Marriage Most Scandalous

( 66 )


#1 New York Times bestselling author Johanna Lindsay presents a powerfully romantic Regency-era tale that is breathtaking in scope and wondrously passionate.

When Sebastian Townshend, son of the eighth Earl of Edgewood, was banished from his family due to the tragic results of a duel, he vowed never to return to England. Now living on the continent, Sebastian has forged a new identity as a deadly mercenary, The Raven. But his former neighbor, Lady Margaret Landor, has different ...

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#1 New York Times bestselling author Johanna Lindsay presents a powerfully romantic Regency-era tale that is breathtaking in scope and wondrously passionate.

When Sebastian Townshend, son of the eighth Earl of Edgewood, was banished from his family due to the tragic results of a duel, he vowed never to return to England. Now living on the continent, Sebastian has forged a new identity as a deadly mercenary, The Raven. But his former neighbor, Lady Margaret Landor, has different plans for him. Back in England, Sebastian's father has had several accidents and Margaret suspects foul play and deception that reach as far back as the infamous duel. Convinced that only Sebastian can set the situation to rights, Margaret arranges a scandalous bargain with him that includes Sebastian's returning home as her husband. As the newlyweds uncover a deadly scheme, a fierce passion blossoms between them, which neither anticipated — and neither can resist.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
A deadly soldier of fortune meets a damsel with a mission in another historical bodice ripper by the popular author. Simultaneous Atria hardcover. Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
From the Publisher
"Deliciously sexy." — Booklist
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781476798394
  • Publisher: Gallery Books
  • Publication date: 10/4/2014
  • Edition description: Reissue
  • Pages: 448
  • Sales rank: 374,752
  • Product dimensions: 7.90 (w) x 4.90 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Johanna Lindsey is one of the most popular authors of romantic fiction, with over sixty million copies of her novels sold. World renowned for her novels of “first-rate romance” (New York Daily News), Lindsey is the author of forty-three previous bestselling novels, many of which have been #1 New York Times bestsellers. Lindsey lives in Maine with her family.
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Read an Excerpt

Marriage Most Scandalous

By Johanna Lindsey

Pocket Books

Copyright © 2005 Johanna Lindsey
All right reserved.

ISBN: 1-4165-0545-8

Chapter One

Like many towns and villages throughout Austria, Felburg had its share of Baroque architecture in its churches and its plaza, its fountains and charming squares. Where Vienna overwhelmed, Felburg offered peace and quiet, which was why Sebastian Townshend decided to spend the night there as he passed through the Alpine hills.

The job he had just finished had been frustrating, taking him from France to Italy, back to France, then to Hungary, and finally to Vienna. His mission had been to retrieve stolen books, very rare books that a wife had absconded with. His current employer didn't want his wife back, just the books. Sebastian had them in his possession now. The wife hadn't been cooperative, though. He'd had to steal them from her.

It had been a distasteful task but not as abhorrent as some of the jobs he'd taken over the years since he'd left home. For quite a few years he hadn't discriminated. He simply had little reason to care about anything. Disowned by his father, all ties to his family broken, and carrying a bitterness deep inside himself that he refused to acknowledge, Sebastian wasn't a man to trifle with. You had to have a reason to live in order to value life. He didn't particularly value his.

He used to. Wealth, title, good friends, and family had all been his. His life had seemed almost charmed. He had a tall, strapping body, exceptional good looks, and enjoyed splendid health. He'd had it all. But that was before he'd killed his best friend in a duel and had been told by his father never to darken England's shores again.

He hadn't gone back, had sworn he never would. England, once his home, held only painful memories for him. He'd been adrift now for eleven of his thirty-three years and saw no end to it.

Europe could be called his home if he had to name a place, but there was no place in particular that he favored. He'd been to every country on the Continent and a few beyond, spoke all of the major languages and a few of the less well-known ones, three acquired by necessity, six in all. He could afford a nice property to settle on. He'd left home penniless, but the jobs he took were lucrative, and with nothing to spend his money on, he was quite rich. But the idea of "home" reminded him too much of his real one, so he'd avoided establishing one. And he was rarely in one place for long. He lived in inns and hotels, and frequently when he was on a job, on a pallet on the ground.

