Monday, September 10, 2012

Review: Almost a Scandal by Elizabeth Essex

Sally Kent is on her way to have the grand adventure of a lifetime. She's boarding a ship and sailing off to far-off places -- except it's not supposed to be her adventure, but her brother, Richard's.

The Kents have a long family history of joining the Royal Navy and distinguishing themselves in that career and it is supposed to be Richard Kent's turn -- but he has run away to pursue a different career as a vicar. Sally decides to step in to preserve the family's good name ... and because she wants to.

As the only Kent female, Sally is resigned to a lonely life waiting at home while her father and brothers are all out at sea. Taking Richard's place gives her the chance to see and do what all other Kents see and do, but she doesn't count on being on the same ship as Lieutenant David Colyear, her brother Matthew's best friend, who has grown more handsome and dashing since she last saw him.

But her duty as a Kent comes first and Sally finds that she loves being out at sea more than she could imagine and she's proving to be the best new recruit on the ship -- much to the ire of Damien Gamage, a senior on board the ship who has failed the lieutenancy exam far too many times.

Sally and the younger recruits find themselves the target of Gamage's bullying and thieving and Sally has decided to put a stop to it.

And there are other more important things to deal with: the Audacious is on blockade duty and are patrolling the waters against French and Spanish ships.

So there's danger at sea and danger on board the ship for Sally -- also, Mister Colyear has discovered Sally's secret. Will he keep her secret?

Although it starts out slow (in the first four chapters, they are just docked at the port waiting for their orders), but, like a ship that has caught wind in its sails, the story gains momentum once they've left the port.

I enjoyed reading about the politics of rank and position on board a ship and loved the details about how a ship is managed. I am very impressed with Elizabeth Essex's knowledge of ships.

That being said, I did find myself stopping once in a while to think about the terms being used by the characters in the story -- but it does add authenticity to the adventure of Col and Sally.

I felt a bit sorry for Richard Kent -- I felt he was misunderstood by his family and suffered for it. At one point, Sally refers to his decision to pursue a different career as cowardice (see p. 96) --

It had been she -- Sally. She had been in the back garden with him, sitting on the high orchard wall with him by her side, lobbing apples at Richard for his mealymouthed prating. They had laughed and laughed...
- p. 69

But he is part of Sally's growth while she's on the journey -- from a sister who didn't understand or respect Richard's desires, Sally becomes a sister who cares and supports him; from a person who resorted to childish pranks (see p. 117) to one who stopped to think about her actions and how they will affect the next person. I appreciate how Essex shows this maturity, especially with Sally's relationship with Mister Gamage.

Finally, there is Sally's relationship with Col. Part of the sexual tension comes from the fact that Col knows who Sally is but they cannot act on their attraction for fear of being found out.

"Ever since you came on board you've captured my attention in a way that has" -- he searched for a word -- "unsettled me."
- p. 66

"You just need to be careful. Unless you want Mr. Horner to discover" -- he glanced around the empty cabin, but still lowered his voice -- "certain things, and to be eaten up with lust and longing, and as hard as a belaying pin, then you had best either make sure he is not in his cabin, or extinguish the lantern before you wash yourself."

"Oh." She drew back, belated understanding steeling her spine. "I understand. But does that mean y--" She stopped, and said no more, but she couldn't stop her eyes from shying down his frame, or keep her face from flaming with a heat that swept downward over her neck like a trail of fire.

But he knew what she had not asked.
- p. 171

My one other complaint is that Essex builds up the Kent Family too much in this story -- the reader is constantly reminded of how amazing all the Kents are as Navy men -- and I had expected this series to be about the rest of Kents. I was surprised (and delighted) to read that the next story will be about Will Jellicoe, one of the young recruits Sally befriends on the Audacious.

Almost a Scandal is the first book in The Reckless Bride series by Elizabeth Essex. The next book, A Breath of Scandal will be released December 2012.

To find out more of Elizabeth Essex and her books, visit her website. She's also on Facebook.


  1. Hi, Trudy!

    Thank you for dropping by! It's an interesting story -- Readers who love ships and sailing would find this especially exciting. ^_^



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