I found this book extremely disappointing. It certainly doesn't measure up to the standards set by Georgette Heyer for interesting and well-developed plot and character and for research into historical detail. Nor does it reach the standards set by Mary Balogh, a current writer of Regency romance. I also found errors and poor or incorrect use of words that the editor should have caught. I don't believe someone would pull up a hammock (perhaps the author meant hassock) to sit on in a Regency drawing room. Lady Eleanor had the potential to be an extremely interesting character but I don't feel enough effort went into making her or the other characters truly come alive in something other than their reproductive anatomy. The premise of the book is interesting and I see there is to be a sequel. One can only hope the writing will improve and that the author will have done some research into life in the Regency period.
I picked this one up at Book 'Em Carolina and got it signed by the author, who was very friendly. While romance isn't my favorite genre, I like a good historical romance romp now and then, and Regency novels usually deliver.
The Scandal of Lady Eleanor has a somewhat unusual premise in two ways--one is that it is first in a series of novels about a group of proto-Richard Burton-type noble spies and adventurers (collectively known as the Realm) who come home to settle down and marry. But these men are restless with their old society and instinctively seek out women from their own class with their own rough edges. This makes both the men more sympathetic and the women more interesting than you might see in this kind of romance. Also, the glimpses of the Realm's secret exploits overseas--a plotline that ties all the books together--are a lot of fun. I wish there had been more and hope subsequent books will delve into that more deeply.
The other way is that Eleanor herself is a young woman with a genuinely dark secret from a truly ugly past. When she chooses a blackmailing suitor far below her station, her reasons are entirely understandable, unlike many of these stories where you're frustrated by how people could clear up all the drama if only they'd just talk to each other, and there is no guarantee anyone would be sympathetic toward her. If her secret (for all that it's not her fault) were to come out, she and her family would be ruined. This means that her brother and would-be husband, both members of the swashbuckling Realm, must be almost as cunning and circumspect as women of their time would have to be in order to free her.
And that's not even all of Eleanor. She is forthright and intellectually curious, and her dire predicament exists as much to give her a chance to show her courage and loyalty as to give the men of the Realm a chance to show their mettle in rescuing her. There is even a moment late in the book where she gets to step right out of her role as victim and become a true heroine.
The book isn't perfect. The first hundred pages or so drag a bit, mostly because the reveal of Eleanor's secret is dragged out by limiting her POV scenes early on. This leaves us with her suitor, James, obsessing over her and pushing her boundaries a bit more than seems comfortable. Sure, she appears to like it, but it makes him seem pushy and a bit creepy, initially.
Fortunately, this improves later on when he discovers her secret, and his response is both complex and satisfying. This is a good thing because it makes the sex scenes pretty hot (the ones that are supposed to be, anyway) and entirely mutual.
Overall, this is a fun beach read. I'm looking forward to reading the rest of the series.
Regina Jeffers is well known for her Austen sequels such as Vampire Darcy's Desire, Honor and Hope and The Phantom of Pemberley. As you may or may not know, I'm a huge fan of all things Austen. I've read a few of the Austen sequels by Jeffers and was thrilled to read her newest novel, The Scandal of Lady Eleanor. Lady Eleanor has had a very difficult childhood. Much of it was spent taking care of her ailing father. When he finally passes away her brother, Brantley Fowler finally comes back to take his place. Eleanor loves her brother but she longs to escape from her prison of the past years. That is until she meets James Kerrington. James has a few demons in his past he wishes to escape also but after one chance meeting with Lady Eleanor his entire world changes. James Kerrington makes it his mission in life to woo Lady Eleanor in any and every way. However many obstacles stand in their way. Someone is trying to kill Lady Eleanor and if that's not enough, someone is also trying to blackmail her as well. This book has a few different plot lines going on at the same time but it never got confusing. The main plot line focused on Lady Eleanor and James Kerrington. Lady Eleanor is a strong female character. She is not only beautiful and smart but she's also a survivor. Lady Eleanor does what ever it takes to protect the ones she loves. I admired her character a lot. Jeffers does a great job showing what little options women in the Regency Period had and the tough choices they had to make. James Kerrington was a great character too. James is a widower with a young son. His heart was broken when the love of his life passed away. He felt he had nothing left to lose so he joined the Realm. My heart went out to him as he tried to pick up the pieces of his life. The chemistry between Eleanor and James was wow. All I can say about that is hold on to your bonnets, ladies. This is the first novel in The Realm Series. Jeffers introduced the characters in the 'Realm' in this book. She didn't go into a lot of detail, just enough to keep me wanting more. There was a sneak peak in the back for the next book in this series and I can't wait to read it. The 'Realm' is a group of men working covert operations. They are a bit of a mystery at this point. They are brought together to help Lady Eleanor as well as solve the mystery of the mysterious emerald. They've made a few enemies along the way. They must band together to protect the ones they cherish. I really enjoyed this story. It has mystery and adventure. It has love and passion. There are parts that made me laugh and there are parts that made me cringe. The Scandal of Lady Eleanor has themes such as love, acceptance, forgiveness, and humility. This book is a definite win for me. I also want to mention that the storyline deals with the sensitive subject of child abuse. It has a few descriptive scenes that are disturbing. It is necessary for the storyline, so if you can get past that I think you'll enjoy this book.