Secrets of a Scandalous Heiress

Secrets of a Scandalous Heiress

3.8 13
by Theresa Romain
     
 

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A 2016 RITA Finalist for Historical Romance!

A titleless heiress. A secret identity.
And the one man who could ruin it all.

Heiress Augusta Meredith is tired of stirring up gossip wherever she goes, so she escapes to Bath masquerading as a charming young

Overview

A 2016 RITA Finalist for Historical Romance!

A titleless heiress. A secret identity.
And the one man who could ruin it all.

Heiress Augusta Meredith is tired of stirring up gossip wherever she goes, so she escapes to Bath masquerading as a charming young widow in the hopes of taking a lover with no one the wiser. But when sardonic, darkly handsome Joss Everett arrives from London, her charade may be over before she has a chance to spread her wings.

Augusta persuades Joss to keep her secret in exchange for a secret of his own. Weaving their way through the treacherous pitfalls of a polite world only too eager to expose and condemn them, they begin to see that being true to themselves is not so bad...as long as they're true to each other.

Secrets of a Scandalous Heiress is a fun Regency Romance full of witty banter, heartbreak, mystery, and honest love. Fans of Sabrina Jeffries, Julia Quinn and Stephanie Laurens will enjoy this charming story of a second chance at love.

Matchmaker Trilogy:
It Takes Two to Tangle (Book 1)
To Charm a Naughty Countess (Book 2)
Secrets of a Scandalous Heiress (Book 3)

What readers are saying about Secrets of a Scandalous Heiress:
"Interesting, complex characters."
"Lovely book that has to be savored slowly like good wine to get the full effect of the writing, the characters and their growth through the story."
"HEARTBREAKING AND HILARIOUS."
"Clever and witty."
"WONDERFULLY LAYERED, flawed characters."
"Wonderful sense of humour."
"Intriguing, heartbreaking!"

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
11/24/2014
Romain concludes her Matchmaker Regency trilogy (after To Charm a Naughty Countess) with irresistible brio and wit. Augusta Meredith, who has money from her family’s cosmetics fortune but no title, is used to circling the edges of the beau monde. Marrying the right man could give her access to the inner circle, but the only fellows buzzing near her are pathetic fortune-hunting losers. So she accompanies a friend to Bath for a change of scene—and name, registering as Mrs. John Flowers in order to escape the taint of industry and the inevitable fortune hunters. The trip is already going poorly when Josiah “Joss” Everett recognizes her. Everett, who’s also an outsider of sorts, agrees to keep her secret if she will reciprocate by keeping mum about his reasons for being in Bath, which involve blackmail and Joss’s adulterous cousin, Baron Sutcliffe. It’s all good deceptive fun as the cat-and-mouse games are augmented by spirited repartee, with comic relief provided by Sutcliffe and his wife. Charming characters and great dialogue triumph over a slender plot. Agent: Paige Wheeler, Folio Literary Management. (Jan.)
From the Publisher
"Anyone seeking a different Regency setting and non-royal characters is certain to find Romain's novel a bright light. Well written, filled with likable characters and topped off with a mystery... Expect to shed some tears of joy by the wonderful conclusion." - RT Book Reviews, 4 Stars

"Romain concludes her Matchmaker Regency trilogy (after To Charm a Naughty Countess) with irresistible brio and wit... It's all good deceptive fun as the cat-and-mouse games are augmented by spirited repartee, with comic relief provided by Sutcliffe and his wife." - Publishers Weekly

"Romain brings her Matchmaker trilogy to a splendidly satisfying conclusion with this smart, sexy, and emotionally involving historical that gifts readers with a beautifully realized Bath setting and a refreshingly different, wonderfully nuanced hero and heroine." - Booklist

"I really enjoyed everything about this book. The characters were fascinating and not the standard duke (I don't have anything against the standard duke, mind, but I like reading about the 99%, too). I loved Joss' identity issues, and the setting made me so happy. I also really liked that there wasn't an evil villain in the background twirling his moustache and cackling. This was a delight." - Smart Bitches, Trashy Books

"By far this book is one of the best romantic novels that I have had the pleasure of reading in a long time. Romain is a delightful, fun entertainer..." - Night Owl Reviews, Top Pick!