He did buy one property in the north of France, though, only because he found it occasionally useful. The crumbling ruins of an old keep could hardly be called a home. The only thing intact in it had been the dungeon, but even that consisted of bare doorless cells that he'd never bothered to refurbish. He'd bought the ruins mainly to have a place where those looking to hire him could readily find him, or leave word with the caretaker he kept there. And because it suited his fancy to own a ruins, so similar to his life.

He didn't travel alone. Oddly enough, his valet had elected to go into exile with him. An adventurous sort John Richards had turned out to be, he actually enjoyed his new role. He still acted as Sebastian's valet, but he was also his source of information. As soon as they arrived in a new town or city, John would make himself scarce, then return with all pertinent information about the area and the important people who lived there. John could make himself understood in two more languages than Sebastian, though none of them fluently. He had become invaluable for Sebastian's line of work. He'd also become a friend, though neither of them would ever admit it, and John prided himself on adhering to his role of servant, albeit a superior one.

There was one other in their entourage now, a spunky ten-year-old lad who called himself Timothy Charles. He was English, though he'd been orphaned in Paris, which was where they'd met him last year when Timothy had been unsuccessful in picking Sebastian's pocket. John had taken pity on the lad because he reminded him of home and he was homeless in a foreign city. Somehow or other it was decided that they'd keep him, at least until they could find him a good home. They really ought to get around to doing that one of these days.

"Raven I believe you are called?"

Sebastian had been enjoying a glass of Austrian wine in the dining room of the inn where they were spending the night. The well-dressed man who had approached his table looked official. Tall, middle-aged, impeccably dressed. The two men who stood behind him looked like guards, not by their dress, which was plain, and not by their stature, which was on the short side. It was their alertness, the way they kept their eyes not just on Sebastian but also on the entire room.

Sebastian merely raised a black brow and said indifferently to the tall fellow, "I'm called many things. That's one of them."

He had a reputation, unwanted, certainly not intentional, but it had developed nonetheless, no doubt partially at John's instigation, of being a mercenary for hire, capable of accomplishing the impossible. He wasn't sure how he got the name Raven, possibly because there was a certain sinister look to him with his black hair and golden cat's eyes, though he wouldn't be surprised if the name was John's doing as well. And John never failed to let his contacts know that The Raven was in town, which frequently produced jobs that he wouldn't have otherwise heard about.

"You are for hire, yes?"

"Usually - if my fee is met."

The man nodded and assured him, "A man of your caliber would be expensive. This is understood and will not be an issue. My employer is generous and will more than meet your price. Do you accept?"

"Accept what? I don't hire on blindly."

"No, no, of course not. But the job is a very simple one, will require only time and a little effort."

"Then you don't need me. Good day."

The man looked shocked at being dismissed. Sebastian stood up and finished his wine. He didn't like dealing with lackeys, no matter how official or important they were. And he certainly wasn't interested in a simple job that anyone could do. But frequently he encountered rich men who could afford him, who wanted to hire him just so they could brag to their friends that they had employed the notorious Raven.

He started to walk away from the table. The two guards suddenly moved to block his way. He didn't laugh. Humor wasn't part of his character anymore. That deep bitterness that he refused to acknowledge left no room for humor. He was annoyed, though, that he was going to be forced to expend effort just to say no.

Before any violence could erupt, the official said, "I must insist that you reconsider. The duke expects you to be hired. He cannot be disappointed."

Sebastian still didn't laugh, though this time he actually had a small urge to do so. He took a moment to deal with the two fellows who thought to detain him, grasping each of them by their heads, which he smashed together. They crumpled at his feet while he glanced back at the official.

"You had a point to make?"

The man was staring at his guards on the floor. He looked disgusted. Sebastian couldn't blame him. Good guards were hard to come by.

The official sighed before he faced Sebastian again. "You've certainly made your point, sir. And allow me to apologize. I understated the matter, which on the surface seems simple enough but is far from it. Others have been sent to perform the task, and all have failed. Five years of failures. Have I intrigued you yet?"

"No, but you've gained a few more minutes of my time," Sebastian said and sat down again at the table. With a hand he indicated the man could make use of the other chair there. "Keep it brief, but be precise this time."

