the part about the twins should have been resolved, even with a few paragraphs. There could have been an epilogue about the twins being finally in Tess’ care, especially since they were the reason why she first married Rothbury.
All in all, I still enjoyed the book and I could barely put it down! It has been quite a while since I’ve felt that hankering to finish a romance novel quickly. So yes, go get a copy now.