"It's a lovely story and well written. I look forward to more from this author." - The Reading Cafe

" I would highly recommend this brilliant yet stunning novel to readers all over. It's the most captivating romance readers will ever find." - Romancing the Book

"Beautifully written, Secrets of a Scandalous Heiress is a must-read for anyone who enjoys romance." - Long and Short Reviews

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781402284052
Publisher:
Sourcebooks
Publication date:
01/06/2015
Series:
Matchmaker Trilogy , #3
Pages:
320
Sales rank:
324,435
Product dimensions:
4.20(w) x 6.70(h) x 1.00(d)

Read an Excerpt

One

March 1817

Most people hoped to spot familiar faces in a crowded ballroom. Augusta Meredith prayed to see only strangers.

For nearly a week, her prayers had been granted. In winter's waning days, the ton kept its distance from Bath. The resort city's fashionable years were in the past, and so the cream of society avoided it, favoring the rural delights of hunting or the sophisticated pleasures of London.

Not that Augusta had ever been part of the ton. But like a moth before an ever-closed window, she had fluttered around its bounds long enough that someone might recognize her.

Thus far, though, the crowds in Bath's Upper Rooms presented her only with strangers-merchants and cits and hangers-on. A lower social class; exactly the sort of people Augusta knew best. Exactly who she was. In Bath, she didn't have to pretend to be someone else.

Though larger than any ballroom Augusta had seen in London, the Upper Rooms were just as crowded with slowly churning waves of people. But there was one great difference: here Augusta inhabited the center, not the edge.

"Mrs. Flowers, m'dear!"

The voice floated above the din in the high-ceilinged room, and Augusta turned toward it. "Mrs. Flowers!" The call came again; this time, the shouting man waved his arms too.

Augusta returned his wave with a graceful flicker of her fan, then flipped it open to hide her grin.

Well, maybe she did pretend to be someone else.

The shouting man was heavyset and young, probably less than her twenty-five years. Every time he had spoken with Augusta, he had been tipsy; since she could not recall his name, she had mentally dubbed him Hiccuper. He shouldered toward her, making slow progress through the crowd. The pale-walled, elaborately plastered ballroom stretched high and long, yet dancing figures filled it to the brim. Babbling voices bounced from the barrel-vaulted ceiling, raining from the wrought iron—faced walkway across the room's end.

Bath was a city of carefully calculated comforts, from the regimented hours for bathing and taking the mineral waters to the location of the nightly assemblies. Everything was orchestrated to bring strangers together in harmony. And through this sort of artificial harmony, Augusta would slip into the escape she craved.

Hiccuper had almost reached her; no doubt he intended to escort her into the winding figures of the dance. When the steps brought them together, he would leer at her breasts; when the dance was over, he might try to persuade her to accompany him home.

All part of the plan she put into action when she entered a false name in Bath's social registry, the Pump Room's guest book. By writing "Mrs. John Flowers" instead of "Miss Augusta Meredith," she became a widow instead of an unmarried woman, shedding the social manacles of an heiress who drew her fortune from trade.

And she didn't intend to carry out her plan with someone like Hiccuper. Augusta Meredith might hope for no better, but Mrs. Flowers could.

Hiccuper was still feet away, swept into a conversation with friends, when another voice spoke in her ear. "Mrs. Flowers, what good fortune to encounter you here in Bath. Do you know, you greatly resemble a young lady of my acquaintance."

A male voice. A familiar male voice.

Damn. Her luck had just run out.

Still hiding behind her fan, Augusta turned toward the voice. From its cursed tone of humor, she at once recognized it as Josiah Everett's-and yes, here he stood, plainly dressed, handsome, and full of wicked glee. He was the worst sort of person she could have encountered: one who knew her too well to be fooled by her deception, but not well enough to take part in it.

"Mr. Everett." She forced a smile. "How unexpectedly delightful to see you. I would have expected you to remain in London for business reasons."

Like Augusta, Everett orbited society at a distance but had a few friends among the beau monde's permissive fringes. Although of respectable birth, his means were straitened. He worked for his bread, serving as Baron Sutcliffe's man of business.

This much Augusta had gleaned from the gossip that scattered whenever Everett made his occasional forays into society. She knew little else about him.

"I almost believe your delight in our meeting to be sincere." Everett bowed. "You are correct, I am generally in London at this time of year. At the present, though, a particular errand requires my attention in Bath. A happy accident, would you not say?"

Was that amusement in his dark eyes? Probably. Humph. He always looked amused.

"But what of you, Mrs. Flowers?" he pressed. "Your name tells me you have been recently married. Permit me to congratulate you."

