Invitation to Scandal by Bronwen Evans
May 1, 2012
Reviewed by Mandi
Viscount Strathmore, better known as Rufus Knight, wants to redeem his family’s honor. Rumors that his father committed treason combined with his suspicious death in the woods makes Rufus committed to uncovering the secrets of his father’s fall from grace and death. And there is one person whom he thinks holds this information – someone that goes by the name, Dark Shadow. This mysterious person is a smuggler who he thinks will lead him to a dangerous French spy who could tell Rufus what the real deal behind his father was.
Rufus has a small breakthrough when he comes across a woman who is pinned to a tree by a rum barrel. Knowing she is probably smuggling this in, if he can convince her to tell her the source of this barrel, that would lead him to a ring of smugglers who would hopefully have information on who the Dark Shadow really is. The problem is Rheda Kerrich is not cooperative. She has no desire to tell this man any of her secrets, knowing her secrets could get her and other people into a lot of trouble. Rufus decides seduction is the best method to get Rheda to share her secrets. But she has had her fair share of scandal, with rumors flying about that she lost her virtue with a prince, Sultan Hammed a while ago after he left her two beautiful horses. These two butt head (okay, and other body parts) in a battle of who can be the most stubborn and most alluring.
There is a lot happening in Invitation to Scandal. I enjoy the theme of smuggling and that Rheda has a lot of secrets to keep in relation to that. I don’t want to divulge too much about these secrets, but it gives the story a little bit more of an adventure feel.
A lot of this book is Rufus all hot and horny for Rheda. I mean, from the moment he sees her pinned against a tree, he is ready to take her. Rufus was once betrayed by a lady he loved, so he is cautious (or should be!) when entering into another relationship with a woman he doesn’t really know. He tries to make a deal with her, that he will give his prize stallion to her to mate with her beloved mares, if she will ‘service’ him anytime day or night he is in the mood. Let me note that Rheda secretly had Rufus’s stallion mate with her horse and then he found out and got angry. She basically owes him something for this service. Does she owe him sex at his whim? I didn’t really love that scenario (neither does Rheda) and she kind of gets around it.
While this book has a lot of sexual overtones in it, I had a hard time believing in a romance between these two. They both were attracted to the other, but the sex has more of an angry feel to it. Also, I’m not sure I love how they first have sex:
This was not how she’d imagined her first time would be – certainly not her first time with him. His mouth took hers in a bruising kiss. His tongue probed her tight lips, forcing his way in. Invading. Punishing.
Rheda knew she deserved to be chastised. She’d teased this man. Pushed him to do something she knew he’d never forgive himself for. Or her.
If Rufus discovered he’d raped an innocent it would destroy him. He had no idea who she really was. No idea that the rumors about her and the prince were false. She had never professed her innocence. Now he was going to pay the price for her pride.
She had to help him. Perhaps if he understood she truly wanted him, he’d not feel so guilty over what he was about to do. She might even be able to hide her virginity from him; if she made it plain she welcomed her ravishment.
So basically she is saying, Rufus is going to have sex with her and he can’t stop himself. And even though Rheda wants it, Rufus thinks he is having sex with someone that is not a virgin. She has to help him what? Help him make himself feel better once he learns she is a virgin? This whole set-up just didn’t sit well with me leading up to their big first sex scene. It was hard for me to find this scene romantic.
Also in this story is a villain who you meet towards the end. You see him very briefly in the middle of the book, and he has a young sex slave (a male) and you get the idea that the villain enjoys other men’s company and that he does it in a very creepy fashion. He is very icky. I’m not sure if I bought into all of it.
The HEA at the end felt more like two people who enjoy good sex, rather than two people who love each other. I needed more romance time with these two. But this book does have a lot of action to keep the pace moving,