Scandal begins with just one kiss. . .
Aurora Paxton was once the belle of the ball, the most sought-after debutante of the seasonuntil a scandalous mistake ruined her.Shunned by her family, Rory was banished to the country to live in disgrace. Now she’s been summoned back to London by her stepmother, who is being blackmailed by the least likely person Rory can imagine: Lucas Vale, Marquess of Dashell.
Lucas is someone Rory’s known for yearsa man as devastatingly handsome as he is coldly disapproving of her. What in the world could he want from her or her family? Rory intends to find out as soon as she comes face to face with her old foe. What she never expects, however, is that the icy aristocrat has a soft spot for herand a secret plan to redeem her status. Could it be that Lucas has been in love with Rory all along. . .and has finally found a way to win her heart?
The Scandalous Flirt by Olivia Drake is a sweeping Regency romance you won't be able to put down!
The Cinderella Sisterhood series is:
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“Magical.”Once Upon a Romance
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The merest breath of scandal can ruin a lady.
— MISS CELLANY
If Lady Milford hadn't received a last-minute invitation to dine with a member of the royal family, she might never have gone to the bank so late in the day. And she would never have found the next young lady who deserved to wear the enchanted slippers.
As she entered the bank, Clarissa shivered from a blast of chilly April wind. Heavy clouds darkened the skies and hastened the onset of dusk. It would be a good night to remain at home in front of a fire. But she was not yet so ancient as to huddle in a rocking chair with a rug over her knees. Besides, one did not ignore a summons to St. James's Palace. Nor did one wear ordinary jewels like those she kept in a strongbox at home. This grand occasion called for her most prized tiara.
Gas lamps had been lit inside the bank. The light cast a warm glow over the polished oak counters along the walls, and the caged stations where tellers served the last few customers. It was nearly closing time.
A middle-aged bank manager in a black suit swooped toward Clarissa. A set of keys jangled at his stout waist. He bowed, revealing sparse brown hair combed over a balding pate. "My dear Lady Milford. How may I assist you?" "Good afternoon, Mr. Talbot. I should like to access my deposit box."
He ushered her toward a door where she paused to sign the register before entering the vault with its walls of iron drawers. Selecting a key from his ring, Talbot unlocked a numbered strongbox, carried it to a small private chamber, and set it on a table. Then he left Clarissa alone with her valuables.
The box contained various legal documents along with a selection of her costliest jewels. Picking up a black velvet pouch, she opened the drawstring to gaze down at a magnificent tiara. Diamonds in a honeycomb pattern winked in the golden light of the lamp. The centerpiece was a large teardrop diamond in a rare violet hue. It was a perfect match for her eyes ... or so her dear prince had proclaimed upon giving her the tiara all those years ago.
A wistful smile played upon her lips. How she missed him. He had been her ardent lover for too brief a time ... She tucked the tiara into her reticule. Her mind occupied with nostalgic memories, she stepped back into the main vault to inform the manager that she was done. All of a sudden, the door to an adjoining private chamber burst open. Someone rushed out at her.
Clarissa had only half a second to brace herself before the stranger collided with her. She managed to maintain her balance, but her assailant was not so fortunate.
The woman stumbled backward into the door frame. A little box slipped from her kid-gloved fingers and fell with a crash. The golden casket sprang open and a strand of diamonds spilled onto the black marble floor.
"Oh, gracious!" she squeaked.
She bent down to snatch up the casket, stuffing the necklace back into its velvet-lined container. She was a rather buxom woman draped in the latest stare of fashion: a hip-length mantle in claret cashmere over an apple-green gown with several rows of ruffles circling the hem. The gauzy veil of her bonnet partially obscured her features, but as the woman stood up, Clarissa could see sausage-curled fair hair, wide blue eyes, and mature features.
There was something familiar about that face ... The woman dipped a quick curtsy. "My lady! I — I do beg your pardon." With that, she hurried out of the vault and into the lobby of the bank.
My lady. Clarissa could only presume the woman had recognized her. Who was she?