"Oh, I am not married at present, Mr. Everett." A true statement. She fluttered her fan, an elaborate affair of lace and ivory and painted silk, before her bosom. Earlier this evening, a certain Mr. Rowe had informed her the gesture looked elegant.

As though a woman with hair the color of a persimmon, and no birth to recommend her, could ever truly be elegant. But elegance had its limits, and Augusta had grown used to enticing men with her figure instead.

Everett refused to be enticed; he only folded his arms in his plain, black coat. "Dear me. Ought I instead to offer condolences? Has Mr. Flowers departed this earth?"

Augusta snapped her fan closed. "Is there something you require of me, sir?"

"Merely a confirmation." Everett's dark features held a sardonic expression. "My condolences, then. I did suspect you to be a widow"-he paused over this final word-"since half the men in this ballroom are caterwauling your praises."

"Only half?" She arched a brow. "How sad. My popularity is declining."

Everett's smile grew. "I haven't been present long. It might be more."

"And what are these caterwauling men saying of me?"

He lifted his gaze to a chandelier, one of five elaborate gilt affairs that lit the stretching room and cast down as much heat as they did light. Outside, night hung like dark velvet over the clerestory windows. "I believe," he drawled, "that someone said your bosom could launch a thousand ships. That seems a bit much to ask of a bosom, though. It is not a dockyard."

"Certainly not for you," Augusta muttered. It was, however, her best feature. Her indigo silk's low-cut bodice was trimmed in gold cord and lace, a fashion flattering to a young woman with more curves than subtlety.

"Perhaps I shouldn't have told you what I'd overheard." Everett was looking at her again, dark brows slightly lifted as though he were challenging her. "Then again, if you're a widow, you can handle a bit of scandalous talk."

"Mrs. Flowers!" Hiccuper had pushed his way through the crowd at last, panting boozily. "Mrs. Flowers, m'dear."

"Ah, Mr...." She covered her uncertainty over his name with a titter. "How good to see you."

"You must dance with me, Mrs. Flowers. They're forming a cotillion." The young man leaned closer, the odor of perspiration and cheap sherry as sharp as a slap. When he breathed out, setting the curls at Augusta's ears into a dance, she went stiff.

Avoiding Everett's gaze, she simpered, "I'm sorry, dear sir, but I've just agreed to dance with this gentleman." She waved her fan in Everett's direction with languid disinterest, hoping he had manners enough not to give the lie to her words.

Indeed, Everett spoke up at once. "So sorry, dear sir, but perhaps you may have a later dance. Mrs. Flowers, shall we take our places in the set?" He held out a gray-gloved hand.

With a parting wave, she left a surprised Hiccuper behind and joined Everett in pressing through the crowd. "Thank you for covering my little falsehood-"

"One of several."

"But," she added in a slightly louder tone, "you don't really have to dance with me. I could develop an urgent requirement for tea. Or a rest."

"I certainly do need to dance with you, if that's the sort of man who follows you around discussing your bosom." Everett frowned back at Hiccuper. "Your dear sir smelled as though he hadn't washed for a week. Has he bothered you before?"

"No. No one bothers me."

Everett slanted a sideways look at her, then set his jaw.

It was a rather nice jaw, clean and strong. As though his veins carried Mediterranean blood, his skin was a dark olive, his hair black and slightly curling. Within his gray gloves, his hands had a firm, pleasant grip.

How unfortunate that such a fine form belonged to such an unnerving man, with such a pestilent wit.

Though at the moment, his usual satirical expression had settled into solemn lines. "It is, of course, your affair if you want to throw away your time on men who compare you to a dockyard."

"You were the one who made that comparison." She tried to tug her fingers from his grasp, but an elderly man with grizzled side whiskers jostled against them. To steady her, Everett drew her closer. The contact surprised a hitching breath from Augusta; at Everett's side, she caught a faint, spicy scent. Sandalwood?

Again, he looked at her sidelong. "Yes, well. I certainly wouldn't deny you could find better company than me. Though at least I wash every day. That's something, I suppose."

"That's something," she repeated. Under the guise of stumbling against his arm, then catching her breath in the crowd, she inhaled again. Yes. Sandalwood. A faraway scent, as unusual as it was masculine. Because it had to be imported from afar, from sultry corners of the world like India or Hawai'i, the golden oil was costly.

