Has this ever happened to you? You finish a really enjoyable book. The kind of book that sticks with you. And because of this, the next book you pick up suffers by comparison? Yep, I got The Just Finished A Maggie Osborne Novel Blues. Damn.
Let me state up front that this isn't going to be a complete review of A Scandalous Marriage by Cathy Maxwell. Why? Well, I'll be honest here - I skimmed quite a bit of it. Pretty much from the moment I realized this had a Romeo & Juliet plot thread front and center (FYI, the back cover description gives no indication of this). Yeah, yeah - the Maggie Osborne I just finished had the same sort of vibe, but it didn't directly involve the hero and heroine, and one of the major jackasses in that story (the hero's father) was dead. So, I could roll with it. In this story though? Not so much.
Devon Marshall, Viscount Huxhold loves Leah Carrollton, however there's a teeny little problem. Yeah, their families loathe each other. The Marshall's blame the Carrollton's for the death of Devon's parents and the Carrollton's are a pack of reprobate gamblers who blame the Marshalls for "ruining" them. Whatever. Devon and Leah fall in lurve, but it all goes to hell when Leah's idiot brother, Julian, calls Devon out in a duel and gets seriously injured (he ain't dead, but his hand is crippled). Leah says, "No, no Devon - I cannot run away with you now, you shot my idiot brother!" so Devon takes off and Leah gets knocked up by first pretty boy that wanders along (her way of getting back at her idiot family, naturally). Once pregnant, Leah runs away to the country, which is where Devon finds her quite by accident. Baby is born, Leah and Devon marry, and then the rest of the novel is spent dealing with family fallout.
I have a hard time with Romeo & Juliet plots because I want the romantic couple to reach deep down and grow a pair. Yeah, yeah, Regency England, blah, blah, blah. Yeah, yeah, historical accuracy, blah, blah, blah. This is one instance where I just can't seem to locate the "off switch" to my modern sensibilities. I know it isn't "fair" of me - but dang, it's just one of my foibles, so roll with it. I'm perfectly aware of the fact that I'm being unreasonable, I don't need anyone to point it out for me.
Now for readers who enjoy Romeo & Juliet With A Happy Ending plots? This one will probably be right up your alley. I did think some of the conflict was a little too easily resolved at times, but this story is well-written and flows nicely. Also, I really liked Devon as a hero, and Leah is OK, as long as the reader is willing to swallow the whole Rescue Fantasy aspect of her character. I found it a touch annoying, but I'll be honest - after reading The Promise Of Jenny Jones, any female character who can't find her big girl panties (let alone pull them up) is going to annoy the crap out of me.
For my own personal record keeping, I'm assigning this a Final Grade = C, but the rest of you should probably ignore that. I didn't give the entire book a thorough, careful reading, so I'd take my opinion with a grain of salt. Like I said though - if you dig rescue fantasies, along with Romeo & Juliet? This bad boy, published in 2000, is still in print.