A Scandal to Remember by Elizabeth Essex

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The rules of courtship are swept out to sea when a shipwreck offers a Reckless Bride a true taste of paradise…

CAN A WHIRLWIND ROMANCE

In Elizabeth Essex’s A Scandal to Remember, for too long, Miss Jane Burke’s father has taken advantage of her painstaking research. Heading to the South Seas to make her own name as a scientist despite the crew’s insistence that a woman aboard is bad luck, she isn’t prepared to be championed by a handsome ship’s officer who rouses longings inside her as wild as any storm…

LEAD TO A PROPER PROPOSAL?

For Lieutenant Charles Dance, a post on His Majesty’s survey ship Tenacious is just one more dutiful rung on the ladder of his career. Even a headstrong bluestocking on board is less troubling than the ship’s drunken captain—and the ferocious gales that drive the ship off course. Stranded on a remote island, passion blazes between them as hot as the sun, but it’s Jane’s love that Charles wants forever…

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Publisher and Release Date: St. Martin’s Paperbacks, August 2014

RHR Classifications:
Time and Setting: 1815, England and on board ship
Genre: Historical Romance
Heat Level: 2
Reviewer Rating: 4.5 stars

Review by Jill

At twenty-six years of age, J.E. Burke, conchologist is ready to make her mark on the scientific world, and for once get the credit for her work. Keen to continue and advance her study of mollusc shells, she signs on for an expedition with the Royal Society to the South Seas aboard His Majesty’s Ship, Tenacious.

Lieutenant Charles Dance, veteran of sea battles and the Royal Navy, has his hands full with his new posting aboard HMS Tenacious. With a drunken captain, a slovenly, ill-disciplined crew, a filthy, poorly-maintained ship, he now has a female to contend with, trying all at once to protect her from the eyes of his leering crew and from their potentially dangerous and superstitious views of a female on board ship.

What a completely wonderful story! I haven’t read any of the previous books in this series. Although I did read Ms Essex’s debut years ago, this is the first book of hers I’ve read since then. With so many excellent authors in the historical romance genre, it’s very difficult to find time to read them all. However, from reading A Scandal to Remember, Elizabeth Essex is going on my list of must-read HR authors.

Set in 1815, and mainly on board ship, A Scandal to Remember is a must for readers who enjoy well-written, well-researched historical naval romances. I’ve read a number of stories set on a ship or in the Royal Navy, but none that read as authentically as this. I’m guessing that Ms Essex may be a fan of C. S. Forester (Horatio Hornblower) – and who isn’t? – and Patrick O’Brian (Master & Commander).

There were however, a couple of minor quibbles that I can overlook, and one major one, that I can’t. Firstly, the minor stuff. There was a bit of repetition. For example, it was mentioned a number of times that the heroine was small, little, tiny, petite. Got it the first time. It’s also somewhat implausible that a young, single woman in 1815 would have got herself to the ship and on board in the first place, let alone unaccompanied. The ship was not provisioned for the trip halfway across the world – not in its captain, crew, foodstuffs or its seaworthiness – and I wasn’t convinced that the diligent Dance would have allowed it to sail. After a very detailed story, the ending was wrapped up just a bit too quickly. Minor things.

And the one hiccup, in an otherwise excellent read?

Dance was running short of creative curses. Truer words…

The overuse of a certain swear word here – its use 25+ times in this book – is way more than any historical romance I’ve ever read, especially from one of the big publishers. But I’m not complaining about its use – rather about its overuse. A well-placed exclamation or expletive at the right time, every now and then can be very effective, and really highlight a scene or phrase, a character’s emotional state, stress or fear. But its overuse here is both anachronistic and unnecessary and took me completely taken out of the story. Its use in contemporary romance may be de rigueur nowadays. But in historical romance, it is particularly egregious. That I spent any time wondering why the author overused this word means that its context here distracted and detracted from what is a memorable and quite brilliant story.

But that aside, I’m still giving A Scandal to Remember a hearty recommendation.

2 thoughts on “A Scandal to Remember by Elizabeth Essex

  1. I own a few of Elizabeth Essex’s books but I haven’t read any of them as yet. As you say Jill, there are so many good authors within this genre that it’s difficult to find the time to read them all.

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