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A love interrupted: Isabel and Nathaniel were in love and were all set to marry after Nathaniel's return from his trip for the war office, but Isabel's ambitious parents had set their sights higher and wed her to the Duke of Brimley. Isabel endured a loveless marriage and a faithless husband but it all came to an end when her husband was killed in a duel.
Now Isabel is a widow and Nathaniel is back, hoping to rekindle the love they shared before -- but Isabel is being threatened by her late husband's enemy and her plans of escape to Vauxhall and Bath take a scandalous turn when Nathaniel decides to accompany her.
There are a lot of obstacles in our hero and heroine's way to love:
1. Nathaniel's mother is against the match.
2. Isabel's reputation isn't exactly pristine because of her husband's philandering -- and her finances aren't very solid.
3. There is already an understanding between Nathaniel's mother and Lady Eloise Morton.
4. The Duke of Downsbury, the man Isabel's husband cuckolded, will stop at nothing to make Isabel pay for her late husband's sins.
This is a story with a promising premise: I loved that Nathaniel has waited for Isabel all these years and wants to marry her, despite the scandalous death of her husband. His initial intention was to court her properly but, circumstances have led them to a more unconventional path of courtship.
Isabel felt him pulling her closer as his arm at the small of her back pushed her in. His head dipped down, and, naturally, she looked up at him, ignoring every stare and whisper as they moved together. She finally cringed and mustered the courage to ask him the one thing weighing heavily on her mind. "Why did you take so long? Why didn't you come sooner? Nathaniel, there hasn't been a day I haven't thought of you."
As the music wound down and the dancers departed, Isabel locked her eyes on his and felt a tear escape. "You've been missed greatly, My Lord."
His thumb swiped away the drop. "My dear, there hasn't been a day, hour, or dream you haven't occupied."
- pp. 13-14
I had problems with the narrative time and the abruptness in which the author moves time forward. Chapter 1 begins with Isabel pondering her current situation and ends with news of the duel between her husband and the Duke of Downsbury. Chapter 2 is six months later and Isabel is leaving London to avoid the wrath of the Duke of Downsbury -- she travels to Vauxhall and Bath with her friends, the Turners and Nathaniel. Chapter 6 confused me a bit, when Isabel finds herself in an "interesting" position and her stomach is already "burgeoning" (p. 79) in Chapter 7.
I wish the author took the time to flesh out some details: Isabel's dire financial straits is hinted upon and we only see a glimpse of how badly-off she is when it is her housekeeper who serves her and it seems she only has a butler. But, in a later chapter, when she is talking to her staff, it seems that she has some money because she has promised to see them all settled.
1. Why is Nathaniel's mother referred to as the Dowager Countess but Nathaniel is a Marquess?
2. Why was Isabel worried that Nathaniel would not be allowed in the House of Lords after a blind item about them appeared in the newspaper? (p. 52)
3. Why didn't the Duke of Downsbury flee after he killed Isabel's husband in a duel? Wasn't dueling illegal then? Then he engages in a second duel with Nathaniel.
4. What happened to Isabel's husband's heir? Is there an heir?
At 94 pages, this was a quick read and the author does a good job in showing how mad for gossip and scandal the Ton was during the Regency -- how valuable public opinion was. The romance between Isabel and Nathaniel and the rekindled romance of the two starts and ends well -- but the middle part of the book needs a bit more attention.
Scandal at Vauxhall is the first book in Layna Pimentel's Pleasure Garden Follies. To find out more about the author and her books, click below:
Disclosure: I received this book from the tour organizer as part of the book tour. Thank you to CBLS Promotions and to Layna Pimentel for the opportunity. Yes, this is an honest review.