The fellow sat down, cleared his throat. "I work for Leopold Baum. This is his town, in case you were not aware of it. As you might guess, men of the duke's stature make enemies rather easily. It's unavoidable. One in particular happened to be his wife."

"She was his enemy when he married her?"

"No, but it didn't take her long to become one."

Sebastian raised a brow. "He's that difficult to get along with?"

"No, no, certainly not," the fellow insisted in defense of his employer. "But she possibly thought so. But to the facts. Five years ago she was kidnapped, at least it seemed so. A ransom was demanded and delivered, but the duchess wasn't returned. It was assumed she was killed. The duke was furious, of course. An extensive search ensued, but there were no clues to follow."

"Let me guess," Sebastian said dryly. "She perpetrated the kidnapping plot to extract some wealth before she went on her merry way?"

The fellow flushed. "So it would seem. Several months after the ransom was paid, she was seen traveling, quite in style, across Europe. Men were sent after her. A few more clues were found, but she never was."

"So what exactly does the duke want? His wife, his money, or both?"

"The money isn't important."

"If that's the case, why wasn't more expended in finding her? It sounds like he didn't really want her back."

"Frankly, sir, I must agree with you," the fellow confided. "I would have devoted more effort myself if she were my wife and I'd yet to produce an heir."

Sebastian sat back, somewhat surprised, though his expression remained inscrutable. He waited for the man to clarify his statement. He did appear slightly nervous now, after saying it.

"That is not to say that a great deal of effort has not already been made in the search. But the duke is a busy man. He has not spent every moment of these last years actively pursuing the matter. Now, however, he has become obsessed with finding her so he can divorce her and remarry."

"Ah, finally to the heart of the matter."

The fellow flushed, and his nod was so slight it was almost imperceptible. His nervousness was understandable now. He was saying things his employer wouldn't like him to reveal.

"When he heard you were in town, his hopes soared. Your reputation of success, no matter how difficult the job, has preceded you. He has every confidence that you will find his wife and bring her home."

"If I take the job."

"But you must!" the fellow began, then amended, "Or does it seem too difficult a task, even for you?"

Sebastian didn't take the bait. "I don't particularly like jobs that deal with women. I also haven't finished my last job, am on my way to France now to do that."

"But that is not a problem," the fellow assured him with some relief. "This job will take you in that direction. A brief detour would be quite permissible."

"That's where the duke's wife was last seen, in France?"

"The trail led there, and beyond. The duke's arm is far-reaching. Putting a great distance between herself and Austria appears to have been her priority during her escape."

"Did she head to the Americas?"

"No - at least we pray not. And a woman of her description took ship to Portsmouth at the time. The last report we had was that she took ship again, but only farther up the coast of England. Another ship was available, to North America, but since she didn't take that one, we concluded she decided to settle in England under an assumed name. There were no further reports. Every other man who was sent there to find her has never returned." And then the fellow whispered, "It's my guess they were afraid to return to the duke with only failure to report."

Having heard enough, Sebastian stood up to leave. "I am afraid I will have to decline after all," he said, a coldness having entered his tone. "England is one place I will never go. Good day."

He expected the man to try and stop him again. He didn't, probably because he realized it wouldn't do any good. Just as well. Jobs that dealt with women had an extra level of difficulty. On every single one he'd taken, the female involved had tried to seduce him.

John found it amusing, hilariously so, claiming that Sebastian was too handsome to be a mercenary. Sebastian disagreed. It was his reputation, the sinister persona of The Raven, and his indifference to the women that created the problem. He believed in putting the job before pleasure. But the women felt differently. Intrigued by him, they saw no reason to wait until the job was finished to become intimately acquainted with him. Which is where the added difficulty came in.

He had an ingrained sense of duty, which was probably why he excelled at his chosen occupation. Anything that deviated from getting the job done was to be avoided. Anything that distracted him was to be avoided as well. And a woman trying to seduce him was a definite distraction. He might not call himself an Englishman anymore, but he was still a man. So it really was just as well that he couldn't accept the duke's job.