As the heiress to a cosmetics fortune, Augusta knew fragrances as well as most women knew fashion. Sandalwood was an unusual choice for any Englishman, much less one of limited means.

She had just learned something else about Josiah Everett: he was a man of at least one surprise.

Maybe he would hold one more, if she could persuade him. Rising to her toes, she whispered in his ear, "Mr. Everett. How can I convince you to keep my secret?"

***

Encountering Augusta Meredith was not the first surprise that had befallen Joss since his arrival in Bath three days before, though it was certainly more pleasant than the ones that had preceded it.

Hearing Augusta Meredith referred to as "Mrs. Flowers"? Another surprise, and this one less pleasant. For a dreadful, swooping moment, he thought she had finally got herself married off.

But no. It seemed the name and the widowhood were equally fictitious, part of some plan of hers. As, no doubt, was her warm breath in his ear. Her husky whisper. The faint floral scent she wore, so delicate and sweet he could almost taste it.

How can I convince you to keep my secret?

He ought to require no convincing at all; he ought simply to do a lady's bidding. But as he knew quite well, secrets came at a great price. That was, after all, why he was in Bath to begin with.

So he reserved a definite reply, at least until he could determine what sort of scheme the lady had in mind. "At the moment, my dear Mrs. Flowers, you need do nothing but dance with me." He drew her to one side of a set. Throughout the enormous ballroom, couples were grouping, four by four, into the squares of the cotillion.

Joss hoped he remembered the steps. He hadn't danced since he was a half-grown boy, filling in the sets with maids and servants to help his second cousin, Lord Sutcliffe, learn the figures he would need to move about in high society.

How many years had Joss spent helping Sutcliffe with figures? Though he was only thirty-one years old, it seemed the task of a lifetime. Now, though, the baron needed his aid with figures of a different sort: amounts of money, curves of women.

But soon that would all be done, Joss's long servitude at an end. If he could get a few damned people to speak with him. So far, the so-called Mrs. Flowers was the only person who had given him more than a curious glance, or a dismissive one. And though her smile had been polite, he was fortunate her eyes were incapable of firing bullets.

He had hoped the fluctuations of Bath society, always bidding bonjour and adieu to travelers, would allow him to conduct his business more efficiently than in London. But no, even here, gazes skated over him. Maybe because of his dark complexion or the plainness of his clothing. To them, Joss did not appear as though he had anything to offer.

At least he made a better dance partner than an unwashed sot.

He looked down at Miss Meredith, standing to his right, impatient and fidgety under her lush tangle of red curls threaded with amber beads. Her bosom-which might not truly launch a thousand ships, but which was certainly worthy of a flotilla-rose and fell with fascinating force within her purple silk gown. Maybe she intended to use her pneumatic talents to befuddle him into agreement.

He was quite willing to let her try. "Take hands, my dear widow."

With a filthy look quickly turned angelic, she let him draw her into the small circle of their dance.

"I wonder at your grimaces, Mrs. Flowers," he murmured, sliding over the smooth wooden floor in some semblance of the correct balances and steps and chassés. "You invited me to dance, after all. Is this cotillion not the fulfillment of your ambition?"

Her light brown eyes opened wide, but a retort was arrested by the movement of the dance: the four women stepped inward, forming a cross with their joined hands. After they completed their steps and turns, the men did the same. Joss's three companions bore a familiar look of determined concentration; one man was actually counting the steps to himself.

This was Bath in miniature: a polite grouping of strangers thrust into close proximity. All unwilling to give offense, but unsure whether they ought to have anything to do with one another. Yet the people, like the ballroom walls, were plastered and painted. Hoping to impress.

Joss was no different, was he? Except that plaster and paint were beyond his means. He had only ever seen the ton from the outside, peering out from the corner of a ballroom or down from a balcony's dizzying height. This feeling of being melted and mixed into a crowd was unfamiliar and thus not entirely pleasant.

Before the dance dragged them apart again, Miss Meredith managed to hiss in his ear. "I will grant that I find you preferable to being pawed by a drunkard."

"You honor me. As I am not intoxicated, may I be permitted to paw you instead?"

Stepping, sliding, hopping again. This dance was not conducive to conversation. And Joss much preferred boots to the ridiculous glossy shoes required by Bath's master of ceremonies at formal assemblies. It was so difficult to find his footing in this sort of place.

When they next passed each other, Miss Meredith gave him a truly lovely smile. "You are welcome to try it and see what happens. Are you fond of all your fingers?"