Clarissa followed at a more measured pace, her gaze fixed on the stranger ahead of her. The swift clicking of the woman's heels echoed in the high-ceilinged chamber. She appeared agitated, almost nervous. A guard opened the door and she vanished from the bank.
Mrs. Kitty Paxton. Yes, that was her name.
Although Clarissa knew everyone in society, she had only a nodding acquaintance with Mrs. Paxton. They moved in different circles, not merely because of Clarissa's elevated stature as the widow of an earl, but because she preferred to converse about weighty topics like politics and literature. Mrs. Paxton was a shallow gossipmonger who could speak only of fashion and the latest tittle-tattle. Her daughter recently had become engaged to the Duke of Whittingham. Clarissa had seen the betrothal announcement a few days ago in the newspaper.
Heading across the bank lobby, she frowned. There had been an older daughter, too, hadn't there? A stepdaughter who had made her debut some seven or eight years ago ... Miss Aurora Paxton.
Clarissa recalled a lively debutante with glossy black hair and sparkling brown eyes, one of those rare girls blessed with both beauty and wit. In spite of her modest dowry, she'd possessed a vivacity and charm that had attracted a bevy of gentlemen admirers. She had exhibited a generosity of spirit, too. Clarissa recalled an incident at a ball when another girl had tripped and fallen on the dance floor, and Miss Paxton had been the first to rush to her aid, offering friendly chatter to allay the girl's obvious embarrassment.
Miss Paxton should have received numerous marriage proposals. Yet something had happened in the middle of the season. She had become entangled in a scandal with a foreign diplomat and had been banished for her indiscretion. Clarissa had never again glimpsed the girl in London society.
Where had Miss Paxton gone? What was her situation now? Had she been consigned to the dreary life of a disgraced spinster?
A spark of interest energized Clarissa. Given her own experience with a stepmother, she had a natural empathy for the girl. She knew what it was like to be unloved, unwanted, abandoned. Long ago, upon the death of her well-to-do father, Clarissa had been exiled by her stepmother to the kitchen to work as a servant. One night, a gypsy beggar had come to the back door. Clarissa had taken pity on the poor woman and fed her a hot meal, and in return had been given a pair of enchanted slippers that would lead the wearer to her true love. The shoes had certainly worked well for Clarissa and her prince. Ever since, she had made it her mission to help deserving girls in difficult situations.
Miss Aurora Paxton was the perfect prospect. Now would be a good time to have a word with Mrs. Paxton about the fate of her missing stepdaughter.
Clarissa hastened out of the bank. The dark clouds spat out a few icy raindrops as she glanced up and down the road. At this late hour, traffic had slowed to a trickle. Only a few hackney cabs rumbled over the cobblestones. Workmen headed home after a long day's labor, and the local shops were closing for the night. A lamp man trudged along the pavement, lighting the occasional gas lamp, the golden orbs shining through the fine mist.
Only a minute or two had elapsed. Yet Kitty Paxton was nowhere in sight.
Clarissa proceeded to the carriage parked at the curbstone. The coachman sat on the high seat, hunched in his greatcoat. Another servant stood by the carriage door, his shoulders squared, his husky form ramrod stiff. A thatch of salty cropped hair topped his weathered face.
Clarissa stopped in front of him. "Hargrove, did you see a veiled woman depart the bank just now?"
"Indeed, my lady."
"Where did she go so quickly? I don't see any other carriages, only hackneys."
"She was on foot."
"Walking? In this neighborhood? Why, Mrs. Paxton had a valuable necklace in her possession!"
"She went around that corner." He inclined his head toward the left. "Shall I follow her?"
"I'll accompany you."
They started down the street. Clarissa was glad for Hargrove's presence. He was more than a butler; he was her most trusted servant. She always brought him along whenever she visited the bank. With his military background, he served as her bodyguard and even her spy from time to time. He could be depended upon to use the utmost discretion.
