Highland Scandal (The Scandalous Series #2)
by Julia London
On the run from the wrathful Prince of Wales, Jack Haines, Earl of Lambourne, is taken prisoner by a Highland laird who makes him an unusual offer: if Jack handfasts his niece, then his life will be spared. The old Highland custom -- a marriage lasting only a year and a day, unless both partners agree to make it a lifelong vow -- sounds preferable to Jack to being dragged to London in chains, and when he meets lovely Lizzie Beal, his dilemma starts to seem positively enjoyable. Until the hellion vents her fury...on him! Detesting the scandalous match that will end all her chances of making a respectable marriage, Lizzie can't abide living intimately with a fugitive nobleman bent on seducing her and then running off. But in teaching her the pleasures of a wife's duties, Jack sparks within them both a passion that will make him wish he could stay with Lizzie for much longer than a year and a day.
Highland Scandal is the second book in the Scandalous Series, set entirely around the scandal of Queen Katherine and Prince George of Wales. The story picks up with Jack still on the run from the Prince’s men as they hunt for him through the Scottish highlands. Jack is on the run because many believe he has had an affair with the Princess and several other men that are suspected have already been hanged. The history and rumor in this story will keep any history buff happy and also give the story a richness and depth that make the love story more profound.
Jack is taken hostage by a highland laird and forced to join the laird’s spirited and stubborn niece in a handfasting that neither of them want. When given the choice of death or spending a year and a day with this woman, what else is a guy to do? But this woman is definitely working extra hard to try his patience. Lizzie is an extremely independent woman, raised by a father that always indulged her and her sister in all their whims. She is trapped in this handfasting, for now, but she is determined to get free of Jack and this ridiculous sham of a marriage.
Working together to keep her scheming uncle happy, while fighting to keep distance between them is making both Jack and Lizzie a little crazy. When Jack is able to convince Carson to release them so they can return to Lizzie’s crippled sister and their estate, Lizzie and Charlotte infuriate me with the way they treat Jack. They treat him worse than a prisoner, locking him away in cold rooms and trying to convince her staff that he is dangerous and they shouldn't trust him. Many times I was so angry at them that I almost stopped reading the book. Jack and his gentlemanly behavior and the obvious attraction he shows is the only thing that kept me reading.
Luckily Jack is finally able to thaw the servants, Charlotte and eventually Lizzie herself. He is so wonderful, working hard to improve the estate and show Lizzie that he is more than just a rake. He brings out a passion that Lizzie has never experienced and certainly never expected to feel for Jack. Slowly they begin to grow together and finally realize that their feelings are true and that love is something worth working and sacrificing for. But when her former suitor returns to the picture the problems just begin to compound. When Jack and Gordon discover just what Carson has been up to with his blackmailing and scheming, Jack is determined to do whatever necessary to make sure that Lizzie has everything she wants, even If it costs him his life.
Jack was one of those characters who shows only the shallowest of his emotions to those around him, using his charm and wiles to get his way. But as he embraces his predicament and works to make their lives as easy and stress free as possible, we see the depth and greatness that shines through the shallow veneer. Lizzie on the other hand is a character that you just really wish would grow up already. She is a spoiled, willful and self centered young woman, worrying only about herself and her sister, not giving much thought to the fact that Jack is just as trapped in the situation as Lizzie herself. Thankfully as Jack begins to pull her from her shell she becomes less and less hateful, growing into a woman that is a match for Jack.
There were lots of laughs in this story to go along with all the intrigue and the battles of wits between Lizzie and Jack. The plot is full of twists and turns, with Lizzie and Jack getting into and out of many scrapes. The love between them was hard won and only when they are about to love each other and everything they didn't even know they wanted, do they both realize that they are meant to be together. When Jack risks his life to try to give her everything she thinks she wants, Lizzie sees that she’s had what she needed all along—Jack.
This was a good story once you get past the idiocy of Lizzie in the beginning. It moves quickly and there are some very passionate moments. There are some really lovable characters and the ending was hilarious and heartwarming. It was great to see Nathan and Evelyn finally having their HEA and to even get to see more about Fiona, Jack’s sister. I am looking forward to the series finale and to finding out more about Christie. In the meantime just knowing that Lizzie and Jack finally found their own HEA will keep me happy. A great read and worth all the annoyance of dealing with a not very likable character until she grows up.
Rating: 3 stars