"Indeed I am, my dear Widow Flowers, so I shan't put a hand on you except as part of this dance. You deserve every courtesy, having married and buried a husband since we last met-when was it?"

"Last summer." She frowned. "Just before the Duke of Wyverne's house party."

"No doubt you are right," he said lightly, as though he could not remember the exact dates. She had not been present at the ducal house party in Lancashire; he had noticed at the time. And he had wondered how bright her hair would appear under the cold northern sky.

A violin wandered out of tune; with a sweet rebuke, an oboe called it back. Joss stepped forward into the cross with the other men. Now the chain, in which his feet were supposed to do something intricate while he and Miss Meredith held hands. He settled for taking her fingers and shuffling back and forth just enough not to smack into the other dancers.

"As I said before, you have my condolences for your recent bereavement," he pressed mercilessly. "This festive interlude must be an attempt to kick away your mourning. How brave and noble of you! Though it is a bit soon, if-"

"It's all a lie, all right?" she whispered. "Now stop talking. You know I'm not a widow."

Her sudden frankness surprised him into silence, as did the hard expression that crossed her soft features.

For a moment they simply shuffled gracelessly, hands clasped and bodies a breath apart. The pale swell of her flotilla-launching breasts, the fiery glints of her hair under the chandelier light had him wishing she were a widow in truth.

But she was a maiden. A dishonest maiden. And two generations of family scandal had taught Joss that, though dishonesty was sometimes permissible, dallying with maidens was not.

"I know you are not." Regret thickened his voice. "I would love to lie about who I am. I simply didn't think of it."

"If only you had, then we would be on equal footing. As it is, my reputation is in your hands."

"Mrs. Flowers, every time a woman dances with a man, her reputation is in his hands. That is why it is such an honor when a lady agrees to dance with a man."

"But I asked you to dance," she said. "Or if we are to be accurate, I informed you that you were to dance with me."

"Then I suppose my reputation is in your hands."

She looked at him with some surprise; then the dance separated them. There ensued an interminable winding and stepping and crossing, until finally the orchestra's sawing dwindled away. As Miss Meredith applauded with the other dancers, Joss caught her elbow and steered her to the edge of the room.

The crush was slightly less here. When Joss glared at a dandy seated on a small bench, the fellow scrambled away and Joss handed his partner into the seat. "Do tell me, Mrs. Flowers," he said as he looked down at her, "how have you passed off this new identity?"

A fan dangled from one wrist; she caught it up in her other hand and began teasing it open. It bore a painting of some curly-headed, Greek-looking youth, with white draperies and tiny wings and puffed-out cheeks.

"Zephyr," she said, noticing Joss's gaze. "The god of the west wind. An apt decoration for a fan, don't you think?" She waved it at him, and a welcome eddy of cool air brushed his features.

Joss ignored this attempt at diversion, lifting his brows.

She snapped the fan closed. "Very well. I'm visiting Bath in company with the Countess of Tallant. You have made her acquaintance, I think?"

"Yes, certainly." The young auburn-haired countess and her doting husband were a popular pair, sharing unshakable good humor.

"Lady Tallant is"-Miss Meredith paused-"not well. She's here to take the waters and does not plan to mix much in Bath society. So I was tasked with visiting the Pump Room after we arrived, to sign our names in the guest book and meet the master of ceremonies and whatnot. I took the opportunity to...not be me anymore."

"You are still you," Joss reminded her. "You simply called yourself something different. Why Mrs. Flowers, by the way?"

She coughed. "I saw a vase of flowers in one corner as I was introducing myself, and that was that."

"To think, if the master of ceremonies had made your introduction in a different room, Bath might now be admiring the charms of Mrs. Roman Statue."

Her attempt at a frown was a dreadful failure; in a moment, it flipped into a smile and a low chuckle. The sound was throaty and knowing, entirely different from the feathery giggle she had used with the portly drunkard who had tried to seize her for a dance.

That had been a maiden's laugh. This? This was the chuckle of a woman who liked the company of a man.

Only when her laugh fell silent, the smile vanishing, did Joss realize he had been staring at her in some wonder.

"So you'll keep my secret?" she asked in a brittle voice.

"That depends on why you possess a secret in the first place." Though his brows were getting tired from all the lifting, he kept the blasé expression on his face. "Why are you posing as a widow, Miss Meredith? Are you in some danger?"