Disquiet coiled in the pit of her stomach. Mrs. Paxton ought to know better than to proceed on foot in a business district at this hour. Ruffians abounded in the city. Something wasn't right, and Clarissa felt an obligation to assure herself of the woman's safety.
They turned the corner. Shadows cloaked the deserted side street. At the far end, a carriage and coachman waited. Perhaps the vehicle belonged to Mrs. Paxton since she was nowhere in sight.
"We must have missed her," Clarissa said, disappointed. She would have welcomed the chance to inquire about the woman's disgraced stepdaughter.
"There," Hargrove muttered. "By those bushes."
Stopping beside him, she peered down the street. A buxom figure lurked in the gloom underneath a tree. Clarissa would never have noticed without Hargrove's sharp eyes.
As they watched, Mrs. Paxton bent down to slip an object underneath the shrubbery. The dull glint of gold revealed it to be a small box. Then she scurried away down the street and stepped into the waiting carriage, which departed to a clattering of wheels.
"What on earth?" Clarissa said. "That must be her diamond necklace. I recognize the box."
How very peculiar. Why would Mrs. Paxton leave a costly piece of jewelry under a bush? And behave in such a clandestine manner? Was that the reason she had seemed so agitated inside the bank?
No sooner had those thoughts flitted through Clarissa's mind than the cloaked figure of a man emerged from a nearby building. At once, Hargrove drew her into the shadows of a doorway. The fellow snatched up the gold box and slipped it into his pocket, then hurried away.
"He's stealing it!" she exclaimed as he vanished from sight.
"No," Hargrove said. "It was left for him. A payment, possibly."
"Do you mean blackmail?"
"Perhaps. Shall I go after him, my lady?"
Clarissa thought for a moment. Into what manner of intrigue had they stumbled? "No. We shan't interfere. Better I should call on Mrs. Paxton tomorrow and find out what I can."
And hopefully she could use the incident as leverage to bring Miss Aurora Paxton back to London.
Gossips gleefully whisper their tittle-tattle with little care for the lives they ruin.
— MISS CELLANY
"Aurora Anne Paxton, wait! You mustn't toss that out!"
The raspy voice came from behind Rory. She had just lugged an old spinning wheel down from the attic. Setting the heavy burden at the head of the staircase, she turned to see Aunt Bernice hurrying out of her bedchamber.
Bernice must be truly distressed. She only called Rory by her full name when she meant business.
They had spent the morning engaged in a spring cleaning of the garret. Their purpose was to find items to donate to the upcoming jumble sale at the village church. Despite the work of several hours, however, the pile of castoffs in the foyer below remained pitifully small.
Bernice had trouble discarding anything. Threadbare petticoats were cut up for handkerchiefs and dust rags. Candle stubs were melted to create new tapers. Broken chairs and shelves were chopped up for firewood. Bernice's thrifty nature was as much a part of her as the robust figure clad in cheap black bombazine. A tall woman, she wore her thinning salt-and-pepper hair scraped back into a knob beneath a white widow's cap. Despite her fifty-eight years, she was as strong as an ox and just as stubborn.
Rory recognized the determined look on Bernice's craggy face. She loved her aunt, but as always, she swore herself to patience.
"There's no point in keeping it, Auntie." She pointed to the base of the spinning wheel, where the foot pedal had come loose from the bar that ran the length of the machine. "The treadle is broken. See?"
"Surely it can be mended!"
"Only think of the expense. It would be a pity to pay for repairs. I can't begin to guess what that would cost."
"Cost? I shan't lay out so much as a ha'penny. I shall ask Murdock to take a look at it. I'm sure he can have it shipshape in no time."
Murdock was their handyman, gardener, and sometime butler. Alas, Bernice had a more optimistic view of his skills than did Rory. The doddering old fellow had a habit of nipping at a jug of rum. Most afternoons, he could be found snoozing in the pantry or the garden shed. If they didn't dispose of the spinning wheel right now, it would end up in a stash of other damaged items that awaited repair in the cellar.
Rory had no wish to move broken items from one spot to another. It was a constant battle to prevent her aunt from accumulating more junk. That task often took a bit of diplomacy.
