I really enjoyed the first novel in the A Season for Scandal series even if I quickly forgot the name of the author and the novel until I saw a recent review by Malin for the novella. With that reminder, I was finally able to discover the additional novels in the series, and jump back in.
Elise deVries was introduced in the previous novel as one of the partners of Chegarre and Associates, a private agency to help the rich deal with their problems discreetly and scandal free. Her current client Abigail engaged her services to check on her mother, whom her cousin has had committed to Bedlam, an infamous hospital for treating those with mental health issues. With the duke recently deceased and no surviving sons, the cousin stands to inherit the family fortune and title, except that Abigail’s mother keeps insisting that her son is still alive. Noah didn’t speak as a child and at some point disappeared from society, but most had assumed he had died. One can see why these statements could be seen as a threat and a reason to commit a sane woman to an insane asylum – especially after Abigail confirms that her brother is alive.
In order to free the duchess, Elise has to find the long lost heir, warn him that he is in danger of an assassination attempt, and convince him to come back to help his sister, save his mother and thwart his cousin. Fortunately for her, she finds him much more quickly than expected because he left a few more clues than expected when he contacted his sister a decade ago, which made it easy to trace him. Unfortunately for her, Noah likes his life away from the pressures of society, and there is the added complication, from a professional standpoint at least, that Noah and Elise are very attracted to each other.
There were quite a few things I liked about this novel – Elise and Noah had good chemistry, and felt rather believable. I liked seeing King again, and also liked that Bowen cut to the chase with some parts rather quickly rather than dragging out secrets and causing unnecessary conflicts as a result. Despite that, there were a few things that just seemed missing. At one point, Elise alludes to keeping her past secret but when the reader finally has all the details her previous life, nothing in it felt like a big secret, though it was unusual and a bit unconventional. If anything, it seems that it was more painful for Elise to remember what she had lost than carrying a big scandalous secret. I think mostly though, it felt like the ending wrapped up a bit too neatly too quickly, at least with regards to the cousin. I wouldn’t have minded an extra twist or turn in that part, and as result, the novel felt a bit rushed or too light after a very good build up with a likable romantic couple and supporting cast. I also really want more King! It doesn’t look like he has his own novel at this point, but fingers crossed! Overall, definitely a nice read but I don’t think this will be one of the ones that leaves a lasting impression despite having a very strong couple at the center.