Her features crumpled; then she straightened her shoulders. "Not at all." She looked up at him, and her smile almost reached her brandy-gold eyes. "It's as simple as this, Mr. Everett. I require a lover."

Meet the Author

Historical romance author Theresa Romain pursued an impractical education that allowed her to read everything she could get her hands on. She then worked for universities and libraries, where she got to read even more. Eventually she started writing, too. She lives with her family in the Midwest.

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Secrets of a Scandalous Heiress 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 13 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
These reviews are difficult to post. This is my second attempt. The story overall is weak. The motivation of the characters is not compelling. The hero, Joss, is somewhat sympathetic, however, the heroine is ridiculous. It is not clear why Augusta (was that her name? She was so forgettable), came up with the pretense she did. I found it completely incomprehensible. Even as the author tried to explain it, I couldn't fathom why she would choose this story line. It all seemed rather forced. I am uncertain whether I will read any other of this authors stories. This was my first one. Any advice?
girlfromwvaKY 10 months ago
Secrets of a Scandalous Heiress is Book 3 in the Matchmaker series. This is a Regency Romance. A title-less heiress is looking for a lover, but she might find more than she bargained for. It is the story of Heiress Augusta Meredith and Joss Everett. Augusta is very tired of gossip following her wherever she goes. She escapes to Bath and their society by pretending to be a charming young widow. She is hoping to take on a lover with no one being aware of who she truly is. Joss is dark, handsome and sharp. He might figure out Augusta's farce even before she has a chance to blossom. She convinces Joss to keep her secret in trade for a secret he has. They weave their path through dangers of a well-mannered world that would be eager to out them and belittle them. They start to see that if they can be true to each other that being true to themselves isn't so offensive. This fun Regency Romance is full of mystery, regret, clever banter, and bona fide love. I love Theresa's style of writing. I enjoyed it immensely.
SadieHunt More than 1 year ago
At the onset I thought this was going to be another Regency romp – what with the commonplace devise of fabricated personas and soon-to-be couples keeping secrets for each other – but happily there was much more depth to the characters, their vulnerabilities, and their feelings for each other than I expected. I was very pleasantly surprised and will definitely take a look back at the earlier two books in the series. Verdict: Slow-burning sizzle and excellent portrayal of loneliness, longing, and vulnerability elevates this soul-pleasing Regency . 4/5.
SummerSnowFalls More than 1 year ago
Augusta Meredith, heiress to the Meredith Beauty fortune, is in desperate need of an escape, a change of pace that lets her get away from the high society life of London. She finds freedom posing as Mrs. Flowers in Bath. So long as no one recognizes her, she will be free to explore and flirt and perhaps even find love. But then she runs in Joss Everett, who recognizes her immediately. Now she must convince Joss to go along with her scheme. Thankfully, Joss is in Bath on some top-secret business and has a few secrets of his own and Augusta is just the person to help him alleviate a few of those messy business problems. Joss claims to be prideful and perhaps he is to an extent, but not so much as to be distasteful. Rather, he has suffered humility at the hands of his cousin and London society his entire life and is trying to preserve what dignities he can. Augusta is an extremely wealthy heiress who yearns to be loved for who she is rather than the vast fortune she represents. She is stuck – rich enough to put most of the beau monde to shame, yet not possessing the pedigree to be truly accepted as one of their own. The love between Joss and Augusts develops very, very slowly and in small, subtle ways. Indeed, it seems more like amicable companionship than overwhelming passion. This makes for a nice change of pace from the insta-love novels that try to tear the characters’ clothes off as quickly as possible. Their love is very, very tame. Anyone looking for deep-felt emotions, declarations of love and passion, or spicy sex scenes should look elsewhere. This novel is more literary romance than anything else. There are some interesting secondary characters in this story. I love Lord Wittingham and the teasing banter between him, Joss, and Augusta at their first meeting which was laugh out loud funny. Joss’ cousin is quite silly, almost childish if it weren’t for his very adult dalliances with the maids, and provides some much needed frustration for Joss as well as humor for the reader. However, I didn’t find Augusta’s scheme very worthy of someone supposedly in the position of “heroine.” The idea that she wants to use and then discard someone, even a consenting someone, was distasteful and wrong and wholly inconsistent with her characterization. Overall, this was enjoyable, but nothing really too remarkable. The mystery regarding Sutcliffe’s blackmailer is not terribly compelling, mostly because Sutcliffe was not a sympathetic character and the reveal was anti-climactic. I liked the setting in Bath, which was something different, and the moments of witty dialogue. I think if the plot had been more interesting and the love between Joss and Augusta more enticing, I would rate this higher, but as it stands this is a solid “meh” for my tastes. Originally posted at Plot Twist Reviews [dot] Com I received this book for free from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