"The church is in dire need of contributions for the sale. You would like for us to do our part for the roof repair fund, wouldn't you?" Rory said, playing to Bernice's frugal nature. "Unless, of course, you'd prefer to make a monetary donation."
The mention of hard cash did the trick.
Bernice blew out a sigh. "I daresay we can spare this one item. It grieves me, though, to think we might have been spinning our own yarn all these years." She glanced hopefully toward the steep steps to the attic. "Perhaps there's a loom up there."
"No, there isn't." Thank goodness, too. Though Rory had been forced to practice economies since leaving London, she drew the line at weaving her own cloth. To distract her aunt from that direction of thought, she added, "Will you help me take this downstairs, please? It's rather heavy."
She grabbed one end of the spinning wheel, while her aunt took the other. Together they carried the awkward burden down the staircase, being careful not to bump the paneled wall or the ancient oak railing.
It would be nice to have new gowns, Rory reflected, though not made of rough homespun. She recently had embarked on a scheme to earn some pocket money, but it would be necessary to make do with her tattered wardrobe for a little while longer. Nevertheless, she missed the joy of shopping for silks and muslins, feathered bonnets and satin slippers.
She quashed a pang of regret. That life was over now. There was no need to follow fashion when one had been banished to the desolate coast of Norfolk to live in a stone cottage overlooking the sea. Her gowns had been mended and hemmed and patched, remnants of her debut season, when she had been caught in an indecent embrace with a dashing Italian diplomat. She still cringed to recall her naïveté in believing his ardent professions of love ...
A loud rapping on the front door snapped Rory out of her reverie. The sound resonated through the foyer, rattling the old paintings on the walls.
Bernice fumbled her end of the spinning wheel. "Bilge and scurvy, who's that?"
Rory made haste to help her aunt. As she reached out to grab the spindle, a sharp pinch assailed her forefinger. The sting made her wince, but she grasped tightly to the spinning wheel, helping her aunt navigate down the last few steps so they could set the machine beside the small pile of their contributions to the rummage sale.
Bernice frowned at the wood panel of the door. "Fathom that, a visitor, all the way out here! Who could it be —" Her brown eyes focused on her niece. "Why, have you hurt yourself?"
Rory was examining her forefinger. A drop of blood beaded on the tip, and she used a corner of her apron to blot the throbbing spot. "I pricked myself on the spindle, that's all."
"Just like Sleeping Beauty, eh?" Despite her crusty exterior, Bernice had a soft spot for fairy-tale romance. "Well, perhaps that explains it, then."
"Your Prince Charming has arrived to give you true love's kiss."
"If you're referring to Mr. Nesbitt, I should certainly hope not!"
"Hmm. I can't think of anyone else who would drive three miles from the village to call on us."
The expectant stare she cast at her niece was sufficient to lure Rory's attention from her injured digit. "It can't be him. I hinted rather broadly last Sunday after church that I'm not interested in his courtship. He's far too young for me."
"Only by four years. Mr. Nesbitt might be a mere two-and-twenty, but he's not hard on the eyes and he owns three hundred acres of prime farmland. One of the other girls will snatch him up if you don't."
Mr. Nesbitt was indeed agreeable, handsome, and the most eligible bachelor in this little corner of England. But Rory had had enough of fine gentlemen to last a lifetime. "He still has peach fuzz on his face, for pity's sake. Besides, I'm perfectly happy living here with you, Auntie."
Bernice clucked her tongue. "I can't deny you've been my boon companion these past eight years. But every woman needs a loving husband to be her port in a storm. You'd realize that if only you were to meet a man as wonderful as my dear Ollie."
Excerpted from "The Scandalous Flirt"
Copyright © 2017 Barbara Dawson Smith.
Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
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.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
During her debut season, Aurora was involved in a scandal that nearly ruined her family. Rushed off to the country, she’s made a life for herself with the new ‘limited’ options, even as her tendency to speak her mind hasn’t changed much. But, a new scandal threatens her family, and she’s brought back to London to see if she can’t find a solution. Hired as a companion to the suspected blackmailer’s mother, Aurora will be singularly placed to find the culprit. Lucas, newly minted Marquess of Dashell is struggling to keep things on track, with an heiress he’s courting and a rather mercenary approach to marriage and his own happiness being unimportant – he’s a bit of a cold fish, and not particularly engaging. But, it’s also very clear that he’s not the blackmailer that Aurora was led to believe, and their cooperation to find the real culprit is now aided and manipulated a touch by his mother and her aunt. The second I’ve read in this series – the references to Sleeping Beauty are far between and more emotional in nature – the two are closed off from their emotions. He’s believing that emotion has no part in his life, hers are rather immature and erratic – and the two together have some moments that are clever –but miscommunication, his bad behavior and the overall feeling that these two were thrust together without really establishing either as a viable primary character was the overwhelming feeling I was left with. Both Rory’s aunt and Lucas’ mother were far more intriguing as people, and their determination to see the best for the couple was apparent – if not always apparent to readers. Quick reading, solid descriptions and clever twists to unveil the blackmailer, this was a decent read, but not imbued with the feeling that would leave me believing that love would conquer the differences between them, or that they were meant to be together forever. 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.
The Scandalous Flirt by Olivia Drake is a historical romance novel filled with intrigue, drama, memorable characters and of course, romance. A chance encounter at the bank leaves the indomitable Lady Milford wondering after the current state of affairs of Miss Aurora Paxton whose debut season had ended in scandal eight years previous. When she further learns that Aurora's step-mother is being blackmailed, Lady Milford hatches a plan to bring Rory back to London and restart the live of the former debutante that she remembers fondly. Aurora had been caught en flagrante delicto and labeled as a scandalous flirt and banished to live in the country with her aunt. When she returns to London we learn more of her less than stellar relationship with her step-mother but is able to find a compromise in order to preserve the reputation of her sister who is engaged to a Duke. When Rory takes the position in the household of Lucas Vale, Marquess of Dashell in order to investigate if he is the blackmailer she learns that there is more to Lucas than his reserved exterior. I liked Rory very much as a character, she is strong and unwilling to give in. She provides a strong counter point to her described younger self as well as her sister, one of experience and assertiveness. Lucas has depths and memories that are drawn out as we learn more about him. The back and forth between these two characters, both flirtatious and intelectual, was fun and dynamic. Most secrets between them don't last too long and that is good since each is smart, quick witted and a match for the other. Overall, I recommend The Scandalous Flirt by Olivia Drake with an interesting plot that does not overwhelm the character development, I enjoyed reading it very much. Absolutely a page turner with new tidbits of intrigue sprinkled throughout. (I voluntarily reviewed an ARC of this book I received via NetGalley for free in exchange for my open and honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.)
The writing of the story of Aurora and Lucas is strong and their characters are well developed. I liked Rory well enough and while I liked Lucas, I didn't love him. The mystery holds the characters and the story together. The books is enjoyable enough. I would recommend this to anyone who doesn't like a lot of steam in their romance but likes the writing and characters to be crisp.
The Scandalous Flirt by Olivia Drake is an amazing, well-written book. Ms Drake has furnished her story with phenomenal characters. The characters made this book a joy to read. Lucas and Rory's story is full of drama, suspense, adventure and sizzle. Be warned though, the housework may be put on hold. Once you start this book you may not want to put it down. I enjoyed this book from start to finish and look forward to reading more from Olivia Drake in the future. The Scandalous Flirt is book 6 of the Cinderella Sisterhood Series but can be read as a standalone. This is a complete book, not a cliff-hanger. I voluntarily read an Advance Reader Copy of this book that I received from NetGalley.
