Joan Smith: Bath Scandal

Beatrice Searle, a beautiful and charming widow, agreed to smarten up tomboy Gillie Southam, because she believed Gillie’s half-brother, Lord Southam, would accompany her to Bath. But it was Southam’s straight-laced fiancée who actually inspired the move, and Lord Southam only came when rumors had Gillie involved with a disreputable fellow. Unfortunately, his lordship mistook Bea for a merry widow…

This is a variation of the second chance romance theme, with Smith familiar older H/h and delightfully bumbling and a bit eccentric younger foils.  There is a fiancé monster to spark conflict, and a horse mad young debutante to provide comic relief.

Its a bit different, as the hero is actually trying to give the heroine a slip on the shoulder rather than promising undying love.  He is also the one to go through a makeover, which adds some whimsical humor to an otherwise traditional Regency.

This was not my favorite Smith, for although there is some different elements, it wasn’t as funny as I hoped.  The heroine, however, is a stronger more mature woman who is clever and delivers some tremendously witty dialogue.  Whether or not she is a merry widow is something that also provides some funny moments…I just wish it had been played to the full, ridiculous edge.

Southam is a bit beta, so probably not every readers ideal heartthrob, but I found some of his foibles charming and endearing.

On the whole, horse-mad Gillie and suitor steal the show.

Action is helped along by a journey filled with unfortunate events, including a carriage accident and some bookies.

I will probably read again at some point.  It wasn’t my favorite Smith, or her funniest, but its rompish enough that a worn paperback, library copy or affordable ebook investment is a safe enough bet for most fans of the traditional 90s era Regency.

 4 out of 6 Traditional Reg Rom with funny moments and older H/h

Content Rating/Heat Index
Suggestive of an affair
Talks of duel
Clean traditional Regency appropriate for older teens, although younger audience may not relate to older H/h

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