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Monday, June 27, 2016

Book Review: A Gentleman's Guide to Scandal by Kathleen Kimmel

A Gentleman’s Guide to Scandal by Kathleen Kimmel
Book 2 in A Birch Hall Romance Series
E-Book, 319 pages
June 7, 2016

Heat Rating:

Genre: Historical Romance

Source: Received via Netgalley Request for Review

**This review was previously posted at Romantic Historical Reviews**

Even men of great certainty can be completely clueless when it comes to matters of the heart.
Colin Spenser, Marquess of Farleigh, is shocked when his feelings towards his best friend’s sister take a turn into the realm of helpless adoration. Unfortunately, Elinor is more inclined to ignore him than express her undying devotion, so Colin resolves to forget his troublesome feelings by entering a loveless marriage…
Elinor Hargrove has absolutely no interest in the infuriating and arrogant Marquess of Farleigh. That is, until he kisses her—twice—inspiring unexpected and inconvenient passions. Then Elinor finds out he’s engaged, and her desires are quickly surpassed by her outrage...
But when a ghost from their shared pasts resurfaces, Colin and Elinor must work together to puzzle out a complicated intrigue by attending an extremely exclusive party where secrets and lies flourish—and scandal is only a kiss away.
Colin Spenser has always had an interest in Elinor Hargrove, his best friend’s sister, but seeing as she isn’t interested in him, he resolves himself to an engagement of convenience for the sake of his title. Elinor would never know that Colin has an interest in her, as he has always been standoffish, and has resolved herself to being an old maid and content with escorting Colin’s younger sister through her first Season. They would have been comfortable to continue on this way had not some earth shattering information about the death of a Spenser family member forced Colin and Elinor into an awkward situation and having to work together to solve this puzzle. Will they come out of this quest the same way they went into it?

I loved both Colin and Elinor! They were both infuriating in their inability to share how they felt about each other and their obliviousness to how the other truly felt. They were not very good at judging characters either, which made for lots of confusion between the two and in attempting to solve this pseudo-mystery. Despite Colin coming off as cold and stand-offish to those around him, even Elinor thinks so, when you are reading the chapters from his perspective you see that most of it is that he is trying to protect himself from being hurt and isn’t the jerk he outwardly appears to be. Elinor is driven to help find out what happened to her friend and isn’t afraid to take a leap into a world that is shrouded in mystery to women of her station. It was entertaining to watch her try to walk the walk on the other side of the tracks! I could admire her passion to right a wrong, even if there is no way I would have done what she did!

The story is as much an adventure story as it is a romance novel. Elinor and Colin are both (separately and then together) trying to solve what happened to a Spenser family member once startling evidence of possible foul play is brought forward. This gets them into some quite dangerous situations as they try to work out who might have caused harm to this person, why, and how they will bring those involved to justice. I have read a few romance/adventure novels that lose traction in their ability to keep the sense of adventure going while introducing the romantic elements, and I’m happy to say that A Gentleman’s Guide to Scandal does not fall into that trap. Kimmel is able to balance the needs of the plot pacing of the mystery, constantly moving it forward, while introducing a whole new complication for the characters in the form of a romantic tryst. I honestly did not want to put this book down at the end of the night, it was that compelling for me. The evolution of the romance felt appropriate and in line with the characters motivations, even if it came to be in a rather unusual circumstance. The romantic elements (when we finally get to them) are hot, much more so than in A Debutante’s Guide to Rebellion, but it felt so right for the characters.

This is a second book in the Birch Hall Romance series. It can certainly be read as a stand-alone; I have not yet read the first book and was able to pick right up with the story without missing a beat. It takes place a little bit after the events of book one, but is focused on a different set of characters. Elinor’s brother and his new wife are peripheral characters here, but they are the stars of A Lady’s Guide to Ruin, book 1. After reading this book, I was also able to place the novella, A Debutante’s Guide to Rebellion, into the cannon as well. Each compliments each other well, but is crafted well enough to tell the whole story on its own.

I would compare this novel in its style to An Improper Arrangement by Kasey Michaels. If you enjoyed that book, I would highly recommend this one to be moved up your TBR.

Reviews of this book by other bloggers:
Buy the Book: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | RJ Julia

Also by Kathleen Kimmel:

A Lady’s Guide to Ruin (Birch Hall Book 1)

A Debutante’s Guide to Rebellion (Birch Hall Novella 1.5)
[My Review]

Find Kathleen Kimmel: Website | Facebook | Twitter


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