alterlisa More than 1 year ago
I didn't realize until after I'd finished this book that it was in fact the third book in the series. Definitely did not feel like I'd missed anything by not having read the earlier books, but I do intend going back and reading them as this book was fabulous. I liked that the setting was in Bath rather than the London ball rooms. I loved reading about the places and activities that took place there as well as the more relaxed feel of the parties.   I loved the banter between Joss and Augusta. They had me chuckling out loud frequently as they snarked at one another. The fact that both main characters were working upper middle class rather than the usual upper class, Lord or Lady, was also a plus for me. It was a very refreshing change of pace.  While there was a rather quirky romance, there was also a small mystery involving blackmail that while not real in depth did add yet another layer to the story. Romance plus mystery plus snarky main characters added up to a very satisfying recipe for a late night read.
zeeba More than 1 year ago
Fun and Sweet! Secrets of a Scandalous Heiress is the third books in matchmaker series. This a fun and different historical romance. Theresa Romain has a wonderful sense of humor, her characters are entertaining and one really can feel their pain, suffering and joy.Augusta and Joss's story is a fun and fast read with a mystery and a little blackmail. Thank you Theresa Romain
PureJonel More than 1 year ago
This was definitely a unique story.  Romain brings new life to Bath & the London ton scene with her intricately crafted storyline.  Romain has a subdued tone to her writing.  It almost made me feel as if she were writing in pastels rather than vibrant colours.  At times I felt as if the pace of the story lagged a bit, but never to the extent of losing interest in the story, simply as if it were meandering a little. The interactions between the characters were quite rigid at times, much of this having to do with the social norms of the time.  The main characters flipped back and forth between said constraints and their desires until finally happening upon what works for them.  I quite enjoyed Everett’s character.  He’s quite different from your typical hero in this genre.  I won’t say more to avoid spoilers, but he’s quite the individual.   This novel had an enjoyable but unique storyline but there was something about the author’s writing style that kept me from being fully immersed in the story.   Please note that I received a complimentary copy of this work in exchange for an honest review.
gaele More than 1 year ago
The final installment in Theresa Romain’s Matchmaker Trilogy, and what a fun ride! Set outside of London in Bath, this gives some freedom  from the more rigid society moments so frequent in other historicals.  Augusta is a wonderful heroine, an heiress that is always at the center of one controversy or another, she is on the hunt for a lover – not a husband.  This makes her rather unusual for the time, and her rather matter-of-fact realization of the anachronisms and inappropriate behaviors are not beyond her acknowledgement. Joss is completely aware of just who Augusta is; he sees right through her deceptions but finds her utterly intriguing nonetheless.  Their interactions range from quite clever to wholly inappropriate, and they are both aware, at least in conversation just how odd their relationship is. While not completely ‘traditional’ in romance terms, these two share deeper and more meaningful ideas and concepts than love giving them a more complete understanding and awareness of one another.  I enjoyed these two characters, and their interplay – but I particularly enjoyed Joss’ cousin – a spoilt, alcohol sodden busybody with a bit  too much time on his hands.  His character was thoroughly unapologetic in both his good and bad moments, and often added several  layers of comic relief when the story became tense.  A fun and light historic romance that presented me with a few anachronisms that I had troubles reconciling.  First was slang / language use, which for me is most important in historical fiction. One cannot use modern language and hold the ‘feel’ of the past.  There are certain ‘allowances’ made for behaviors that are more modern in construct, but language should always hold. Secondly is the use of the  handshake: they were not at all popular in England until AFTER the Second World War.  People were terrified of disease and germs, and  that just wasn’t done. Also, mixed classes do NOT shake hands on meeting.  Those of the upper classes may doff their hat, or tip it, but hugs, handshakes and the like are not done when meeting on the street. It would be considered the height of hubris for a working or lower class person to touch or ‘accost the person’ of their betters.  These two issues kept pulling me from the story and interrupted my flow, and did diminish the story engagement. But, for readers who aren’t as fussy about those things, this is a wonderful installment.  