Slightly Scandalous - Mary Balogh There wasn't anything particularly "scandalous" about Mary Balogh's Slightly Scandalous, which leads me to a burning question: Who the hell is naming books these days? I could throw a mish-mash of words in a hat, draw out 2, and I swear to all the Your Graces and My Lords in Regency England, I could come up with a more apt title. OK, I suppose that the plot of this book - my first Mary Balogh read, new things are cool - was slightly scandalous, but aren't all these Regency Romance plots the same way? Oh gosh! Margaret's in the garden maze with that wicked Marquess of Blackraven! Surely, she is ruined. They must marry immediately! This is entirely too slightly scandalous!

But the book. Right. The book. Let's get started, shall we?

Lady Freyja Bedwyn takes off to visit a friend in Bath, which apparently isn't fashionable anymore, to avoid the birth and christening of her first love Kit's son with his new wife. Freyja's a noble sort with exacting standards, being the daughter (and now sister) of a duke and all. So, when Joshua Moore, Marquess of Hallmere, stumbles into her room at an inn en route to Bath whilst attempting to escape an enraged father with intentions of forcing Joshua's marriage to his daughter, Freyja is filled with righteous indignation. She screams bloody murder until he is forced to jump out the window and continues her journey to Bath. Of course, they run into each other again in Bath and butt heads and snipe and flirt shamelessly. It's all very sedate until Joshua's aunt, the marchioness, arrives in Bath with plans to wed him to her daughter Constance. Of course, the marchioness is a scheming scheme-ster with manipulative tendencies and no end to her psychological warfare. Naturally, the only thing Joshua can do to escape getting "leg-shackled" is to fake an engagement to Lady Freyja Bedwyn. But will their fake engagement become a love match in reality?


You betcha, gov'nuh!

I liked Joshua. His sunny demeanor was a refreshing change from the brooding alpha virility monsters that HR authors are so fond of these days. Joshua's upbringing wasn't incredibly happy, but he made the best of it and cultivated love and respect from the people in his town even before he became heir to the marquessate. At first, Joshua is interested in Freyja out of boredom, but he eventually grows to love her without utilizing any of the I'LL NEVER LOVE A WOMAN BECAUSE THEY'RE ALL WHORES / REMIND ME OF MY MOTHER / NEVER MEASURE UP TO MY DEAD PERFECT WIFE tropes that annoy me so.

Freyja is a lot of fun. She demands the best and lets everyone know it. I like that she's an unapologetic bitch a lot of the time and never has to change. She's a good match for Joshua. She isn't very pretty doesn't whine about it. Freyja is comfortable in her own skin and doesn't take any crap.

I know this is part of a series, but Slightly Scandalous has some major "Look, See How Happy and Perfect All My Past Characters Are? See It? SEE IT?" syndrome. If I had to read one more thing about the Bedwyn nose or their haughty glances or dignified poses, I would have thrown the book against the wall (a very costly outcome for my Nook). It's all Babies Ever After and Doting Husbands for a large portion of the book, and I almost went into insulin shock. Sorry. I'm an upbeat person. I swear I like happy things, just not jammed into the middle of narratives.

The big crisis at the end of the story is too easily wrapped up and tied away with a little bow. It didn't even need to be drawn out for as long as it was. A couple of characters just say a few things, and *POOF!* went the conflict! I get that the story was more of a character study than a rousing adventure, but damn it, there's always room for a little adventure!

Also, I was put off by Freyja's propensity for punching people, namely Joshua, in the nose. Not to get all After School Special in my review, but violence isn't cool. I'll excuse Freyja for the first punch because Joshua kissed her without permission. All ladies would be wise to punch a virtual stranger who bursts into their rooms and makes unwanted advances. However, I can't give her a pass for the second punch, the third attempted bunch, or the subsequent threatened punches. USE YOUR WORDS, FREYJA! Having 4 brothers is not an all-access pass to violence. Imagine if Joshua and Freyja were in reversed roles. I'm sure no one would find it amusing if he socked her in the face every time she got his temper up. Strange double standards in fiction are strange.

In addition, Joshua's cousin Prudence, who clearly has a mental disability and is frequently described as child-like, is married off to a man at the end of the story. This is implied to be a good thing, but it rubbed me the wrong way. If Prue is truly "forever a child," does she really have the means to consent to an adult relationship? I felt like this was glossed over very carelessly.

Overall, the book wasn't awful. I'm not chomping at the bit to read another Balogh book or anything, but I may give her a chance in the future. With a little more something to the plot, this could have been a 4-star. Alas, it wasn't meant to be. Now that's what I call slightly scandalous.