Excerpted from Marriage Most Scandalous by Johanna Lindsey Copyright © 2005 by Johanna Lindsey. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 66 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 66 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 16, 2007

    Better Than Expected

    After reading some of the spectacularly bad reviews for this book I expected it to be awful, but was pleasantly surprised. I think it was a decent read, not her best, but ok. I think it was better than some of her other recent novels (A Man to Call My Own), and wasn't nearly as terrible as a lot of people claimed it was. I found the ending neither confusing, nor convoluted, and I find it hard to believe that anyone who paid a modicum of attention to the story would find it overly so either. Also, it was implied that the story is 'far-fetched' and to an extent it's true, but isn't that somewhat of an element of romance novels in general? I know I don't read romance novels because I expect that that's going to happen in real life! It's worth giving a chance anyway, and I feel many of the reviewers were a bit too harsh in reviewing it. It's true, it's not up to the usual standard, but it certainly was better than 1-2 stars.

    5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 15, 2006

    Ok Book

    I think that this book was ok. I rushed to the book store to get it and it took me a week to read it. I usually read her books in a day or two. It was slow and did not have any real passion. I thought that it was hard to follow in some places. This book will not deter me from buying other books. I still love her books, but this one was not my favorite.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 9, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    fabulous Regency romantic suspense

    In 1808 Sebastian Townshend is stunned to learn that his best friend Giles Weymess married a ¿whore¿ who he just slept with; however, he was unprepared for Giles to challenge him to a duel as the new wife weeping confessed that Sebastian seduced her. At Dueling Rock, Sebastian kills Giles. Feeling guilt and wanting to die, Sebastian flees to the continent where he becomes Raven the mercenary. --- When a series of near deadly accidents occur to Sebastian¿s father Douglas, his ward Lady Margaret Landor wonders if his younger son Denton and his spouse want to inherit early. She knows the only person she feels can keep her beloved guardian safe and uncover the truth is Sebastian. She travels to illicit his help; he refuses to go home unless she pays his mercenary fee that she cannot remit or her body in trade. Offering him a fortune they return to his home to learn the truth even as they fall in love. --- MARRIAGE MOST SCANDALOUS is a fabulous Regency romantic suspense starring a wonderful courageous heroine and her remorseful brooding champion. The exciting story line at times reads like an amateur sleuth tale as the lead couple try to keep his father safe and learn who the malevolence is as much as a save his soul historical. With several Lindsey twists, sub-genre fans will treasure this author¿s latest fine scandal driven tale.--- Harriet Klausner

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 20, 2015

    Enjoyed it

    I like Johanna Lindsay. And this bookwas no exception. There were some editing errors that made it difficut to figure out which character was speaking but over all I still rnjoyed the book.
    Great chraracters, mystery, passion and love.

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  • Posted September 29, 2012

    WOW!!! What A Super Book- Must Read!

    Loved this book -- Had a hard time putting it down!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 21, 2011


    Havent read a book by johanna lindsey that i havent become completely enraptured with.

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  • Posted November 5, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Good Read

    I always enjoy Johanna Lindsey

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 18, 2008

    Fun Read

    There's definite chemistry between the characters, however there's not much time spent between them for the readers to obsorb. The plot is weak, but I still liked the book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 5, 2006

    An unbelievably bad reading experience

    I have been a tremendous fan of Johanna Lindsey for years. I actually had all of her books at one time. This book was not up to her caliber of writing, at all. The characters were underdeveloped the storyline became convoluted and confusing at the end with too many unexpected and unsupported events. Instead of the 'aha' surprise that she probably expected, there was more of a groan. It is unfortunate that a tree had to die and money had to be spent to have this experience.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 7, 2006

    Ms. Lindsey: where have you gone??