I received an eArc copy of the title from the publisher via NetGalley for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review:  all conclusions are my own responsibility. 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love all of Theresa Romain's books, and this one was no exception!  Joss and Augusta are great, both as individuals and as a couple. I particularly like Joss;  witty, snarky heroes are apparently my Kryptonite, because I adored him. I was also really intrigued by his Anglo-Indian back story; it's something I can't recall ever having seen before. They are well matched, and I enjoyed seeing their relationship progress.  I also love love love Emily and will take her any way I can get her; she's got some angst in this story, which is both beautiful and heartbreaking. Lord Sutcliffe was an awesome villain, too, in a "Mozart in Amadeus" sort of way. Thanks, Theresa Romain, for a wonderful, heartwarming story, and for forever changing my perception of the word "dockyard." 
Calaks_joy More than 1 year ago
I love the way this author makes characters are so dimensional! Augusta and Joss were actually admirable, as each was determined to be true to self. And for me, "seeing" Emily again was like visiting with a friend. The descriptions of her grief were compassionate, and I wanted to hug her. But the blackmailer's identity totally surprised me! Did not guess that at all. Good book: thoughtful AND fun!
loverofromance More than 1 year ago
As much as I want to say that loved this story, I am unable to recommend this one. I honestly don’t know if it’s me, but I have the most difficult time with the author. I find that her voice in the story just never seems to catch me in any way. I have tried Theresa Romain out in the past, and never had much success with her stories, which is sad for me, since the blurbs sounds amazing, but I think I just am unable to connect with her stories. It is pretty sad, especially when you find a book you want to enjoy but just can’t. It tends to be very frustrating. I went into this story knowing that I could only give it 50 pages or so. That is my new rule now, because I know if I am going to enjoy a book or be able to get into it once I reach that 50 page mark. I felt like the story had potential, but I just couldn’t see the connection between the characters or able to enjoy the set up very well. I actually gave myself a few days with this story, and just couldn’t get into it and I didn’t want to have to force myself to try to enjoy reading this one, there was no enjoyment for me for this one. I am not sure if I will try this author out again, which is regrettable since I know how many others just love her books. Maybe one day I can try her out again and find a story to love and enjoy. Heartbreaking!
Historical_Romance_Lover More than 1 year ago
This is book 3 in the Matchmaker Trilogy. Heiress Augusta Meredith is in Bath to find a lover. But because of her notoriety, she is posing as the Widow Mrs. Flowers. Hoping to find a lover without anyone else the wiser, she is dismayed to encounter someone from London that she knows. Joss Everett knows who she is and calls her out on her charade. Hoping he will keep her secret, she offers to help him with his task of finding a buyer of some land his is trying to see for his employer. Having already turned down Augusta's offer to be her lover, Joss finds himself becoming more and more attracted to her. Can Augusta keep her identity a secret and find a lover or will the attraction that she feels for Joss consume them both? I really enjoyed the conclusion to Romain's Matchmaker trilogy. I like stories that are in the world of the ton, but feature an unlikely H/H. Romain's addition of a blackmailer just made the story that much more interesting and kept me reading to the very end to see who it was (big surprise!) I also liked that the H/H got to know each other as friends first. Augusta proposed that Joss become her lover and after he turns her down, they proceed to develop a friendship that ultimately lead to love. I'm excited to see what Romain has in store for us next! Thanks go out to Sourcebooks via NetGalley for a copy of the book in exchange of an honest review.
Jasmyn9 More than 1 year ago
This was a really fun book.  While I never quite grasped Augusta's need for a lover - her way of finding one was fun to watch.  Especially once she met Joss.  Their conversations were brilliant and very inappropriate (and they do mention this to each other).  They were so perfect for each other and neither one wanted to admit it.  They were both very proud - at times a little too much for my taste, but not even literary characters should be perfect. Lord Sutcliffe - now there was one crazy person.  As Joss's cousin, employer, and primary reason for being in Bathe, we see him and hear about him quite often.  He's a harmless type of crazy and his little magic tricks and childish enthusiasm were sooo much fun.  He was a great foil to Joss's seriousness.  Even though many of the conversations between Joss and Augusta seemed a bit frivolous, deep down they were really learning some fairly deep things about each other.  While there wasn't too much wooing and courting in this romance, it was one that came about on a much deeper level.  It happened at the level of two like souls finally connecting. *This book was received in exchange for an honest review*