Tuesday, May 4, 2021

Jennifer Ashley - A Rogue Meets a Scandalous Lady

David Fleming, Hart Mackenzie’s right-hand man, seeks refuge with an old mentor only to find the mentor’s beautiful niece, Sophie, has sought sanctuary as well. In the quiet spaces of the countryside, David finds some peace from his reprobate existence but now faces a new problem–he’s falling for Sophie, Lady Devonport, a lady with a scandalous secret.

Comment: I was quite happy to notice some day that another book in the Mackenzie and MacBride series was coming out. I admit I'm not the best follower of authors and I'm not always aware f when a new book is coming out so it was nice to see this book was going to be released.

I was even happier that it would be a story set in the same time line as the other books I liked. I know there were some stories about family ancestors, set in a different century, but those didn't excite me to read them, so I'm glad this one was par with the current family members.

This is the story of David Fleming, Hart's best friend and fellow partner in all things adventure and scheming. David has had quite a blow to his own self when Eleanor chose Hart instead of him but he can't hate neither because he knows they are in love and good for one another and also, he likes he gets to keep their friendship. Still, sometimes he thinks about it and when this story begins, he is in the middle of a complicated matter, of which he is embarrassed so he avoids the couple by traveling to his mentor's house in the country. That is where he meets his niece Sophie, a young woman who is herself in the middle of scandal. However, helping others by devising mad schemes is his call in life and he does try his best to turn things around for Sophie, but will she appreciate that? What about this weird connection that so quickly formed between them?

I'll be honest, I didn't remember David at all from the other books but, then again, it has been some time I've read them. It was very nice, though to see some of the beloved characters of past books make appearances, although some were only mentioned. Still, this sense of family and closeness which I have come to enjoy in the series was still here and I liked the cozy sensation it provided.

This wasn't a big book, it barely reached the 200 pages in my ebook edition and I must say what felt a little underdone in such a small amount of text was the "falling in love" part. I can trust they are a good couple and that the problems they faced individually got them closer for shared pain over something they could not fully control and I can believe physical attraction and the enjoyment of similar tastes got them in the same path but it still felt that they didn't spend enough time together or getting to know each other even more before their feelings seemed to have become fixed.

David is, indeed, a schemer, but his actions are often a way to help others, who are being wronged, although he doesn't hide the fact he helps Hart getting what he wants, both politically and personally. I liked him for the most part but, since this was a story on the smaller scale, I feel his character and personality weren't developed as much as it could, so he felt a little rushed to his fate, namely finding happiness with Sophie.

She, on the other hand, felt more fleshed out to me, although more development would have certainly have helped to maker her look more confident in her strength to be a good companion to David. I think her problem was a complicated one, and at a time women really had no advocates in justice. The plot also revolves mostly around the attempt to solve her problem with her husband, who wants a divorce on the accusation she has been unfaithful. Of course we know better and it was amusing at times to see she had such good defenders on David and the Mackenzies.

It should be no surprise that the conflicts are solved rather quickly, comparing with the time it takes for David and Sophie's relationship to develop too. I understand the author probably felt she didn't have to waste time on unnecessary things and what does happen, happen with precision but as a big picture, I do feel things could have been done better. For instance, even the choice of cover colors and design... I can't understand how that dress and style could ever be a match for Sophie or her personality. I ca imagine a different look as well as the content which isn't written but it would have been better for certain, were those things to be there instead of the ones which aren't so good.

As a whole, this is worth it to me more for the family bonds and the significance of meeting friends again, after a while. In terms of plot and development I think the author could have done a more emotional work, considering the backgrounds of both main characters and their inner struggles to appear stronger than what they really feel for a large part of the novel.
Still, a good enough experience reading this one.
Grade: 7/10

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