    I have been a longtime fan of Johanna Lindsey, and have read every novel of hers, enjoying almost all of them. But I have to assume that there is now a ghostwriter, or a new (awful!) editor. This book is the worst of the last few. The plot is unformed and the characters badly underdeveloped, constantly contradicting their own personalities. She appears to pull in passion out of NOWHERE, recalling that this is indeed a romance and assuming that a kiss will substitute for romance. And Sebastian's 'darkness/anger' appear only when she seems to recall that he is supposed to be 'dark and angry' - as though she is following a cheesy formula and plugging in 'passion' and 'brooding' to remind us, the reader, that those elements are supposed to be present. But in no way is she consistent with the passion - I'm sorry, what is attracting them to each other?? I have no clue from her writing. And Sebastian is supposed to be so angry, never laughing, and all of a sudden he is laughing and joking and not noticing any difference in himself?? After eleven years? Yeah right. As for why they need to 'marry,' that plot point is so weak I'm amazed that the publisher ok'd it. The writing is terrible, so bad I almost put it down. (I'm on vacation with nothing else to read - the only reason I finished it.) The basic plot could have been interesting, but it is so unbearably rushed and underdeveloped - I feel like I am reading a first draft, or a book report (by a grade school student) of the real book, NOT a finished novel by a bestselling author. A terrible disappointment from a former master. Where have the days of Tony and James gone??

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 9, 2006

    A good read

    A duel eleven years ago cost him dearly. He kills his best friend, his father disowns him because of it. Now a neighbor comes looking for him, she needs his help to save his father. Can Margaret convince Sebastian to help her. And can she save her heart from the man they call 'The Raven'

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 9, 2006

    Okay..but she has better

    I am a big Johanna Lindsey fan, but this was not one of her best. Just by reading the back, the premise seemed interesting. But I don¿t think she developed her characters enough or the story line. I usually fall in love with her heroines/heros but I never felt that way about this book. I think she rushed the story or the story was too big for her? Johanna Lindsey fans will still want to read this, but don¿t rush out and buy it today!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 17, 2006

    Not what I expected...

    I always rush out to buy books by Johanna Lindsey, so it was no different with this book. I was shocked at the lack of development of her characters. They could have been developed much more. Her romance was lacking a passion that she normally writes with.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 1, 2006

    Zzzz What a Bore!

    I am a big Johanna Lindsey fan. I have every book she has ever written and I have loved 97% of them, BUT THIS IS NOT ONE of them. I have been reading this book for 3 days now and I am still not finish, will be in the next hour or so. Normally I read one of her books in less then a day. This book whole plot was dumb and it just seemed to drag on and on. I was truly disappointed.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 30, 2006


    I have been reading Johanna Lindsey books for many, many years, and she was always a favorite. This book was just plain boring. I didn't care much for the characters, and the plot was stale. I really tried to like it! I was looking forward to it to be honest. But I found I just didn't care what happened. It was a little far fetched, and it was very easy to put down again and again.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 13, 2006

    Not her best

    I have read all of Johanna Lindsey's books and love and recommend all of the classics, this latest book is lacking in passion and humor her other books are famous for. I have read the reviews by other readers and took the advice to rent the book from the library. I am glad I went that route.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 19, 2005

    Excellent read

    Another great book. I have been an avid fan for years and read the books again and again and this one is as good as the Malory novels.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 25, 2005

    plotless wonder

    This plot so far fetched that I had to reread the end because I could not believe it.I usually like her books but this was so disappointing that i am glad i took it out of the library.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 16, 2005

    Very disappointing....

    I have read all of Johanna Lindsey's book and I have almost all of them. I love her books and anxiously anticipate each new release. However, this book was extremely disappointing. Lindsey's characters generally engage the reader - you want to fall in love with the men and become the women. The characters in this book fall flat - I never felt any connection whatsoever with either the heroine or hero and the book completely lacked the wit and humor that generally characterizes Lindsey's writing. I was ready for the book to be over before I was halfway through it. The plot was also weak - the first two chapters were completely irrelevant to the rest of the book and the ending was improbable. If you must read this book (and I'm sure most Lindsey fans will want to) wait until it comes out on paperback or check it out at your local library - it's not worth the price of the hardcover. And if you need the 'Lindsey' fix in the meantime - reread the Malory series or 'Once A Princess' and 'You Belong to Me' - Lindsey classics that are enjoyable!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 20, 2005


    I have read all of Johanna Lindsey's books. In fact she is one of my favorite authors. Therefore I was extremely disappointed in this book. I felt after loving scoundrel she had found her niche again. The story in marriage most scandalous did not draw you in. In fact I was bored with a lot of the dialogue in the book. Again as an avid reader of her work I was greatly disappointed.

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