Title: Scandalous

Author: Karen Robards

Redonk Nutshell: Imposter falls for his “sister” – ESCANDOLO!

Official Synopsis: England, 1810: When Lady Gabriella Banning receives word that her half-brother, the Earl of Wickham, has died on his tea plantation in Ceylon, she faces the reality that she and her younger sisters, Claire and Elizabeth, are suddenly penniless. The family’s riches will pass to the next male heir — a distant cousin — and the Banning sisters are doomed unless Gabby thinks fast. Which she does. Pretending that Marcus is still alive, Gabby arranges beautiful Claire’s London season. She’ll keep up the pretense just long enough for Claire to marry a fabulously wealthy nobleman. But when a handsome gentleman arrives at the door and claims to be Marcus, Gabby’s plan backfires. For if she exposes this mysterious stranger’s deceit, she exposes her own. Bound by secrets and lies, Gabby and the roguish adventurer strike sparks off each other — and soon London society is abuzz over the scandalous pair of “siblings” who appear to be falling in love…

This was my first read by Karen Robards.  Scandalous is the first in a trilogy about The Banning Sisters, three girls who all share the same father but different mothers.  The first installation is about Gabriella, the eldest.  She’s a take-charge kind of woman, filling the shoes of their parental figures (dad is dead, may the heathen rest in peace; mom(s) are deceased as well) and taking care of her younger siblings.  She commits herself to securing a coming-out for her next oldest sister, Claire, and writes to her half-brother, Marcus, the Earl of Wickham, for his permission to take the family to London. Marcus receives the letter and agrees, but he’s suddenly shot dead on his tea plantation in Ceylon.  Gabriella’s servant returns to her with news of their brother’s untimely demise as well as his letter of agreement, and Gabriella is faced with a dilemma – if she announces the news of her brother’s death the earldom will pass to their stuffy, cruel cousin; but if she hides the news she can take her sisters to London and secure a future for Claire.  Gabriella decides to take a gamble, and they pack up their things and set off to London.  Gabby keeps the secret of Marcus’s death between herself and her servant.  You can only imagine her shock and mortification upon arriving in London to find the Earl of Wickham in residence.  You know, because HE’S DEAD.  “Marcus” is, in fact, an imposter and he senses upon first meeting his “sisters” that Gabby knows that something is amiss. What Gabby doesn’t know, though, is that pseudo-Marcus is on the hunt for Real-Marcus’s killer, and he assumed the Earl’s identity in hopes of luring the murderer out into the open.

The great thing about Gabby is she has a hell of a temper.  And Pseudo-Marcus, hereon referred to as “PM” is a bit of a pompous ass.  The banter between the two is funny.  Objects fly, including bullets.  Of course PM and Gabby fall for each other, but they have to tread carefully because everyone around them sees them as brother and sister.  And we all know how “Flowers in the Attic” THAT is.

Scandalous was a fun read.  It wasn’t one that will stick with me, but I did have a good time reading it.  Robards has a conversation-like writing style with her descriptions.  I liked that the three Banning sisters were each their own woman, all three encompassing completely different personalities.  The most recent release of Robards’ was Shameless, the story of the youngest Banning sister, Elizabeth.  I’ll probably pick it up some time in the future, but I’m in no rush to do so.  Mandi over at Smexy Books recently reviewed it.

What I loved about this book: Gabby is feisty.  She throws things.  She shoots people. It’s fantastic.

What I didn’t like: The virgin premise gets a bit old for me, and this case was no exception.  It was well played, however.

Rating: C+

Romance: 3/5      Raunch: 3/5

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