Scandal begins with just one kiss. . . Aurora Paxton was once the belle of the ball, the most sought-after debutante of the season―until a scandalous mistake ruined her. Shunned by her family, Rory was banished to the country to live in disgrace. Now she’s been summoned back to London by her stepmother, who is being blackmailed by the least likely person Rory can imagine: Lucas Vale, Marquess of Dashell. Lucas is someone Rory’s known for years―a man as devastatingly handsome as he is coldly disapproving of her. What in the world could he want from her or her family? Rory intends to find out as soon as she comes face to face with her old foe. What she never expects, however, is that the icy aristocrat has a soft spot for her―and a secret plan to redeem her status. Could it be that Lucas has been in love with Rory all along. . .and has finally found a way to win her heart? Review: This was a week of historical romances for me, don't know why but it just worked out that I read four this weeks releases. I had not read this Author before and really enjoyed her storytelling. Not a lot different in this historical romances than in others. A few things that made it interesting and kept me engaged with the story and its characters were... I liked the whole Cinderella/fairy godmother aspect to the shoes and getting Rory back into society. I liked the mystery behind the missing letters and the bribery. Rory, her Aunt and Lucas' mother were fun to read. Lucas comes off as kind of a jerk, I get where he is coming from, but for most of the story I did not like him alot. Good story, entertaining and quick to read, good for curling up when the weather is bad. Like I said I had not read this Author before and of course I started out with book six in the series....I always seem to do this. I will say I was never lost and reading out of order did not hurt my liking of the book. I am curious to see if the red shoes are all the way through the series or not though. I will have to go back and start at book #1. 3.5Stars *I voluntarily read an advance reader copy of this book provided by the publisher.*
Received an ARC for my fair review for netgalley. Sorry folks but this is not a romance book, no way. Lucas was a horrible person, he claimed he loved the heroine yet forgot about her for 8 years? huh and then, when she does come back you are not even nice to her..no no no. Aurora get some self respect.., even though she also annoyed me.
Miss Aurora Anne Paxton is a ruined woman and has spent eight years in the country with her aunt. Her stepmother calls her back to London, to handle a problem for her. Lord Lucas Vale, fifth Marquess of Dashell, has decided to marry Alice Kipling, she is an heiress and he needs to pay his debts. This a sweet tale with a few twists, almost like Sleeping Beauty. It is a wonderful story of wanting to help, looking for the articles, and finding the guilty parties. It is warm hearted but there is intrigue, also. Who has stolen the letters? So many suspects. The author has done a marvelous job of bringing all the aspects and loves together. Weaving them into a smooth, even paced and hard to put down book. If you want to be entertained, this is a great story, to do so with. I received this ARC from Net Galley and voluntarily reviewed
This is a very good romance(not Christian). This is a fast read. I really enjoyed reading about Rory and Lucas. I love reading about independent women. You do not need to read the first 5 books in the series to enjoy this book. I received this ebook from Netgalley for a fair and honest opinion that I gave of my own free will.
aurora paxton left london in disgrace eight years before the events in the scandalous flirt. at the time she had no idea what lucas vale, lord dashell thought of her, though given his attitude the one time they danced, she figured he found her contemptible. turns out that lucas has quite the poker face, because back then all he wanted was to bask in the heat of rory's smile. lucas and rory dance around their attraction as they search for a packet of letters that would implicate rory's stepmother and lucas's father. the truth hidden in those letters proves to be quite the bombshell. one that highlights a lot of the hypocrisy in the attitudes of victorian society. rory is an independent-minded female and her strength of mind and beliefs contrast nicely with lucas's innate sense of decorum and his fair-mindedness. he is more accepting of things than he actually appears to be, in part because he's been born and bred and a key member of society and in part because his prudishness is a reaction to his father's debauchery. but the more time rory and lucas spend together the harder it is to deny their connection. the problem then is how will they ever be able to afford running off together. especially given how british society at the time was particularly transactional. i just complained about the feminism in the bride that got lucky, but the social commentary in the scandalous flirt is so much more effective. rory doesn't shy away from her beliefs, but she's also a realist. she knows and understands how society works, she doesn't agree with it, but she also isn't petulant about it. this makes it much easier to read. **the scandalous flirt will publish on october 31, 2017. i received an advance reader copy courtesy of netgalley/st. martin's press in exchange for my honest review.
The Scandalous Flirt I love Olivia Drakes books, her writing style is fabulous, and always keeps me intrigued. This particular story "The Scandalous Flirt" has a slightly different formula from the others. I enjoyed the mystery and the plot, but in my opinion, there wasn't even a smidge of chemistry between the H/h. I am not even sure I liked Lucas, the hero. While he cared deeply for others in the story, he was reluctant to admit his feelings for Rory, the heroine, for almost the entire novel. "The Scandalous Flirt" was fun to read, I would not classify it as a romance novel.
The Scandalous Flirt by Olivia Drake is book Six in the "Cinderella Sisterhood" series. This is the story of Aurora Paxton and Lucas Vale, Marquess of Dashell. I have read the previous book but feel this is easily a standalone book .After a terrible mistake Aurora was shunned from the town and her family. But now she is being called back home to help with an issue that has come forward. It seems her step mother is being blacked mailed and her much loved half sister may be hurt by the scandal if not stopped. Lucas was a hard hero to love for sure. He is out to get himself a heiress to save his estate but yet he keeps going toward Aurora. But at the same time he is really harsh with Aurora. But through it all they do end up finding their ending.
The Scandalous Flirt by Olivia Drake Cinderella Sisterhood #6 Loosely based on a number of fairytales I noticed: *Magic Slippers (Ruby Colored) *Spinning wheel with sharp finger pricking spindle *Evil stepmother *Stepsister (not as evil as Cinderella’s) *Fairy Godmother type person *A woman that reminded me of the bedridden woman in the Pollyanna movie *And perhaps more This story was entertaining but not terribly deep with Aurora “Rory” Paxton being banished to the country for an indiscretion. She was away for almost a decade before being brought back to solve a mystery. She finds her sister betrothed to a person she has no business ending up with, the clueless stepmother, the guy that is not really prince charming but an okay guy, a few balls to attend, the man she was indiscreet reappearing, a blackmailing plot…and more…I did not relate to any of the characters…not really…but did finish the book. Thank you to NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press for the ARC – This is my honest review. 3 Stars
I had trouble getting into this one. It started out slow and didn't pick up until chapter 9 when she is caught in his bed chamber looking for the letters. Once they team up to find the letters and blackmailer, the story does get better. Their romance was slow to start and there were some surprise villains and twists to who stole the letters and with her half sister Celeste. The surprises kept it interesting and book ended well. Lucas was a strong male lead and his dilemma about whether he should marry the woman he has loved for years even though she is poor, or marry an heiress in order to save his family added some suspense to the plot. I can't say it was my favorite story I've read this year but it was enjoyable.
Intriguing, Witty & Entertaining Romance! This is my first story by Olivia Drake and it definitely wont be my last. This story was filled with scandal, blackmail, intrigue, and danger. But what really brings it to life is the witty dialogue, the attraction, passion and love, of the main characters. Incredibly well written, with well developed characters, that felt so real, and who’s story captured and held my attention until the end. Blackmail with the possibility of scandal to their family’s, brings these two together, to find the letters that were stolen. But witty conversations, past desires and a pair or magic slippers just might be enough to bring Rory and Lucas together. But will it be enough to bring them love? Time will tell, as danger and betrayal, just might be enough to help them realize what is in their hearts. This story is entertaining, intriguing and quite the adventure. You will be wrapped up into this fantastic story. The romance sizzles, the suspense builds, and the ending is thoroughly satisfying. Loved this Story! Received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley and voluntarily wrote an honest review
This is the first time I e read one of Olivia’s books. It was a very enjoyable read. Rory and Lucas set out to unravel the one mystery and end up unraveling many more. The fairy godmother was an added bonus along with all the happy ever afters.
Lady Clarissa Milford, the widow of an Earl, is going into the bank on this chilly day to get her tiara to wear to a soiree at St. James Palace. As she is leaving the vault in the bank, a woman drops a strand of diamonds on the floor. Immediately picking them up, the woman scurries away but not before noticing Clarissa and addressing her as My Lady. Clarissa recognizes the woman and remembers her name - Mrs. Kitty Paxton. Although she doesn’t know the woman personally, she does know that she is the mother of two daughters and is a bit of a gossip. Clarissa confronts Kitty who admits that she is being blackmailed. Kitty's stepdaughter is Aurora (Rory) Paxton, a lovely girl who made her debut 7-8 years ago. She became involved in a scandal which left her banished and has not been seen again. Clarissa wonders what happened to Rory as she also knows what it is like to be at the mercy of a stepmother, so she decides to find her and help her. Rory is living with her tightfisted but kind aunt. Rory enjoys writing essays about modern society under the name, Miss Cellany. Clarissa shows up unexpectedly and tells Rory that her stepmother is being blackmailed. Kitty believes that Lucas Vale stole some love letters from her and is now blackmailing her. As much as she does not care for Kitty, Clarissa agrees to return to London. The big reason she wants to be there is because she wants to help her sister who is to wed the Duke of Whittingham and she doesn’t want to see the scandal of blackmail ruin that for her sister. Before leaving for London, Clarissa gives Rory a pair of elegant dancing slippers telling her that she is only to borrow them for a time. Lucas Vale, age 32, the fifth Marquess of Dashell, has decided to ask Miss Alice Kipling to marry him. She is a lovely young woman and quite rich. Lucas needs her money to settle his debts. Rory calls upon Lucas requesting the position of companion for his ailing mother. Aware of her misdeeds, he refuses. But knowing his mother’s bad temper, Rory convinces him that she can handle her and gets the job. After searching his home, Rory realizes it is not his handwriting on the blackmail notes. When Lucas catches her and she confesses why she is there, they agree to work together to find the real blackmailer. But can they work together without falling in love? What was the scandal that ended up banishing Rory for so many years? Rory is a bit of a twit thinking she can do what she wants without getting harmed in some way. This “tough woman” attitude is a bit of a turn off for me. Copy provided by NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.
“The merest breath of scandal can ruin a lady” - Miss Cellany. This book has a definite fairytale quality to it. A fairy godmother, magic slippers and a finger pricked on a spinning wheel are all woven into the first two chapters. Add to this a young woman who has been banished for 8 years having been duped by a married man; blackmail, radical opinions, gambling debts, a Duke and a Marquess. An enthralling read. I received a complimentary copy of this book from NetGalley. I was not compensated for my review, and I was not required to write a positive review. The opinion expressed here is my own.
I really enjoyed Aurora and Lucas's story. You've got a bit of intrigue thrown into our romance story which is always a plus in my book. Aurora was attracted to Lucas when she had her coming out, but her once dance with him made her believe that he didn't like her in the least. So when she ends up taking a position as his mother's companion, she sees a side of him that she didn't glimpse during their short interlude. Lucas has been attracted to Aurora since their one dance so long ago, but being tongue tied during their dance didn't leave a very good impression. He is about to get engaged, but the more time he spends with Aurora, he just doesn't find the time to speak to girl's father. Being thrown together makes Aurora and Lucas see each other in a new light. Can they find their HEA with each other?
Thank you NetGalley for the ARC! I was tossed on this book for liking vs meh until the end. Rory is sent away for 8 years for an "indiscretion" that ruined her name. She has a step-mother named Kitty (seriously?) who for all intents and purposes hates her and a step-sister (Celeste aka Ce-Ce) that Rory adores. Kitty has some letters stolen that could ruin the family and Celeste's chances of marriage to a duke twice her age if found out. Lucas is trying to bring the family back from financial ruin the only way possible, marriage to an heiress. The story line was cute and did hold my attention, but the amount of detail the author went into with descriptions of everything (places and feelings) had me skimming paragraphs as I read through. Of course we have an HEA at the end with everyone sorted, I just wish the protagonists would have suffered a bit more.
This book was okay. Main characters lacked chemistry.